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Discover all the latest news from farming, innovation and technology with us.

Agri-EPI news explores new precision engineering, technology and innovation in UK agriculture across crops, land management and livestock for improved welfare and increased productivity. We have a broad memberships from the farming, manufacturing and retail sectors, as well as collaborating on projects around the world.

Commercial Agri-Tech opportunities in India for Agri-EPI and partners

As part of the UK’s new Technology Partnership with India, Agri-EPI Centre will be part of a trade delegation travelling to the cities of Chandigarh, New Delhi and Mumbai in December, taking part in a major tech festival along the way.

As the world’s the largest single agricultural market, farming contributes 16 per cent of India’s GDP, employing 49% of the Indian workforce on 160 million hectares of arable land to provide food for 1.3 billion people. With more than half of the Indian population expected to live in urban areas by 2050 and agricultural workers dropping to just over a quarter of the total workforce, mechanisation and technology will play an increasingly important role in improving the productivity, efficiency and sustainability of Indian agriculture.

Led by the UK Government’s Department for International Trade, the UK trade delegation will meet with senior policy makers in the Indian Government, three State Governments and private sector companies. The aim will be to gain insight of local market conditions, opportunities and challenges while building a collaborative network with senior decision makers, influencers, academics and buyers in the Indian agri-tech industry.

The programme will start north of Delhi in the combined Punjab/Haryana state capital, Chandigarh, and will include a roundtable with both state governments, progressive farmers and academic institutions.

On 12 December, the delegation will attend the ‘India-UK Future Tech Festival in Delhi, where they will participate in the ‘Path Breaking Innovations in Agriculture’ session. This will involve key officials in Indian Government, private businesses, research organisations and UK Government ministerial attendance.

Following the festival, the delegation head on to Mumbai to interact with leading private businesses as well as the Government of Maharashtra. The delegates will end their trip with visits to farms in the Nashik region, India’s leading wine-growing area. Watch this space for a report on the trip in early January!

Meanwhile, Agri-EPI Centre member Willand Group Ltd is holding an event in London on 15 January for businesses wishing to learn more about accessing the Indian agricultural market.

The ‘Opportunities for Agri-Tech: Indian Market Catalyst Event’ will offer a summary of the market and highlight the key opportunities available to UK/EU companies. Companies will also have an opportunity to ‘pitch’ to investors and businesses which are actively looking for investment opportunities. More information is available here.

Stay informed

Keep up to date with the latest impact and results of our work, plus, news, innovation and approaches across the sector. Read our latest news and Agri-EPI blogs.

5G no leafy country lane

Duncan Forbes, Manager of our South West Dairy Development Centre in Somerset has been blogging about this 5G Farm, as part of the 5G RuralFirst project. In his latest post he writes:

Rural 5G is no leafy country lane – it’s a data super highway set to put farming in the fast lane!

Sensors are go!

We’ve been busy at the Agri-EPI Centre’s South West Dairy Development Centre equipping our 180-strong herd with Afimilk Silent Herdsman sensors – a key element in our activities as one of the three 5G RuralFirst testbeds. The sensors are fitted to the cows’ collars to measure health parameters including rumination, eating, fertility and health.

As a cow steps into one of the robotic milkers, sensors recognise the animal, record her health and fertility status and know how much milk she is expected to give. The rapid growth in wearable technology, data analytics and automation has the potential to revolutionise how dairy cows are milked and cared for.

It’s important to acknowledge that amongst all this exciting tech, we must never lose sight of the two essential elements of any dairy farm – the cows and the people who care for them. As we develop new technology, we must ensure that the advances benefit one or both of these constants.

Technology such as the Afimilk sensors and robotic milkers are giving us more and more information about the animals which means we can keep an even closer eye on their health and welfare. That’s good from an animal welfare point of view but it is also important in an economic sense – farmers need to get a good return on their investment in order to keep on producing good, healthy food.

Why called a 5G farm?

The rapidly growing number of sensors in farming are generating huge quantities of data. The strong, consistent connectivity that 5G can provide will ensure farmers can get the most out of this data. While farming technology is being adopted at a very fast rate, at present most of that technology connects by one means or another to a PC in the farm office.

It then connects through to the internet which is notoriously slow in most rural areas. 5G offers an opportunity to bypass a series of those steps along the way with the potential to pick up data directly from the sensors on the cows, bypass any need for a PC on the farm, get the data onto the cloud, combine it with other relevant data and deliver management support information directly back to farm staff. This data “round trip” could take only milliseconds allowing staff to make instant, informed decisions about livestock welfare and management.

The 5G Rural First project is going to explore the benefits of achieving this massively accelerated connectivity from sensors such as the Afimilk Silent Herdsman and other emerging technology on the dairy farm.

Farmers have suffered from very poor connectivity which limits the amount of data that can be transmitted.  This hasn’t stopped the development of agricultural technology and the industry has found many clever ways to get around the issue, but imagine if we can remove those barriers by having a fantastic highway for data that is 5G – the potential is enormous to transform data into useful information that can help revolutionise the management of livestock and the productivity of UK farming.

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Source: 5GRuralFirst

Agri-EPI Centre launches Midlands Agri-Tech Innovation Hub

Agri-EPI Centre Midlands Agri-Tech Innovation Hub

A multi-million-pound hub for the development, testing and sharing of technologies to boost productivity in farming and the food supply chain has opened in the Midlands following Innovate UK investment. Agri-EPI Centre has developed the £4.4 million research & development agri-tech facility in close partnership with Harper Adams University.

Located on the University’s campus in Shropshire, the hub will bring together researchers, technology and engineering companies and food businesses, from farmers right through to retailers.

A priority for the new hub is to encourage farmer uptake of innovative technologies to increase the overall benefits to UK agriculture.  Experts will explore how robotics, lasers, sensors and satellite technology may benefit farmers, such as robots which can pick soft fruit or lasers which can target individual weeds in a field without pesticides or damage to the crop.  Such technologies are being researched by Harper Adams and others in conjunction with industry partners, to be tested further through the Agri-EPI Centre network.

The hub was officially opened today by Sam Gyimah MP, Minister for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, who said:

“From picking soft fruits using robots, to treating crops using lasers and avoiding harmful pesticides, the innovations being considered by Agri-EPI Centre will revolutionise farming as we know it and make it more profitable than ever before.

Our agricultural sector is the biggest industrial sector in the UK and our farmers are multi-skilled – they are investor, environmentalists and scientists. We need to make sure these skills keep pace with the growth of new technologies which is why we have invested £90 million through our modern Industrial Strategy to put the UK at the forefront of these innovations and boost productivity.”

Agri-EPI Centre Midlands Agri-Tech Innovation Hub

Agri-EPI Centre Midlands Agri-Tech Innovation Hub

Agri-EPI Centre Chief Executive Dave Ross said:

“The Midlands hub is one of four ground-breaking facilities we will be running across the UK to really push forward new thinking and technologies that can boost the productivity, sustainability and profitability of the agri-food industry.”

Harper Adams Vice-Chancellor, Dr David Llewellyn, said:

“There are considerable opportunities to grow the agri-technology sector through the work of the Agri-EPI Centre and the facilities being formally opened today.  The Government has recognised the importance of this new sector by designating nearby Telford as a High Potential Opportunity area for inward investment in agri-technologies, and our Local Authority and the Marches LEP have identified agri-tech as a strategic priority, based on our activities and those of the Agri-EPI network.”

Ian Cox, Innovate UK Innovation Lead for the Agri-Tech Centres said:

“Ultimately, this is about the successful transfer of new technologies, and the skills for their use, into farming practice to improve productivity, profitability and environmental performance in food production.  Working with the Agri-EPI Centre team we are committed to achieving these objectives.”

In addition, the state-of-the-art Midlands Dairy Research Centre, developed by Agri-EPI in partnership with managed by Harper Adams, will focus on the use of next generation dairy technology to understand dairy cow behaviour and welfare. Its 50-cow robotic milking shed was designed specifically for trial work, complementing Harper Adams’ 380-strong commercial dairy herd. The Centre is sponsored by DeLaval, Easyfix and IceRobotics

 

Partners Midlands Agri-Tech Innovation Hub

Partners Agri-EPI Centre Midlands Agri-Tech Innovation Hub

Journal Sensors focusing on IoT for Precision Agriculture

Submissions are being invited to a special edition of the international journal Sensors, focusing on the ‘Internet of Things for Precision Agriculture”. The special issue of Sensors, a peer-reviewed open access journal on the science and technology of sensors and biosensors, will seek to capture the latest innovations relevant to the development and adoption of precision agriculture. The journal is being guest edited by academics at the University of Strathclyde’s Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, which Agri-EPI Centre collaborates with.

Journal topics

Topics of interest for this journal include, but are not limited to, the following themes related to sensors:

  • Intelligent Sensing Technologies
  • Data Architectures and Management
  • Edge Computing
  • Network and Communications Technologies
  • IoT Platform Integration
  • Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence
  • Emerging Applications/Services and Cloud Analytics
  • Information Visualisation
  • Security, Privacy and Trust
  • Inter-Operability and Standards
  • Emerging Business Models

The deadline for submissions is April 15, 2019. 

For further information about this journal submission, click here.

Stay informed

Keep up to date with the latest impact and results of our work, plus, news, innovation and approaches across the sector. Read our latest news and Agri-EPI blogs.

Project 5G RuralFirst results in whitepaper about high capacity rural 5G networks

5G RuralFirst is the UK’s most ambitious testbed for connectivity in rural areas, demonstrating 5G’s gamechanging potential and identifying practical use cases that will benefit businesses and communities right across the United Kingdom. Through its three testbeds in the Orkney Islands, Somerset, and Shropshire, 5G RuralFirst is identifying and exploring new business models and use cases for connectivity deployment in rural areas and showcasing the potential of 5G in rural environments.

Whitepaper

A recent whitepaper focuses specifically on the spectrum problem to be solved for high capacity rural 5G networks at 3.6 GHz and represents the views of the individual authors on the spectrum lessons that have emerged from the 5G RuralFirst project.

The importance of the 5G pioneer band 3.4-3.8 GHz to the rural community is examined in some detail. The case is made as to why a traditional approach to the release of 5G spectrum will leave rural Britain out in the cold in terms of the transformative benefits of 5G. Some alternative options are looked at and the conclusion is reached that the ‘market expansion model’ set out in the Government’s Future Telecommunications Infrastructure Report is the best option. Some use cases are presented that show opportunistic dynamic spectrum access offers more than enough bandwidth to meet the rural use cases but a small amount of anchor spectrum, to be lightly licenses on a first come first served basis, is essential to create viable investment conditions for the market expansion model.

The paper shows why an amount as little as 20 MHz is sufficient when coupled with opportunistic dynamic spectrum access rights. Such an amount is 5% of the 5G pioneer band at 3.6 GHz and would be a sound national investment likely to offer a good return from a more productive rural economy.

Download the full whitepaper >>

About 5G RuralFirst

The consortium comprises world-leading expertise from 29 partners from across the technology, broadcasting, academic, agricultural and public sectors, including Cisco, the University of Strathclyde, the BBC, the Agri-EPI Centre, Orkney Islands Council and Scottish Futures Trust. For more information, please visit www.5gruralfirst.org

Collaboration key to success of UK Agri-Tech

Successful collaboration is key to the future of UK’s agricultural technology. This was a key message to emerge from the recent Game Changing Technologies in Agriculture event, organised by the Department for International Trade.

Billed as one of the ‘must attend’ events in the UK agri-tech calendar, more than 200 attendees from farming, the supply chain and the technology sector came together in London to discuss the innovative tech being developed and applied across the agri-food industry.

Agri-EPI’s exhibition space attracted enquiries from a host of organisations keen to know about current projects and discuss opportunities for joint working.

Lee Williams,  Manager of Agri-EPI Centre’s Midlands Agri-Tech Innovation Hub also gave a joint presentation with Precision Decisions’ Clive Blacker on the benefits of collaboration in agri-tech projects, using the award-winning Hands Free Hectare project as a case study. Led by Lee, Agri-EPI Centre provides project management services and facilities to follow-on projects that are supporting the Hands Free Hectare team to improve autonomous technology and its application to farming. Lee said:

“Some of the technologies and innovations being showcased at the event were truly stunning and I was amazed at the advancement in available technologies that has taken place over the past five years, such as the progress on Artificial Intelligence.

“Compared with other sectors, agriculture is very much holding its own in the development of new technology. There is a great deal of interest from the big players with the ability to bring in new technologies from other sectors, while there are a rapidly growing number of SMEs within the industry where innovation is thriving. Successful collaboration across these areas will pave the way to an ever more exciting future for UK agri-tech. Agri-EPI Centre will be right up there playing a prominent role in helping to forge beneficial new connections.”

To find out more about Agri-EPI Centre please get in touch.

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Stay informed

Keep up to date with the latest impact and results of our work, plus, news, innovation and approaches across the sector. Read our latest news and Agri-EPI blogs.