Agri-EPI has developed its farm offering, including the addition of new members to their Farm management team over the last few of months.
Ross Robertson, head of mixed farms said:
“Over the last few months Agri-EPI has been investing heavily in its Mixed Farms Team and network of farms, bringing in an on-farm technician, enabling us to implement assets on farm, as well as speeding up the process of collecting data. In doing this, it will allow us to pick out gaps which could benefit from the use of technology to help aid on-farm decisions, as well as help to form project ideas & future collaborations with tech companies.”
Agri-EPI’s new crop farms technician, Richard Round, studied biology at the University of Bristol and received his Master’s in future food sustainability from Cranfield University. These studies equipped him with an understanding of the relationships between agriculture and the environment, and the challenges facing both in the 21st century. As crop farms technician, Richard ensures that all equipment on farm functions optimally, and that a strong line of communication is maintained between Agri-EPI and the crop farmers within the innovation farms network. By working on a variety of projects, Richards hopes to help bring forward innovation within the agricultural sector and promote both efficiency and sustainability within farming.
Agri-EPI’s new mixed farms technician, Murray Watson, works on the ground with mixed farms in Agri-EPI’s innovation farms network as the point of contact for the farmers. Murray comes from a family farm in Scotland, farming beef, sheep, and poultry. He has experience working on large dairy farms specialising mainly in calf rearing and herd management and he studied Agriculture at SRUC. Murray assists with the implementation of new tech and management of assets on Agri-EPI’s mixed farms.
Chukwudi Okolo has been at Agri-EPI since 2021 as project coordinator but has recently joined the Farms team to assist with the coordination and support of farm network activities. Having studied business management and business psychology, Chukwudi came to Agri-EPI eager to further his knowledge and experience in project management. He is now assisting with asset procurement and deployment for the farms, managing records and documents, and maintaining communication between Agri-EPI and our innovation farmers.
The Heads of the farms team include Claire Hodge, head of agri-tech (crops), Ross Robertson, head of agri-tech (mixed), Duncan Forbes, dairy project specialist, Robert Morrison, head of agri-tech (dairy) and Mike Jones, dairy technical manager.
Claire Hodge brings to the role as head of crops her in-depth knowledge and experience of the crop sector, and wide network of connections. Based at Agri-EPI’s Northern Hub in Edinburgh, she works both nationally and internationally and plays an especially important role in expanding the activities of Agri-EPI’s farm network. After graduating from Newcastle University in 2005 with a degree in agriculture, Claire worked on farms in New Zealand before joining Greenvale AP in 2006. It was here that she was introduced to the opportunities within the potato industry. Taking on various roles in procurement, trading, agronomy and factory production, she learnt about the challenges of the cycles in potato production.
Ross Robertson, head of mixed farms, comes from a farming background and has worked on farms from a young age. Ross graduated from SAC Craibstone with an HND in agriculture and went straight to work on a pedigree Aberdeen Angus farm. He progressed into sales after several years and then into area management and product development with a local manufacturer of quality livestock equipment. Working with technology equipment at development and design stages in an IUK project then led to furthering his career into his role at Agri-EPI Centre.
Dairy project specialist, Duncan Forbes, has great record of experience in the dairy industry. After several years in practical farming, Duncan moved into farm management consultancy and worked over twenty years as managing director at Kingshay. In his role at Agri-EPI Centre, based in Somerset, he is focussing on the development of the dairy research and demonstration facility for 180 cows combining robotic milking and feeding in a state-of-the-art building with precision grazing.
Agri-EPI’s head of dairy, Robert Morrison, has dedicated himself to the advancement of technology within the agri-tech sector throughout his career, with a particular focus on bringing tech to market. He served as the product manager at Fullwood Ltd, playing a crucial role in a global team responsible for conceptualising, designing, and introducing automated milking products within the Fullwood Packo Group. As head of dairy at Agri-EPI he is able to collaborate with a diverse range of exciting innovators, and work towards developing the next generation of agri-tech products contributing to the global effort of feeding the world, while also striving towards a carbon net zero future. Robert is deeply passionate about leveraging technology to enhance the productivity of farmers and facilitate them to work more sustainably to meet the growing needs of our society.
Finally, Mike Jones, dairy technical career, has centred his career on sustainable farm management in the dairy sector, including as Farm Manager of Wyndhurst Farm, Langford. Latterly he was precision technical manager at Cogent Breeding, where he was responsible for development and application of precision technology. Mike is based at Agri-EPI’s South West Dairy Development Centre but is responsible for dairy assets UK-wide. He plays a key role in steering Agri-EPI’s technical strategy in the dairy sector, as well as providing technical expertise and guidance in agri-tech R&D projects. He has a passion for dairy farming and in particular cow health and welfare. He brings experience in cow health monitoring technologies, remote management of dairy herds, cow mobility and fertility management, and in the practical deployment and use of agri-tech on dairy farms.