Presentation of Canning Paper on AgTech in Latin America

On Wednesday 16th May, Canning House held an event to present the latest Canning Paper, on AgTech in Latin America. Dave Ross, CEO of Agri-EPI Centre, one of the UK’s four agri-tech centres, introduced the panel in his capacity as chair of the event: Andrew Thompson, representing LatinNews and author of the report, and Horacio Sánchez-Caballero, General Coordinator at GPS, a network of agribusiness experts from Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. Cristina Cortes, Canning House CEO, welcomed attendees and the panel.

The speakers’ presentations covered the contents of the paper and beyond, with emphasis on the opportunities that the agricultural sector holds for the Latin American region, and how uses of new technology can contribute to increased efficiency.

AgTech in Latin America

There has been a rapid growth of AgTech companies in Latin America, but there is a need for a supportive environment to help these start-ups grow. As in FinTech, there is an interesting phenomenon in that well-established forces in the industry (such as Monsanto) are establishing new partnerships with smaller AgTech companies that have developed new ways of doing things. While AgTech holds the potential of contributing to the production of more value-added exports, the challenges posed most notably by climate change are not to be disregarded.

This article has been published previously by Canning House

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A dairy farm fit for the future

The South West Dairy Development Centre, Agri-EPI’s new dairy farm of the future, is located in an important milk producing region, home to nearly 25% of dairy cows in Great Britain. The farm provides a platform to test and demonstrate new and emerging technologies. Agri-EPI Centre commissioned one of their core industrial partners – independent dairy specialist Kingshay – to design, build and operate a state-of-the-art dairy for research and development, with funding from Innovate UK and industry partners. The centre combines state-of-the-art, high welfare cow housing and milking facilities with precision grazing.

 

Key objectives

The new dairy has four key objectives:

  1. To demonstrate profitable and resource efficient milk production;
  2. Integrate robotic milking with precision grazing;
  3. Use the latest technology available to support animal welfare and sustainable milk production;
  4. To provide state-of-the-art facilities to industry supporters for near market research, development and demonstration.

Dairy Development Centres

The South West Dairy Development Centre is one of three Dairy Development Centres of excellence that Agri-EPI Centre is establishing, for research, development and demonstration with both national and international reach and influence. The Centres provide a showcase for new ideas and technologies to generate a vibrant and sustainable route to efficient milk production. The new facilities will provide a platform for industry to trial latest ideas and connect with farmers across the UK. The three sites are based at:

  1. Kingshay in the South West: Integrating robotic milking and precision grazing;
  2. Harper Adams in Shropshire: Combining robotic milking with adaptable housing;
  3. SRUC in Dumfries: Optimising cow comfort with robotic milking;
  4. Further dairy facilities are established on commercial farms as part of the Agri-EPI Centre network of satellite farms.

Demonstration and test bed facilities: 5G RuralFirst

A key element of the dairy centre will be to provide state-of-the-art demonstration facilities with visitor access and high-speed connectivity to exploit the benefits of remote access. The dairy is one of the three test beds for the recently announced 5G RuralFirst project which will exploit the massive opportunities for improved connectivity offered to rural business by the next generation of mobile signal.

Further enquiries

Read more about the technologies of the new centre here. For more information about the South West Dairy Development Centre in Somerset, please get in touch with us:

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International Rural Conference delegation visits Parkend Farm

As part of the OECD Rural Development Conference earlier this year, Agri-EPI Centre’s Satellite Farmer Brian Wetherup of Parkend Farm hosted a widespread international delegation to showcase Scottish rural innovation. The attendees represented various international organisations and governments: South Korea, Romania, Belgium, Hungary, Netherlands, France and Germany to name a few. The rural field trip was initiated by Scottish Enterprise and included a tour around the facilities and provided further insights into robotic milking.

OECD Rural Development Conference

The 11th OECD Rural Development Conference brought together leading policy makers, private sector and renowned experts to exchange experiences and good practices on issues related to innovation in rural areas, including the development of policies to benefit from the 10 key drivers of rural change, and making the most of opportunities for job creation, economic growth, and service delivery. Read the full report about the Conference on the Scottish Rural Network website.

Partners

Organised by the OECD, the Conference is hosted by the Scottish Government, European Commission and the UK Government in close co-operation with Highlands and Islands Enterprise & Scottish Enterprise and the European Network for Rural Development.

© Photography: Sandy Young Photography

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Thought leadership: Innovation in Scottish Agriculture

In 2017, the IET’s Engineering Policy Group Scotland identified the potential application of the ‘Internet of Things’ in Farming as a strong topic for one of its Holyrood Briefings at the Scottish Parliament. The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) invited Agri-EPI Centre, the University of Strathclyde and Harbro to speak and explain how an ‘Internet of Agricultural Things’ could give the Scottish agri-food sector sector a new lease – representing academia, industry and government. The meeting, hosted by Edward Mountain MSP, took place on 27th February 2018.

Innovation in Scottish Agriculture – the Internet of Agricultural Things

At the event, speakers and attendees discussed how new technologies and opportunities such as precision livestock farming, autonomous agricultural machinery and remote crop mapping could help boost the efficiency and overall efficiency of the agri-food sector in Scotland significantly, while also addressing the more global problem of a rising world population and resulting food shortages.

However, several challenges will need to be overcome before these new approaches can be adopted at scale, such as an outdated communications infrastructure and convincing farmers to move away from more traditional methods.

With a global population expected to rise by 2-3 billion people by 2050, farming in Scotland and elsewhere, faces considerable challenges. A new awareness of the environmental concerns around the indiscriminate use of pesticides coupled with the need to promote animal welfare presents engineering with new opportunities. A mix of parliamentarians, industry professionals and academics attended the event.

Watch the mash-up video that came out after the event:

Source: IET

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3D cameras to save pigs’ tails

A new high-tech solution to the problem of tail biting in pigs has been devised by Scottish scientists and could become an alternative to the controversial last-resort practice of tail docking. The research is a collaboration between Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), Scottish farm technology company Innovent Technology Ltd, pig supply chain partners including north-east animal feed firm Harbro, and the Agricultural Engineering Precision Innovation Centre (Agri-EPI).

3D cameras

The initiative is designed to drive higher welfare standards on farms and involves a system of 3D cameras which are installed above feeders to detect whether a pig’s tail is up and curly, or held down against the body, which researchers have shown is a sign that tail biting is about to begin.

The work was carried out using 23 groups of weaner-grower pigs which were regularly scored for any signs of tail injury, and tail biting was stopped as soon as an outbreak was detected.

It has been published in the scientific journal PLOS ONE. Lead author of the study, Dr Rick D’Eath from SRUC, said:

“Tail biting results in pain and sickness for bitten pigs and severe economic losses for farmers as infection through tail wounds results in abattoir condemnation of meat. This condemnation alone can cost a producer up to 1% of the carcase value and a loss for the processor of 1% of saleable carcase from the pig. There are also unquantified on-farm costs as a result of the increased labour and veterinary treatments resulting from an outbreak. Tail docking of piglets is partly effective at reducing tail biting in later life, but is seen as an undesirable mutilation and its routine use is banned in the EU.”

He said that automatically measuring tail posture could act as an early warning of tail biting. Dr D’Eath added: “The challenge for us now is to develop this promising technology into a robust on-farm early warning system that works on any pig farm.”

Innovate UK funded

The work is to be developed in a follow-on Innovate UK-funded project called ‘TailTech‘, which will collect data from more diverse pig farms and develop and test a prototype early warning system. Other pig supply partners will also be involved, including pig breeders JSR Genetics, engineers David Ritchie Ltd, pig vets Garth Pig Practice and farmers’ co-operative Scottish Pig Producers.

Grant Walling, director of science and technology at JSR Genetics, said:

We recognise that tail biting impacts on animal welfare, farm productivity and pork quality. Any tool that can help reduce or eradicate the problem is a benefit to the whole supply chain. This technology has the potential to predict future victims so offers opportunities to update and include information within our selection strategies to reduce the incidence of tail-biting in future generations.

 

Source: This article has been published on The Press and Journal at 14th April 2018 (author Nancy Nicolson)

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Partnership looks to nurture fresh crop growth with Agri-EPI tech

Agri-EPI Centre partner Cranfield University and Johnson Matthey have announced the first cohort of companies to join the Johnson Matthey Agritech Partnership Programme (JMAPP). The announcement follows a five-week global search for companies and individuals who want to develop their innovative agritech solutions. The companies will be given an opportunity to develop their product or idea within an intense programme of collaboration and scientific and management support.

Johnson Matthey Partnership programme

In an innovative new partnership programme, created by Cranfield and Johnson Matthey, more than 35 businesses entered a competitive pitch process to receive a package of advice, support and funding within a new three-month programme. The overall support for the companies will be worth in excess of £50,000 each. From a strong field, three emerging companies were chosen by experts from Cranfield University and Johnson Matthey.

The first companies in the pilot programme are:

  • Azotic Technologies, whose R&D Laboratories are based in Nottingham, is developing a unique natural nitrogen-fixing technology based on a symbiotic endophyte that could allow any crop variety to fix nitrogen directly from the air.
  • Bionema, a company based out of Swansea University’s Institute of Life Science, is working on chemical-free pest management solutions and has devised a non-toxic bio-based microencapsulation technology.
  • Water&Soil, based in Budapest, Hungary, has developed an organic soil enhancement product, which aims to improve water efficiency, whether saving on irrigation costs or enabling cropping in areas of marginal cultivation where water is scarce.

This cohort will enjoy the use of the world-class research facilities located at Cranfield, including those of the UK Government’s Agritech Centres, Agri-EPI and CHAP. The Agritech Centres’ facilities at Cranfield have recently received £10million of investment. A broad package of support – ranging from seminars, masterclasses and networking opportunities through to one-on-one mentoring – will also be on offer.

Along with access to Cranfield and its acclaimed team, Johnson Matthey’s scientists and business experts will now work with the companies to develop their ideas within a Proof of Concept framework. Johnson Matthey has a wealth of commercial and scientific expertise on offer, from research and prototyping support to scaling lab work into full commercial propositions, managing supply chains or help with navigating complex regulatory environments.

“We’re really looking forward to the next few months at Cranfield,” said Kristin Rickert, Innovation Director at Johnson Matthey.

“Johnson Matthey is committed to collaboration as part of our open innovation approach. Our ultimate goal is to help develop fresh ideas into sustainable new products and technologies. This new programme supports that perfectly and these are great ideas to work on together.”

Professor Leon A. Terry, Director of Environment and Agrifood at Cranfield University, added:

“This is an exciting time for innovation in agritech, as demonstrated by the volume, global breadth and strength of the applicants to the programme. One of the greatest challenges for the sector is creating an environment where ideas and innovations can become reality.

By combining the scientific and business expertise of Cranfield and Johnson Matthey, we are giving our first cohort the best possible chance to succeed by bringing forward their innovations to market.”

For more information about the programme visit www.cranfield.ac.uk/jmapp

Source: pressroom Cranfield University

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