Agri-tech Conference explored food resilience in COVID age

Together with the Agri-Tech Centres, Agri-EPI organised the Virtual Conference ‘Innovation for Food Resilience’. The event, hosted by BBC Farming Today presenter Charlotte Smith, was designed to showcase and discuss a host of new technologies and techniques helping farming and food production to become more resilient and sustainable. The conference gathered an incredible interest: over 1200 delegates attended the conference and over 20 countries took part. Recordings are made available on demand for those unable to join on the day.

Accelerating agrifood innovation

‘Innovation for Food Resilience’ features insights into key challenges and opportunities for the food and farming sector from industry thought leaders and how new technologies and solutions being developed across the family of UK Agri-Tech Centres could play a pivotal role in supporting productivity and sustainability.

Professor Tim Benton, from international affairs think tank Chatham House, has a clear message about the need to adapt to frequent and unpredictable change and how building resilience is a key strategy for being able to effectively adjust.

NFU President Minette Batters focuses on UK trade and transition and the seismic impact that the current unknowns will have on farming businesses. She highlights how data and innovation can empower farmers to avoid risk and the opportunity for farming to offset carbon for other sectors

Ellen Wilson, Microsoft UK’s Sustainability and Smart Cities Lead highlights the importance of measuring your own journey to sustainability to effectively manage and understand the impact achieved.   Evidence points to sustainability being better for business.

Food resilience and innovation in agriculture

The 4 Agri-Tech Centres explored different aspects of the work underway to promote innovation throughout the food supply chain. Themes covered are climate smart food systems, sustainable productivity, crop and livestock health, and food provenance and quality.

In particular, CHAP’s Dr Harry Langford, spoke about Climate Resilient Food Systems, highlighting the work of CIEL’s Duchy Future Farm; Agri-EPI Centre’s Hands Free Farm and Gelponics, a CHAP project focusing on developing an autonomous, hydroponic system centered around a novel hydrogel growing media. Another project he talked about was the Agrimetrics’ regenerative agriculture platform regenagri, an initiative aimed at securing the health of the land and the wealth of those who live on it.

Stuart Blyth, Head of Business Development of CIEL, covered Food Safety and Provenance, using CIEL’s Agriplas, a cold plasma research facility investigating the potential uses of the antimicrobial properties of this pioneering technology for the food industry. He also spoke about CHAP’s NLG Centre and Crop Storage facility, and Agri-EPI Centre’s Opti-beef project as a good example of the wide range of work being done in this area. The Opti-Beef project is about creating an enhanced decision support platform to modernise, standardise, and drive efficiency improvements across the UK beef supply chain.

Dr Shamal Mohammed, Chief Technical Officer at Agri-EPI Centre looked at Sustainable Productivity, including CHAP’s Soil Health Facility, Agrimetric’s Verde Analytics and CIEL’s Precision Grazing. Last but not least, Anna Woodley, Agrimetrics Head of Sales, covered Crop and Livestock Health with a focus on looking at whole systems rather than managing risks in isolation.

Presentations were followed by a lively Q&A session, with lots of interaction from delegates across the globe. Closing remarks, by Dr Ian Campbell, interim Executive Chair of Innovate UK, provide the key ‘takeaways’ from the event. In particular, he notes how collaboration is key and how the combined capability of the UK Agri-Tech Centres offers the front door for industry to world leading expertise and capabilities.

View on demand

The event can be viewed in its entirety on the UK Agri-Tech Centres YouTube channel.

Event impression

Get in touch

Let us know what Agri-EPI, together with the Agri-Tech Centres, can do for your organisation or how we can inspire innovation in agriculture even further and fill out our contact form.

Wonder of agri-tech to be shared at New Scientist Live virtual event

The wonderful world of agri-tech will be shared with visitors to the New Scientist Live ‘Future of Food and Agriculture’ virtual event on Saturday 28 November.

Agri-EPI and its fellow UK Agri-Tech Centres CHAP and CIEL will be running a host of engaging talks, with opportunities for the audience to ‘ask the experts’ about the role and impact of new technologies and techniques supporting sustainable food.

Agri-EPI’s contribution to this year’s new scientist live

Agri-EPI will be running a live, 30-minute session from 2.30pm titled ‘Tech to Feed the World’. This will take viewers on a whistle stop tour of three of the newest and most exciting technologies involved in producing our food and getting it onto our plates.

The featured innovations, and the exerts behind them, are ‘SlugBot’, an amazing technology that helps reduce farmers’ need for pesticides by controlling crop-munching critters; Crover, a very clever robot that can ‘swim’ through grain stores to monitor conditions; and the new ‘wonder’ technology ‘cold plasma’ which has a multitude of surprising uses in farming and the food supply chain.

The Agri-Tech Centres will also be hosting virtual exhibition stand, with a packed programme of films, Q&As and resources accessible to visitors throughout the day.

Find out more and register here.

Event partners

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.

Ericsson recognises Agri-EPI CEO Dave Ross as 5G Trailblazer and pioneer

Agri-EPI CEO Dave Ross has been chosen as a 5G Trailblazer and connectivity pioneer by Ericsson.

With 5G Trailblazers, Ericsson is shedding a light on important projects that are gaining momentum and to inspire people about what 5G can do to change their lives and businesses. The Pioneers are those working at the forefront of their industries, harnessing the power of 5G to drive crucial projects and show the full potential of 5G connectivity.

5G rural innovation

Agri-EPI is playing a leading role in a number of exciting projects exploring how 5G can support sustainable and productive farming. This includes evaluating collars worn by cows to monitor their health, welfare and productivity and using 5G-connected drones to asses the volume and quality of grass for livestock grazing.

Agri-EPI Centre is strategic partner and starting its involvement to 5G New Thinking, a programme aiming to make next generation connectivity an achievable reality for rural communities across the UK.

Dave Ross about 5G connectivity in the UK:

“The UK agricultural community is under pressure to produce more food, with less labour and less impact on the environment. Drones, autonomous vehicles, robotics and remote sensing and diagnostics will significantly change how we farm in the UK, but this innovation will only be possible if network connectivity in our rural areas is dramatically improved.”

Many belief Britain has never needed 5G more. They argue it has the potential to transform the way we live and work for the better, fast-tracking the UK’s economic recovery and enabling the use of game-changing technology in every field.

Accreditation badge PIONEER | Ericssons 5G Trailblazers | Dave Ross Agri-EPI | 5G New Thinking | ConnectivityMeet other 5G Trailblazers

Ericsson is championing the top 25 people and teams working at the forefront of 5G innovation. Learn here more about other pioneers, catalysts and conversation starters and their cutting-edge work, changing lives and businesses across the UK.

5G connectivity projects

5G New Thinking is a natural evolution of the 5G RuralFirst project, a co-innovation project to create rural test-beds and trials for 5G wireless and mobile connectivity across the Orkney Islands, Shropshire, and Somerset.

The best Farm Business Managers review and plan ahead

In farming circles, November is normally the start of the winter round of conferences, events and a wide range of meetings from Business Groups and Monitor Farms to commercial companies showcasing their products for the coming season. Not so this year and farmer’s diaries will instead be filling up with invites to webinars, podcasts and virtual events – including Agri-EPI’s own webinar showcasing the benefits of technology at Parkend with Satellite Farmer, Brian Weatherup, on the 25th November.

Personally, I miss the face to face interaction of a “live” meeting, particularly in a smaller workshop format, where body language can signify so much and pull in completely different threads to a discussion. However, we are where we are and as Farm Business Managers it is vital to gather as much knowledge as possible from our peers and colleagues by whatever means are available.

In the last update I said that harvest has been varied across the country, but I hadn’t appreciated how varied until recently. NE Scotland has had a record harvest with average spring barley yields of over 8.5t/ha not uncommon and autumn drilled crops looking exceptional – yet a very different story in the south of the country. Whilst I have no doubt the weather is the main factor in this difference, I wonder if it’s the only one. Farmers in Aberdeenshire, where harvest moisture for wheat is regularly well above 20%, are used to growing cereals under challenging weather conditions – so are they routinely doing something different to mitigate the weather impact?

Perhaps the focus on virtual communication is an opportunity to “visit” a farm geographically remote from your own, see what they do differently and what areas could be applied to benefit your own farm. So when trawling through the on-line lists and invites, perhaps look to subjects and areas which may seem less relevant to your own farm.

November is also the time of year to carry out an in-depth review of the past season, whether it be crops or livestock – what worked, what didn’t work, what could have been done better and apply that to the planning for next season.

Opportunities for farm business managers

Another opportunity created by virtual communication is to use the time freed up to take this review and planning process a step further and look 5 years ahead. There will be significant changes taking place during this time initiated by Brexit, climate change and consumer habits.

Get your close advisors involved and have a think about what the farming environment might be like in 5 years’ time, how fit will your business be and what might you have to change to ensure you maintain a resilient business.

As the business environment will change, the level of technology available is likely going to change at an even greater rate and will be a key tool in maintaining a resilient business. You need to marry up technology to what you think your business will need to look like in 5 years’ time, investing in areas of your farm and business that you may not have considered in the past, but which opportunities have arisen through the combination of emerging technologies and changing circumstances.

There is one constant in business and that is change – you are either moving forwards against your peers or moving backwards against your peers – there is no such thing as standing still.

Change will create opportunities and by taking time to think and plan ahead now, you will be in the best position to capitalise on these opportunities when they come your way.

 


Gavin Dick

Gavin has a broad working experience in agriculture, having managed a large farming enterprise in Aberdeenshire including combinable crops, seed potatoes, pigs, poultry and 650 dairy cows producing milk for ice-cream through a robotic milking system. He then moved to manage an estate in Perthshire specialising in pedigree beef and combinable crops, as well as a country house hotel with shooting and fishing interests. Gavin worked at SAC before moving to AHDB where he worked with farmers in a Knowledge Exchange role to broaden their business management skills and, as he joined Agri-EPI, oversees all Satellite Farm Network activity.

UK Agri-Tech Centres showcasing latest agri-food innovations

From a robot that can ‘swim’ through grain stores to the ‘wonder’ technology cold plasma, the UK Agri-Tech Centres’ most exciting collaborative projects will be showcased at their joint conference, ‘Innovation for Food Resilience’, this Thursday, November 19.

Experts from Agrimetrics, Agri-EPI centre, CHAP and CIEL will discuss a host of new technologies and techniques helping farming and food production to become more resilient and sustainable. They will focus on advancements in four key areas: Net Zero; sustainable production; crop and animal health; and food quality and provenance.
The free, virtual event will also feature sessions from keynote speakers NFU President Minette Batters; Chatham House Director of Energy, Environment and Resources, Prof. Tim Benton; and Microsoft’s Sustainability and Smart Cities Lead Ellen Wilson.

Speaking on behalf of the four Agri-Tech Centres, Lyndsay Chapman, Chief Executive of CIEL said:

“As the UK’s four Agri-Tech Centres it is our mission to support collaboration and innovation right across the food supply chain. Our aim in holding this conference is to bring together all those with an interest in food resilience to discuss the opportunities, challenges and priorities for action during this unprecedented time.

“We’ll be highlighting some of the latest developments in agri-tech that the Centres have achieved in collaboration with our wide range of partners. This is helping to support sustainable and profitable farming and food production.”

Agri-Tech Centres Event | 'Innovation for Food Resilience' | 19 November 2020

Driving agri-food innovations

The four Agri-Tech Centres of Agricultural Innovation are the result of a unique collaboration between UK Government, academia and industry to drive greater efficiency, resilience and wealth across the agri-food sector. A £90 million investment from the UK’s strategic innovation agency, Innovate UK, is enabling the Centres to harness leading UK research and expertise as a well as build new infrastructure and innovation.

Together, the four Centres aim to:

  • Join-up existing excellence and invest in new innovative research and resources that don’t exist elsewhere
  • Address challenges that no single part of the sector can address alone
  • Open up opportunities for transformational change
  • Position the UK as a global leader in sustainable food production

For more information about the UK Agri-Tech Centres of Agricultural Innovation, please visit www.agritechcentres.com

 

Innovate UK is the UK’s innovation agency. It works with people, companies and partner organisations to find and drive the science and technology innovations that will grow the UK economy. For further information visit www.innovateuk.gov.uk

Farm software solutions to enable farmers’ decision making

With national and international expertise and reach, our partners are drawn from throughout the UK and beyond, with hands-on farming, agri-tech and academic specialisms. We would like to introduce to you: Landmark Systems.

Landmark Systems is the market leading provider of farm business management software, designed to provide farmers with easy-to-use tools that help them stay compliant and make the right business decisions. They have provided award winning software and Mobile Apps to farms across the UK for over 30 years. Covering all elements of farm business management, Landmark helps growers and producers to streamline administrative work, while collecting crucial farm financial performance data – to form the basis of future business decisions.

Software product range

The software range covers financial, cropping and livestock records and can be used in the cloud or installed on a PC.

Accounts and budgeting

The KEYPrime range has products suitable for all levels of business complexity. From simple cashbook accounts, to large multi-enterprise operations with diverse reporting and user needs. The entire range comes with comprehensive management reports facilitating decision making and forecasting.

“You need to trust a program and that means trusting what it can do for you. That applies to KEYPrime Intro…. Now that we have [my son] Joe fully involved I have more time to embrace and enjoy what technology can do for us.” ~ Jim Dufosee, Wiltshire farmer

Crop records

Geofolia, with its Mobile App, is used by more than 23,000 farmers worldwide. Developed by our parent company ISAGRI, it provides growers with an easy to use tool to produce detailed information for example stock management and crop satellite analysis. Records are updated live from the field with a smartphone. Field, variety, crop and farm performance can be monitored with reports, or more visual on-screen graphs and dashboards.

“Compared to the platform that we were using previously, we have found Geofolia very user friendly. It also saves a great deal of time as staff can have jobs sent via their mobile with the highlighted fields, the machinery to use as well as any further instructions.” ~ Jeremy Padfield, West Sussex farmer.

Livestock records

Cattledata makes updating births, deaths, sales, movements and the medicine book quick and simple to do and makes light work of updating national databases. The newly introduced Cattledata Mobile App has already proved itself on farm and was a 2020 Royal Highland Show product award winner.

“Having Cattledata on my phone means I can see exactly what has happened to any cow. It’s a real bonus not having to rack my brains or go back to the PC. I am able to record things on the go, so I don’t forget them.” ~ Stephen, Inverness farmer

On-farm live accuracy software

Administration and record keeping are an essential element of running a farm business. In some cases, keeping these records digitally is required by law – the business VAT return for example. However, farmers using software across their businesses will equip themselves and their successors for the control needed in today’s uncertain economic climate. We aim to give rural businesses the products to make fast decisions based on ‘live’ accurate information.

The software is designed with three things in mind:

  • Ease of use | Technology should be accessible for everyone.
  • Saving time | Understanding that most farmers prefer to spend their time in the field, rather than the office.
  • Better decisions | Allowing the time spent on keeping records to help farmers make informed decisions about the future of their business.

Landmark Systems has dedicated local consultants, trainers and a telephone support team to ensure clients get the most from their software.

More information

If you would like to understand more about the on-farm software solutions on offer, please contact Landmark Systems by using the following contact details:

T: 01798 877100
E: info@landmarksystems.co.uk
6 Swan Court, Station Road, Pulborough, West Sussex, RH20 1RL
Open 5 days a week Mon – Fri – 9.00 am to 5.30 pm