World-class agri-tech in Africa

Establishing trust between farmers and investors

GRID tool

An innovative digital farming system is helping to increase yields across thousands of hectares of farmland in southern Africa while also creating new jobs locally and in the UK.

AgSpace Agriculture’s new GRID system gives farmers access to the most advanced agricultural satellite mapping and analysis available, backed by independent agronomic advice. The information helps producers to make better management decisions and allows them to offer evidence of their crops’ performance to financial providers to gain access to credit and insurance.

Partners GRID

GRID was developed under a two-year European Space Agency-backed project involving AgSpace, Agri-EPI Centre and RHIZA. It is the first tool on the market specifically allowing farmers and financial providers to track crop performance.

Agri-Tech in Africa

There has been rapid uptake of the product following its launch earlier this year. It is now operational in nine African countries, and involves financial providers including Standard Bank. Further expansion is predicted to create up to 775 jobs between the UK and Africa by 2024.

AgSpace Director, Vince Gillingham, said:

“Some 80% of the African workforce makes a living from agriculture but many are crippled by a lack of access to financial products to develop their businesses. Price fluctuations for inputs and products, along with crop failure, due to pests, diseases, temperature or variable rainfall, hold the entire agricultural ecosystem back. 

“It is very difficult for credit providers to measure risk in the face of such variables without good data from farmers. GRID offers a precision data-driven opportunity for overcoming this barrier, giving providers the evidence and confidence they need to support farmers in increasing yields, growing their farms and ultimately contributing to wider economic development.”

GRID uses high resolution satellite data to monitor crop performance while providing local weather data for every farm on an hourly basis. It provides soil mapping and soil health monitoring, supports fertiliser planning for increased efficiency and higher yields and calculates yield predictions.

Farmers access agronomy advice by smart phone to improve production while financial providers use the same satellite data to monitor crop performance and build a clear picture of each farm, whatever its size and however remote.

Dave Ross, Agri-EPI Centre CEO said:

“We are delighted to have contributed to the emerging success of the GRID product. By using our company assets, including our database of high-resolution earth observation data, combined with analytics, this has enabled the optimal refinement of the system, which has now moved rapidly to a commercial offering. We are particularly pleased that Agri-EPI has assisted in the near-future prospect of up to 1000 jobs shared between the UK and Africa. This makes a valuable contribution from Agri-EPI input and continues to show evidence of world-class agri-tech solutions from the UK being exported around the globe.”

Francesco Feliciani, Head of the Commercial Applications Section of ESA, added:

“We are proud for having hosted the development and validation of the GRID service as part of our Integrated Applications Programme. We are convinced that GRID is a game changer in supporting farmers and associated financial services to understand the performance of farming businesses virtually everywhere in the world. This is key especially in times challenged by extreme weather events.

We have directly witnessed how the GRID service is used by farming companies in Africa, and we are fascinated by its capability to turn complex datasets and analytics into easy to understand information through a very intuitive and appealing user interface.”

More information

For further information about GRID, please download the GRID information brochure or contact Vincent Gillingham, AgSpace Director.

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 agri-tech news and Agri-EPI blogs.

Agri-EPI Centre welcomes new team members

We are pleased to announce and welcome the arrival of three new staff members to our team. With Lisa, Francesca and Emily on board, we will be able to drive forward our goals to support a productive and sustainable agri-food sector and help us demonstrate that there is an exciting and tech-driven future for agriculture. Let us introduce our new team members here in more detail:

Lisa Williams
>Director of Business Development

Lisa has vast experience in the agri-food sector, having spent over 20 years working in the industry in a variety of different roles. She loves the diversity of the sector and wants to showcase solutions and help improve agricultural businesses.

Her varied career has involved working directly in food manufacturing, which has included roles in health and safety, HR, technical and management.

While working for Food Northwest, she held the role of project manager, working across international trade, seafood, dairy and meat. Her positions have seen her travel around the world with different projects and given her breadth and depth of experience.

More recently, Lisa headed the agri-food division of Promar International, with a focus on business development, project delivery, implementing systems, PR and team management. Her broad, but agri-food related career has brought her to where she is now.

Lisa joined Agri-EPI on 30 September 2019, taking on the role of Director of Business Development. She feels that this position is a combination of all the previous roles and will build on everything she has done in the past. She is very excited to focus on engaging with members and promoting agri-tech solutions so that all aspects of the agriculture and food supply chains can reap the rewards and benefit from the improvements to their own businesses and supply chain.

Francesca El Jorr
>Marketing Officer

Francesca is a Marketing with Brand Management graduate from the University of Stirling, who has experience working in the Higher Education sector. In her role as Marketing Officer at Agri-EPI Centre, she supports the Centre’s efforts in raising its online and organisational profile in the Agri-Tech industry. Agri-tech is a new industry for Francesca, but she is looking forward learning more about the impact that Agri-Tech has on both national and global food production, for both farmers and business owners.

Emily Laskin
>Projects Assistant

Emily is a graduate from University of California, Davis with a degree in Biological and Agricultural Engineering. Growing up surrounded by farmland in Northern California as well as having spent many summers with her family in England’s Lake District sparked a passion for local and sustainable food production from an early age. Whilst at university she focused on projects involving food science and technology and indoor vertical farming. She is excited to join the technical team at Agri-EPI supporting the success of projects on the satellite farms and Innovate UK funded research projects.

 

Careers

We expect further expansion of staff, so watch this space for updates. If you are have general enquiries about working at Agri-EPI Centre, please contact our HR Manager:

Suzie Brown
people@agri-epicentre.com
T 0131 239 7100

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.

Kiwi alliance speeds innovation development

Global collaboration plays a vital role in developing solutions for our farming industries – so in September we were delighted to receive 20+ visitors from New Zealand on an innovation-led agri-tech mission. The visit followed our own expert mission to New Zealand in March this year: our nations have many farming similarities, so agri-tech innovators are uniquely placed to share challenges and opportunities.

Farmers across the UK and Ireland already use technology from New Zealand companies like LIC, Gallagher, Waikato and Tru-Test, and there is plenty that our own innovators can do to help farmers across the globe. The challenges are the same whether you farm in New Zealand or the UK: achieving greater productivity and efficiencies, labour availability, environmental pressures and changing consumer preferences. Smart technological solutions can help answer those challenges.

With the help of the Department of International Trade, Innovate UK, Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland, the Callaghan Innovation-led mission visited the Irish National Ploughing Championships and UK Dairy Day, as well as our Agri-EPI hub in the Midlands and the South West Dairy Development Centre in Somerset.

Les Hurdiss, Operations Manager at the Midlands Agri-Tech Innovation Hub, explains:

“Agriculture is New Zealand’s number one industry, so their government really promotes innovation. But the domestic market is small, so they need to expand globally.”

By creating ‘landing pads’ in the UK, employing British staff, receiving British investment and developing new innovations for the British market, everyone stands to benefit.

In addition, having a straightforward entry to the New Zealand market helps our own investors and innovators, while having a presence on opposite sides of the world speeds up technological advances due to the ability to squeeze two seasons of testing into one 12-month period.

Having returned to New Zealand, Peter Wren-Hilton, Executive Director of Agritech New Zealand, has already drafted actions and initiatives to submit to Government ministers. Times are moving rapidly ahead: watch this space.

Logo KTNMission report

Earlier this year, Agri-EPI Centre took part in Agri-Tech Expert Missions to Australia and New Zealand respectively. KTN has delivered two separate publications that summarise the opportunities for UK organisations in both areas and insights gathered during the delegation’s time. Don’t miss out on these insightful documents and download them here.

Innovate UK’s Global Expert Missions, led by Innovate UK’s Knowledge Transfer Network, play an important role in building strategic partnerships, providing deep insight into the opportunities for UK innovation and shaping future programmes.

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.

UK agri-tech start-up Roboscientific Wins Tesco Agri T-Jam

Pre-Summit Pitch Day Tesco

 

A UK agri-tech start-up beat over 100 international entrants to win the 2019 Tesco Agri T-Jam on Monday October 14, hosted in partnership with the World Agri-Tech Innovation Summit.

The second annual Tesco Agri T-Jam and World Agri-Tech Pitch Day saw ten exciting agri-food start-ups present their ideas for improving supply chain efficiency and sustainability. For the first time, the Agri T-Jam was held at Tesco’s HQ and Heart Building, offering the entrepreneurs the opportunity to meet a variety of Tesco colleagues and supplier partners, as well as key investors from among the summit’s global audience.

Tesco’s Agri-Food team led the judging panel with Emmanuelle Lerges (Food Technical & Agriculture Director), Mark Suddaby (Category Director: Meat, Fish, Poultry), Natalie Smith (Head of Agriculture) and Jo Hickson (Head of Tesco Labs) joined by supply chain partner Branston’s Vee Gururajan (Innovations Director).

Winner Roboscientific

Roboscientific has developed a new generation of sensors for detecting disease, infestation and contamination in agricultural products using Volatile Organic Compounds.  The technology is fast, reliable and affordable and at the point of commercialisation for its automatic early disease detection system for growing broiler poultry and early alerts of spoilage in stored potato and onion crops.

Commenting on the winning selection, Tesco’s Emmanuelle Lerges said:

“We have to commend the high standard of the pitches and the different technologies that made it to the final, across a wide range of sectors. It made it very difficult to choose one winner, but in Roboscientific, we see a fantastic opportunity for long term collaboration, from reducing antibiotics and waste to disease identification and food safety improvements. We look forward to working with Ben and the team at Roboscientific on trialling and developing technology through our supply chain.”

Ben Curtis, Research Development Manager at Roboscientific:

“We’re shell-shocked and elated! It’s been a great experience and we look forward to working together with Tesco and its partners to improve food wastage and animal welfare within the food supply chain.”

Roboscientific will now benefit from introductions to Tesco’s supply chain partners, as well as ongoing support from the Tesco Agriculture team, the value of which was shared in an update from last year’s winner, ImpactVision. Roboscientific will also pitch to the full World Agri-Tech Innovation Summit as part of the start-up Technology Showcase on Wednesday October 16, showcasing its solution to an audience of more than 500 international agribusiness leaders and investors.

The remaining nine finalists will also join the summit: Acris Biotechnology (UK), Biosystems Engineering (UK), BlakBear (UK), CCm Technologies (UK), Faromatics (Spain), Metronome Technologies (UK), N2 Applied (Norway), Proteon Pharmaceuticals (Poland), and Smartbell (UK).

World Agri-Tech Innovation Summit Association Partner

Smartbell logo

Agri-EPI Centre member Smartbell

As you read this we are pleased to be an Association Partner at the World Agri-Tech Innovation Summit in London on 15-16 October. Renowned as the leading platform for new partnerships and business deals, we will be rubbing shoulders with international companies, investors, and start-up representatives. It is sure to generate some exciting opportunities.

One of our members; Smartbell, made it through to the final 10 to pitch their solution to the Tesco Agri T-Jam at the Innovation Summit. An animal health management platform, Smartbell’s real-time monitoring uses AI and the Internet of Things to improve disease detection and productivity. Although Smartbell did not go home with a win today, we warmly congratulate the Smartbell Team for making it to the top 10 entrants.

As Association Partner of the World Agri-Tech Innovation Summit and the Tesco T-Jam, we will offer our members – early to mid-stage agri-tech start-ups in this case – also next year the opportunity to showcase their solutions that can help optimise Tesco’s ag supply chain.

 

More information

For more information on all finalists and the summit visit: https://worldagritechinnovation.com/tesco-agri-t-jam/

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.

How to prepare your business for Brexit

The Government’s Brexit negotiations appear to be continuing to the deadline, and while great uncertainty remains there are some knowns which can help businesses prepare. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has issued a series of bulletins to guide agri-food businesses through the UK’s departure from the EU, which is currently scheduled to take place on 31 October. Specific guidance for food and drink businesses is available on the Food and Drink GOV.UK landing page, including advice for importers and exporters of animal products, food labelling, tariffs, data protection and more.

There are also several events and webinars available:

> Brexit Business Readiness Events

The Government is arranging free Brexit Business Readiness Events across the UK where you can meet Government advisers and find out what actions to take.

The events will combine a keynote address, interactive support, advice stands and in-depth sessions led by subject matter experts. They will provide delegates with specific business-focused advice and help.

Register to attend an event at: https://registration.livegroup.co.uk/brexitbusinessreadinessevents/

> DIT Get ready for Brexit business-facing workshops

The Department for International Trade is also running a series of events to help exporters to get ready for Brexit – these will be particularly useful for businesses who are exporting to the EU.

DIT will talk about the impact to supply chains, changes to regulations and contracts, where to find tariff information, and what you might need to speak to customers and employees about. You will leave the event with a personalised action plan to prepare your business for Brexit.

See dates, locations and sign up – limited registration place available.

> HMRC Getting ready for Brexit webinars

HMRC is running a number of webinars for UK businesses involved in the movement of goods between the EU and the UK.

Find out what you need to know to keep importing and exporting by signing up for a webinar.

> Trading with the UK as an EU business after Brexit

If you’re an EU business not established in the UK, check what you’ll need to do differently to trade with the UK in a no-deal Brexit. The guidance can be found here.

> Identify livestock for export to the EU in a no-deal Brexit

The UK can continue exporting livestock to the EU in a no-deal Brexit however there is a requirement to follow some extra rules on ear tagging. Please find guidance on how to identify sheep, cattle, pigs and goats when exporting to the EU in a no-deal Brexit.

> Food exporters: Get ready for animal health regulations

Importers and exporters of animals and animal products – including meat, cheese and fish – will be subject to new requirements if the UK leaves the EU without a deal. George Eustice MP shares his thoughts here.

> How to move goods through RORO locations in a no-deal Brexit

A process flow for freight roll-on, roll-off (RORO) imports and exports between the UK and the EU for a no-deal Brexit (excluding Northern Ireland) is available here.

> Hauliers and commercial drivers will need new documents to transport goods into the EU after Brexit

GOV.UK guidance is available here summarising document requirements for the driver, vehicle, cargo and customs to transport goods into the EU after Brexit.

> EU Regulation: Smarter rules for safer food

The EU is introducing new rules to protect against animal disease and plant pests. The new Official Controls Regulation (EU) 2017/625 and Plant Health Regulation (EU) 2016/2031 will apply in EU member states from 14 December 2019. How and when the UK implements these regulations will depend on Brexit. UK exporters will need to comply with these regulations when they come into force in all Brexit scenarios. Further information on this can be found 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.

Agri-EPI at New Scientist Live

Together with Farmers Weekly, Agri-EPI Centre joined Agrimetrics, CIEL, CHAP and its partners GEA Group and RHIZA for the New Scientist Live festival in London today (10 October). The event, which is in its fourth year, has been recognised as Europe’s top science festival, and is expected to welcome a crowd of over 40,000 visitors in its four day run, 10 – 13 October.

Visitors to stall 611 at the Ag Pavilion, where the four Centres and partners are based, have the opportunity to witness first-hand the positive impact that technology has on the farming industry, and on the planet as a whole, as Tom Westerman, RHIZA Digital Manager, explains:

“Agriculture is a forward thinking technical industry and has got a huge role to play in the future of our planet, ensuring food security and sustainability.”

Demonstrations at New Scientist Live

During New Scientist Live, RHIZA is helping farmers tackle this face on with its Contour desktop and mobile app, which helps farmers identify their areas of better or worse crop and is on display at today’s festival, as are GEA Group, who have brought along their DairyRobot R9500.

The robot has been designed to automatically take care of premium quality milk and free up resources to make the farmer’s daily planning and routine more flexible and effective.

David Simmons, Head of Milking & Dairy Farming Sales at GEA Group, said of the event:

“We couldn’t agree more that technology is transforming the world of farming. It’s our absolute pleasure to show students and youngsters how fast-paced and high-tech the farming industry really is.”

Considering a career in agri-tech? Visit New Scientist Live!

It’s been anticipated that by 2025, the agricultural technology sector will be worth more than £136 billion globally. The UK Government is keen to contribute to this number, and in recent years, has invested in four agri-tech centres to lead in its efforts. The four Centres, Agri-EPI Centre, Agrimetrics, CHAP and CIEL, work collaboratively to harness leading UK research and expertise as well as build new infrastructure and innovation.

The Centres also work with leading partners to drive growth and offer support for innovative ideas and projects that help farmers and business owners become more profitable and sustainable. Naomi Smitten, Projects Co-ordinator for Agri-EPI explains:

“The projects are made up of experts from all industries focused on, but not limited to, Agriculture. Most of the companies that are involved in our projects are already operating organisations and/or universities. They don’t necessarily have the time or skill set to align a project.”

To date, the Centres have worked on a number of game-changing projects, such as Hands Free Farm with Harper Adams University and Precision Soil Mapping with partners Cranfield University, AgSpace, Innovate UK and The James Hutton Institute.

Event photo impression:

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.