PepsiCo chief opens Plant Phenotyping and Soil Health Facility

Agri-EPI Centre are pleased to be leading participant in supporting Indra Nooyi, Chairman and Chief Executive of PepsiCo, one of the world’s largest food and beverage companies in officially opening the Plant Phenotyping and Soil Health Facility at Cranfield University. The facility is a key component of UK’s Agri-Tech Strategy and has been set up to enable industry, famers, agronomists and agrichemical companies to understand soil management issues and to observe changes in crop health over space and time.

Agri-EPI Centre and CHAP are full partners of the Plant Phenotyping and Soil Health Facility and work together to bring the solutions to the industry. This facility provides unique primary-harvest to post-harvest technology at Cranfield University and is funded by Innovate UK through both Agri-EPI Centre and CHAP. To discuss a research collaboration or a commercial project using the Plant Phenotyping and Soil Health Facility, please contact Agri-EPI Centre via enquiries@agri-epicentre.com.

On the day the AgriTech facility was officially opened, Indra Nooyi – who is considered one of today’s world-leading businesswoman – also received an honorary degree from Cranfield University.

Previously, Mrs Nooyi served as PepsiCo’s President and Chief Financial Officer. Since joining the company in 1994, she has directed the company’s global strategy and led its transformation, including the acquisition of Tropicana and the merger with Quaker Oats that brought the Quaker and Gatorade businesses to PepsiCo; the merger with PepsiCo’s anchor bottlers; and the acquisition of Wimm-Bill-Dann, the largest international acquisition in PepsiCo’s history. PepsiCo’s main businesses include Quaker, Tropicana, Gatorade, Walkers and Pepsi-Cola, with more than $63 billion in annual net revenue.

To discuss a research collaboration or a commercial project using the Plant Phenotyping and Soil Health Facility, contact us.

TAFE first business to take up residence in workshop space Newport

Harper Adams University (HAU) has entered a new international collaboration with India-based Tractors and Farm Equipment (TAFE) to develop advanced technological, agronomic and educational solutions for the delivery of sustainable food production around the world.

TAFE, the world’s third largest tractor manufacturing company in terms of volume, has become the first business to take up residence in the Agri-EPI Centre Midlands Agri-Tech Innovation Hub, on the university campus, to commence a major, collaborative research and development project.

Agri-EPI Centre is one of the four national Centres for Agricultural Innovation created as part of the £17.7m UK government investment from the UK’s Strategy for Agricultural Technologies to help provide engineering and precision agriculture solutions for the agri-food industry.

The collaboration between TAFE, Harper Adams University and Agri-EPI Centre will include joint research projects and programmes, joint publications and staff exchanges.

Research will be focused on agriculture, engineering and technology development programmes on autonomous farming and energy efficient implements, Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) and sensor technologies along with the Hands Free Hectare (HFH) project that will be implemented at JFarm India; TAFE’s adaptive agriculture research centre.

Partnership logo TAFE at Midlands Agri-Tech Innovation Hub

TAFE President & COO, Mr T R Kesavan said:

“TAFE’s collaboration with Agri-EPI Centre and Harper Adams is a reaffirmation of TAFE’s commitment to its vision of ‘Cultivating the World’ as it aims to combine integrated farming techniques with precision agriculture and engineering to develop sustainable farming models that work for both marginal and large farms. This collaboration will provide opportunities for developing a range of advanced training skills, learning and the promotion of international technology transfer and exchange.”

On the team’s arrival, Harper Adams Agricultural Engineering Lecturer Kit Franklin said: “We at Harper Adams have been building contacts with TAFE for the last 18 months. “It’s great to now have this young and enthusiastic team of engineers from TAFE’s Centre of Excellence here in the UK, where we’re about to start on our first collaborative engineering project. “Along with the completion of the project, I hope the team will get a flavour of British agriculture, helping them to return with fresh new ideas.”

Welcoming them to the Agri-EPI Centre, Lee Williams, Midlands Agri-Tech Innovation Hub Manager, said:

“We’re extremely excited about the first major R&D project coming into the centre but even more so as it’s a large international tractor manufacturer that’s working in collaboration with Harper Adams.”

Source: Harper Adams University

UK delegation scopes next generation sustainable farming in USA

What does the farm of the future look like? Increasing automation and big data promise to revolutionise every industry, including the agricultural countryside with a tech sector that will be worth more than £136 billion globally by 2025. The UK Government recognized this early on and launched an Agri-Tech strategy in 2013 to lead on innovation breakthroughs in the face of a transforming global agricultural sector. The strategy established four novel Centres for Agricultural Innovation, including the Agri-EPI Centre to accelerate precision methods across all major agricultural sectors.

To share best practices and promote the UK as a leader in precision agriculture innovation, the Science and Innovation Network (SIN) organised a delegation from the Agri-EPI Centre to visit the US. The delegation was comprised of Agri-EPI Centre leadership and included the CEO of Agri-EPI and several Directors from academia (Cranfield University and Harper Adams University) and from companies (AgSpace and Precision Decisions). As the US has a growing demand for precision methods because agriculture is a significant contributor to many state economies, the aim of the scoping mission was to learn and explore partnerships with the full gambit of stakeholders driving next generation sustainable farming.

In the Washington, D.C. area, the delegates learned about cutting-edge government research at USDA ARS in Beltsville, MD. They chatted with researchers working on the latest technology in hydrology and remote sensing, postharvest technology, microbial food safety, and animal genomics. In Washington DC, the group met with representatives from ARPA-E (DOE), Foundation for Food and Agriculture (FFAR), and USAID to discuss leveraging global partnerships to bring transformative technologies to farms around the globe.

At UC Davis, they met with top faculty to discuss emerging technologies in precision agriculture targeting the high value crops of California agriculture. In addition, experts working in agricultural engineering from Washington State University, University of Arizona and Texas A&M joined the discussion as well as faculty from UC Santa Barbara reflecting an added breadth of regional agriculture and demonstrations/collaborations with agricultural extension centres or growers.

SIN also hosted the delegates, experts from Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory (LBL) and UC Merced and the universities mentioned above at the British Consulate in San Francisco to discuss their leading edge research on precision agriculture solutions. The roundtable led to a robust discussion, reflecting the diverse groundbreaking projects of the group – from the LBL AR1K Smart Farm project in Arkansas to the Harper Adams’ Hands Free Hectare project. Immediate connections were made between Agri-EPI Centre member and world-class institutions Harper Adams and Cranfield Universities with the US research institutions present.

In Silicon Valley the delegates met with Fall Line Capital, an agricultural investment firm to discuss the hottest food and agriculture technology trends. At Planet Labs, a US satellite company already working with UK’s AgSpace to deliver agronomy tools to UK farmers, the group brainstormed on how to further leverage satellite data for academic and business endeavours. Directors from Cranfield University and AgSpace highlighted their use of satellite data to create a UK-wide precision soil map. In true Silicon Valley fashion, the meeting wrapped up with warm chocolate chip cookies!

On the last day, the delegation met with the innovation ecosystem stakeholders working closely with growers in Salinas, an agricultural region in CA, also known as the ‘salad bowl,’ where high value crops like strawberries and leafy greens are grown. Meetings with leadership at Thrive AgTech and Western Growers Center for Innovation and Technology, an accelerator and incubator, respectively, showed how the Agtech pipeline in Silicon Valley has an increasing global footprint innovation by bringing together corporations, universities, growers, and startups. At the centre, they spoke also with Taylor Farms, the world’s largest processor of fresh-cut vegetables, to discuss opportunities and challenges in adoption of precision agriculture technology.

With support from Innovate UK, UK Research and Innovation, and the Department for International Trade, the delegation had a week of great meetings to explore bringing new technologies to the UK and US countryside.

Source:

Science and Innovation Network USA
Carmen Schicklberger
Head of Science and Innovation – San Francisco
Guest blogger for Science and Innovation Network USA
Part of UK in USA

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Minister announces key role for Cranfield in ensuring the quality of UK soils

George Eustice MP, Minister of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, will today announce on a visit to Cranfield University, that DEFRA has confirmed its continued and long-term support for the National Reference Centre for Soils and associated information system, LandIS, hosted by the University.

The soil collections and associated data, contained within LandIS. will underpin and support the UK Government’s goals announced in its ’25-Year Environment Plan’, providing the basis for achieving sustainable soil management by 2030.

Previous research released by Cranfield University has revealed that soil degradation costs the economy in England and Wales an estimated £1.2billion per year. The National Reference Centre for Soils, at Cranfield, will be invaluable to establishing the metrics to assess progress towards the 25-year goals.

LandIS is a substantial environmental information system, operated by Cranfield University. It includes soil and soil-related information for England and Wales, spatial mapping of soils at a variety of scales, as well as corresponding soil property and agro-climatological data. LandIS is the largest soil information system of its kind in Europe, and together with the World Soil Archive (WOSSAC), covers 329 territories worldwide, establishing Cranfield as one of the largest soil reference centres globally.

Data from LandIS was recently used by the Welsh Government to develop its Predictive Agricultural Land Classification (ALC) Map, which enables land users, planners and policy makers to make informed choices about how agricultural land is used in Wales.

Nurturing our nation’s soils

Farming Minister George Eustice said: “Protecting and nurturing our nation’s soils is a cornerstone of our future farming policy. As we work towards delivering our ambitious 25 Year Environment Plan, I look forward to continuing our essential work with Cranfield University.”

Professor Ronald Corstanje, Head of Cranfield University’s Centre for Environmental and Agricultural Informatics, said: “For 40 years, information from LandIS has supported planners, Government and land users to make decisions about how land is used. With an increased focus from Government on the importance of soil health to the UK economy, LandIS will play a vital role in securing the future of the nation’s soil.”

Professor Leon A. Terry, Cranfield University’s Director of Environment and Agrifood, said: “This is fantastic news for Cranfield and the nation’s soil. With our recent Queen’s Anniversary Prize for soil science, and our role in two of the UK’s Government-backed Agritech Centres, Agri-EPI Centre and CHAP, Cranfield is cementing its reputation as the leading soil science university in Europe.”

On his visit to Cranfield, the Minister will also ‘break ground’ on the construction of a new £3.2 million agri-informatics facility which will address a wide range of research challenges in the environmental and agricultural sectors. The facility will be shared with Agri-EPI Centre who will focus on agri-tech research and innovation. It is funded with investment from Innovate UK, Agri-EPI Centre, the Wolfson Foundation and the University itself and will become the home of National Soil Archive.

Source: Cranfield University

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Construction begins on new agri-informatics facility at Cranfield

A ‘ground-breaking’ ceremony has today commemorated the start of construction on a new £3.2 million agri-informatics facility at Cranfield University. The new facility will provide the UK with a centre of excellence in data science related to precision agriculture.

Cranfield University and its partners will use the facility to increase data quantity and quality, while using innovative informatics to support novel business, management and policy approaches in the agricultural sector. It will be shared with Agri-EPI Centre who will focus on agri-tech research and innovation. The new facility will be the home of the National Reference Centre for Soils and associated Land information system, LandIS.

Agri-Informatics funding

Funding for the facility has come from Innovate UK, Agri-EPI Centre, the Wolfson Foundation and the University itself, with construction being completed in 2019.

The ‘ground-breaking’ ceremony was led by George Eustice MP, Minister of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food; representatives of Innovate UK and Agri-EPI Centre; and Professor Sir Peter Gregson, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of Cranfield University.

Farming Minister George Eustice, said: “Protecting and nurturing our nation’s soils is a cornerstone of our future farming policy. This new agri-informatics facility will help us develop the science, research and innovation that we need in this area, combined with the lessons that have been passed down through generations.

“As we work towards delivering our ambitious 25 Year Environment Plan, I look forward to continuing our essential work with Cranfield University.”

Professor Sir Peter Gregson, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of Cranfield University, said:

“Cranfield has a proud tradition of making world-leading contributions to the environment and agricultural sectors, recognised earlier this year by the award of our fifth Queen’s Anniversary Prize. This new facility will play a key role in addressing future research challenges and will be an invaluable resource in achieving the goals set out in the Government’s 25-year Environment Plan.”

Ian Cox, Innovation Lead of the Agri-Tech Centres:

“Innovate UK is proud to be a significant funder through the Agri-EPI Centre of this joint facility which is focusing on innovation in agri-tech. This new facility will once completed help address some of the major challenges facing agriculture globally. Soil Health is becoming internationally recognised a key contributor to improving crop productivity and quality so I am especially pleased that the National Reference Centre for Soils will be housed in this new facility.”

David Ross, CEO of Agri-EPI Centre Ltd. said:

“Agri-EPI Centre is the UK lead Centre for Agricultural Innovation across precision and engineering technologies. We are delighted to both contribute, and be actively involved in this new facility. With our partners, this platform will allow us to meet the national and international productivity and sustainability challenges in the agri-food sector.”

 

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Source: Cranfield University

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