International - Agri-EPI Centre - Engineering Precision Innovation

International

Agri-EPI collaborates with growers and scientists around the world. Partnering on international projects, as well as initiatives throughout the UK. Supporting agriculture, horticulture and aquaculture, Agri-EPI explores and delivers precision farming engineering, technology and innovation. Discover more about our international collaborations and projects.

Agri-EPI hosts agri-tech focused tour for New Zealand delegation

This month Agri-EPI hosted a visit from Callaghan Innovation and Agritech New Zealand.

Beginning with a visit to one of their satellite farms, Kaiapoi Farm, farmer Robert Hodgkins showcased his new sheep dairy and discussed the realities of farming in the UK and opportunities for deployment of agri-tech.

Agri-EPI works with an extensive network of real commercial farms and research facilities in the UK and internationally, offering a platform through which innovators can verify the effectiveness of their new idea or technology in practice.Their farm network is key to connecting farmers with technology developers, advancing the adoption of agri-tech and enhancing the sustainability of farm businesses.

The next leg of the visit involved a tour of Agri-EPI’s new Agri-informatics building at Cranfield University and the shared Agri-EPI Centre and Crop Health & Protection – CHAP phenotyping glasshouse facility, a superb asset for companies to use for R&D and trials. They were joined there by representatives from the university, CHAP, and Innovate UK.

With a stopover to UK Dairy Day, they watched Agri-EPI members at MilktechNZ showcase their award winning CR-1 electronic cup removers, followed by a visit to Harper Adams University where Hands Free Farm demonstrated their autonomous combine harvester in action.

The final stop was Agri-EPI’s Midlands Agri-tech Innovation Hub where networking and discussions around UK funding and the potential for future collaboration took place.

Jane Lycett, International Business Development Manager at Agri-EPI, who coordinated the visit, said:

“It was great to host an inward mission of innovative agri-tech companies, led by Callaghan Innovation and Agritech New Zealand. The visit provided an opportunity to showcase a number of Agri EPI Centre’s facilities and expertise and discuss areas for future collaboration between UK and New Zealand.”

Specialising in connecting knowledgeable experts and new solutions across the agricultural sectors, Agri-EPI aims to help deliver profitable and sustainable cutting-edge technologies to market.

 

   

Paraguay SMART Farm Project: Adapting Origin Digital’s Contour Platform to the South American Climate

Agri-EPI Centre has been leading the Innovate UK-supported SMART Farm project in Paraguay since January 2018. It has involved partnering with a farming business to demonstrate UK agri-tech in the agricultural economy of Paraguay.

The farming business, GVASA in San Pedro, spans 85,000 hectares and incorporates cattle, maize, soybean and rice production enterprises. This phase of the SMART Farm project has focused on implementing Origin Digital’s Contour platform across GVASA’s arable fields, providing the farmer with in-depth soil health information, effective crop growth models, and enabling variable rate application.

Origin has worked collaboratively with Agri-Epi and Innovate UK to gather information on 6927 hectares of field boundaries and cropping information in Paraguay. Management zones were created over 1,661 of these hectares using soil brightness technology, and 589.6 had precision zonal sampling done on them for nutrient analysis.

Using crop growth model rulesets developed for Africa, the team were able to deploy these models in Paraguay with high levels of accuracy. Minor localisation of the models further increased the accuracy confirming the localisable value. These models include crop growth stage and yield predictors.

“The African models showed a strong correlation with actual South American yields , says Dan Wood at Origin Digital.

“And accuracy improved further when adjustments were made to the models to begin localising them further to South America, showing that our crop growth models can be successfully deployed in this geography.”

A particularly useful outcome is variable rate fertiliser recommendations, which can lead to significant cost savings, increased soil health, and improved efficiencies, yield and profitability.

“It has been a pleasure to manage the Paraguay SMART Farm project, particularly facilitating Origin Digital’s successful adaption of the Contour platform to the South American climate,” says Emily Laskin, farms technical coordinator at Agri-EPI.

“Seeing British technology provide efficiency and sustainability benefits to farming practices internationally shows us how we can make a difference and is a source of pride for the entire team at Agri-EPI.”

The economic outcome of introducing UK technology means more profitable farming systems, reduced environmental footprint and improved economic sustainability.

 

Read more:

Paraguay case study

Jane Lycett joins Agri-EPI Centre

Jane Lycett has joined the Agri-EPI Centre team as our new International Business Development Manager.

Born on a Shropshire dairy farm, Jane graduated from the Agriculture Department at Reading University. She worked in dairy sales before pursuing a career in business support, funding and inward investment. For the past decade she has worked with the Department for International Trade, initially based in the British Embassy in Paris and then in the UK, to work for DIT’s Investment Services Team. More recently she worked as their Agri-food Specialist.

Through her role with DIT, Jane worked closely with the Agri-EPI Centre, and since joining the AEC team as International Business Development Manager last month, has continued to develop international relationships and identify collaboration opportunities with overseas partners. This includes leading on the International SmartFarm initiative to support efficient and sustainable approaches to farming and food production across a range of countries, working with UK agri-tech innovators.

“I’m looking forward to identifying opportunities to deploy world class UK agri-tech expertise overseas and also collaborate with companies from other part of the globe – working with the hugely talented and dedicated team at Agri EPI Centre” – Jane Lycett, International Business Development Manager at Agri-EPI Centre

Swiss crop electrophysiology specialist Vivent is a registered B Corporation™

The ‘Fitbit of plants’, Vivent’s PhytlSigns device, the first commercial crop health diagnostic system based on plant electrophysiology, has been certified as a B Corp – a Certified Benefit Corporation – after meeting rigorous social and environmental standards which represent its commitment to do business in a meaningful way, by pursuing purpose as well as profit. Vivent’s technology leads to increased yields, improved crop protection effectiveness, and encourages the adoption of environmentally preferable protection solutions – so more food, less chemicals. With recertification every three years, Vivent has embarked on a process that aims at ever higher standards and continuous improvement.     

The B Corp Certification covers the whole business – five key impact areas of Governance, Workers, Community, Environment and Customers. The certification process is rigorous, the company has to score over 80 points and provide evidence of socially and environmentally responsible practices – including energy supplies, waste and water use, worker compensation, diversity and corporate transparency. To complete the certification, Vivent had to legally embed their commitment to purpose beyond profit in their company articles. Vivent scored 101.7 in its overall B impact score. 50.9 is the median for ordinary uncertified businesses.

Vivent is now part of a community of over 4500+ businesses globally who have certified as B Corps. The B Corp Community is reflective of the global economy with businesses from a cross section of industries and sizes. These include well-known brands like innocent, Patagonia, Alpro, Triodos Bank, Alessi, and Ecoalf. Recent attention on the agriculture and agritech sectors makes Vivent’s B Corp Certification a notable step, and signals a shift towards greater accountability and transparency. Vivent joins Swiss agritech companies Ecorobotix and CleanGreens as well as 60 other Swiss B Corps.

Carrol Plummer, CEO of Vivent says: “The B Corp certification has been a goal of Vivent’s since its inception. The process was tough, but fair and really helped us to work on many aspects of organization management including our sustainability objectives and streamlining our mission.”

Jonathan Normand, Founder and CEO of B Lab™ Switzerland : “We are very pleased to welcome Vivent to the B Corp community.  As an innovative technology serving agriculture and research, we welcome their commitment to accelerate the transition in a collaborative approach to a resilient and stakeholder economy.”

There are currently 745 certified B Corps in Europe and 4500+ worldwide. Other agriculture and food industry B Corps include Ynsect, AppHarvest, Danone Canada, and Aerofarms.

About Vivent: 

Vivent was founded in 2012 by serial entrepreneurs Carrol Plummer and Dr. Nigel Wallbridge, who have now applied their information processing and telecommunication system skills to biological networking, with an initial focus on crop monitoring. The pair have worked with leading agricultural institutes, universities, crop protection companies and growers to validate this innovative approach. Vivent’s focus is on high-capital indoor growing operations with plans to move into high-value outdoor crops and then into large volume field crops. More information is available at www.vivent.ch 

About B Lab Switzerland

B Lab Switzerland is the Swiss branch of the global non-profit B Lab. B Lab is transforming the global economy to benefit all people, communities and the planet. As a leader in economic systems change, its global network creates standards, policies and tools for business. In addition, it certifies companies – known as B Corps – that are leading the way. To date, the community includes over 4,500 B Corps in 77 countries and 153 industries, over 8,000 benefit corporations, and 150,000 companies managing their impact with B Impact Assessment and SDG Action Manager.

For further information contact: team@agri-epicentre.com

 

Agri-EPI Centre supports online portal to boost UK agri-tech exports

Mike Freer MP, Minister for Exports formally launched a new portal to help the UK Agri-Tech industry export to new markets.  

The portal has been developed by the Department for International Trade and three UK Agri-Tech trade associations – UK Technology for Agriculture and Genetics (UK TAG), the Commercial Horticultural Association and the Agricultural Engineers Association. The Agri-Tech Centres sit on the portal the steering group alongside its founding organisations and Local Enterprise Partners in the Midlands Engine, Northern Powerhouse and South West. 

Business Development Director, Lisa Williams said: “Agri-EPI Centre, funded by Innovate UK, is pleased to support the launch of the international portal alongside our sister centre’s. The portal will provide a platform and an access point for overseas contacts that wish to understand and connect with world leading agri-tech companies based within the UK, whilst connecting with all partners on agri-tech matters – a growing market to support the sustainable agri-food sector.” 

By signing up to the platform, users will gain exclusive access to several ‘Meet the Buyer’ events each year, as well as the ability to communicate directly with international buyers through an internal messaging system.  The functionality of the directory allows users to search by sector, product and region. It also provides access to the UK Capability Brochures on agricultural engineering, companion pets, horticulture and livestock genetics published with our Trade Challenge Partners. 

Chris Jackson, Export Manager for UK TAG. Said:Post-Brexit, Britain has a unique opportunity to strengthen its position as a global hub of agricultural science and innovation, developing and exporting technological solutions to improve food production around the world, and attracting inward investment to support jobs and economic activity at home.”  

It is vital that we tell the world what we’re good at, and this new website will help us to get the message out there that the UK produces some of the best agricultural technology and help companies take advantage of future trade deals.” 

The Minister for Exports launched the portal at the meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Science & Technology in Agriculture today (10.01.22), where he spoke of the need for the UK to shout more loudly about the UK’s leading agri-tech expertise and capabilities in order to boost exports. 

 

Land And Grow: Agri-Tech Opportunities in China

Agri-EPI Centre’s Land & Grow series of webinars are designed to introduce agri-tech innovators in the UK to the wealth of opportunities available to them in China, helping them to understand the Chinese agriculture sector and connect with Chinese farmers. But what makes China such an exciting destination for agri-tech?

As one of the largest economies in the world, China offers companies in the software, hardware, robotics, biotech and IoT sectors a chance to explore a huge market with even bigger demand for agri-tech; both investors and the Chinese government are actively seeking expertise from abroad to provide smart solutions that are able to upgrade China’s agri-food supply chain.

China faces a number of food security challenges, starting with its population of 134 million people, all of whom need to be sustainably fed. From precision farming to reduce waste and enhance food safety to connected livestock management, agri-tech solutions that provide ways to feed China’s growing population are in high demand.

What makes China’s agrifood sector unique?

The Chinese governments recently outlined a policy seeking to bridge the divide between the urban and rural populations by 2025, aiming to unite disparate digital technology and lift many rural Chinese residents out of poverty. As well as significant investment in infrastructure, Chinese authorities have set their sights on boosting agricultural production – and tech is at the heart of that objective.

Unlike much of the West, China doesn’t have to struggle with legacy technology systems and upgrading existing digital infrastructure, enabling them to implement new tech such as 5G much faster than many European countries and the US.

This enables China to rapidly implement ambitious agrifood projects, with just some of the initiatives listed in the “Digital Agriculture and Rural Area Development Plan 2019-2025” including agricultural robots to increase the productivity and efficiency of fishing, AI to monitor crop yields and improve livestock care and quality and incorporating drones and satellites to better leverage data and decision making across the entire supply chain.

Unlocking agri-tech opportunities in China

Building on our experience working on agri-tech solutions in China, and in collaboration with 8 Hours Ahead, specialists in business development in China, Agri-EPI Centre is hosting a webinar on June 23rd inviting agri-tech innovators to learn more about the incredible opportunities China can offer engineers, scientists and manufacturers.

The webinar offers an in-depth exploration of the Chinese agtech market, from identifying key challenges facing Chinese farmers to financial and commercial support available from the UK and Chinese governments to facilitate international agri-tech solutions.

You can find out more about the webinar, and sign up to attend, on our dedicated events page.