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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.

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.

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Ground-breaking SmartFarm concept takes shape in Beijing

he exciting collaboration between the UK and China around agri-tech innovation has taken a step forward following a visit to Beijing by an Innovate UK delegation – including Agri-EPI Centre representatives – to progress the ground-breaking SmartFarm concept.

The aim of SmartFarm is to develop a holistic approach to the food supply chain for a more efficient and sustainable approach to farming and food production. Beginning with the Agri-EPI-led pilot ‘SmartFarm 1.0’ in China, the plan is to create a transferable model for utilising a range of technology to gather data on inputs and outputs, in order to measure and reduce variation and increase productivity at all levels of the supply chain.

Ian Cox, Innovate UK’s Agri-Tech Centres Innovation Lead, said:

This concept is easy to talk about but difficult to deliver. We hope to take a radically different approach to the way normal projects work in that we are trying to identify the causes of a problem as opposed to treating the symptoms of it. This approach will give us a better understanding of the efficiency of the entire agri-food system.

UK-China SmartFarm DelegationAgri-EPI Centre will work closely with a variety of Chinese partners to progress ‘SmartFarm 1.0’. The key partner organisations are NERCITA, the National Engineering Research Centre for Information Technology in Agriculture, who will host the main elements of the Smart Farm 1.0. The other key partner is Chinese Ministry of Science and Technologies China Rural Technology Development Centre (CRTDC) who will oversee the Chinese delivery partners. The initial focus will be technology associated with arable crops to create a better understanding of productivity from the land resource.

During this visit to Beijing, the SmartFarm Construction Plan was signed by Innovate UK and CRTDC. This plan will enable CRTDC to proceed with the SmartFarm programme on the ground in China. Ian Cox along with Agri-EPI Chairman Willie Thomson and Chief Executive Dave Ross also took part in a number of meetings and workshops with senior Chinese politicians, government officials and scientists.

Dave Ross said:

We are delighted to participate in this brand-new venture, which should develop data combined with a holistic approach, to understand current levels of productivity and provide the insight to deliver improvements.

China is serious in its intent to modernise its agriculture over the next few years and improve the efficiency, productivity and environmental standards. Its 13th 5-year plan on Science and Innovation, adopted in 2016, has agri-tech at the heart of the programme, with a huge £1.5 billion of government investment in this area between 2016 and 2021.

Following on from this, Innovate UK and the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technologies China Rural Technology Development Centre (CRTDC) signed a Memorandum of Understanding in 2016, in which both parties agreed to explore mutual collaboration covering the following areas:

  • big data in agriculture
  • precision agriculture
  • intelligent agricultural equipment
  • prevention and control of crop and animal diseases
  • agricultural biotechnology to explore improvements in crop health and protection
  • nutrition and health developing high quality nutritious foods which meet the needs of future consumers

SmartFarm is a key component of the Agri-Tech Flagship challenge, one of the major deliverables under the UK-China Science Technology and Innovation Strategy signed last December in London.


SmartFarm partners

Department for International Trade
Logo Innovate UK
University of Strathclyde

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UK delegation scopes next generation sustainable farming in USA

What does the farm of the future look like? Increasing automation and big data promise to revolutionise every industry, including the agricultural countryside with a tech sector that will be worth more than £136 billion globally by 2025. The UK Government recognized this early on and launched an Agri-Tech strategy in 2013 to lead on innovation breakthroughs in the face of a transforming global agricultural sector. The strategy established four novel Centres for Agricultural Innovation, including the Agri-EPI Centre to accelerate precision methods across all major agricultural sectors.

To share best practices and promote the UK as a leader in precision agriculture innovation, the Science and Innovation Network (SIN) organised a delegation from the Agri-EPI Centre to visit the US. The delegation was comprised of Agri-EPI Centre leadership and included the CEO of Agri-EPI and several Directors from academia (Cranfield University and Harper Adams University) and from companies (AgSpace and Precision Decisions). As the US has a growing demand for precision methods because agriculture is a significant contributor to many state economies, the aim of the scoping mission was to learn and explore partnerships with the full gambit of stakeholders driving next generation sustainable farming.

In the Washington, D.C. area, the delegates learned about cutting-edge government research at USDA ARS in Beltsville, MD. They chatted with researchers working on the latest technology in hydrology and remote sensing, postharvest technology, microbial food safety, and animal genomics. In Washington DC, the group met with representatives from ARPA-E (DOE), Foundation for Food and Agriculture (FFAR), and USAID to discuss leveraging global partnerships to bring transformative technologies to farms around the globe.

At UC Davis, they met with top faculty to discuss emerging technologies in precision agriculture targeting the high value crops of California agriculture. In addition, experts working in agricultural engineering from Washington State University, University of Arizona and Texas A&M joined the discussion as well as faculty from UC Santa Barbara reflecting an added breadth of regional agriculture and demonstrations/collaborations with agricultural extension centres or growers.

SIN also hosted the delegates, experts from Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory (LBL) and UC Merced and the universities mentioned above at the British Consulate in San Francisco to discuss their leading edge research on precision agriculture solutions. The roundtable led to a robust discussion, reflecting the diverse groundbreaking projects of the group – from the LBL AR1K Smart Farm project in Arkansas to the Harper Adams’ Hands Free Hectare project. Immediate connections were made between Agri-EPI Centre member and world-class institutions Harper Adams and Cranfield Universities with the US research institutions present.

In Silicon Valley the delegates met with Fall Line Capital, an agricultural investment firm to discuss the hottest food and agriculture technology trends. At Planet Labs, a US satellite company already working with UK’s AgSpace to deliver agronomy tools to UK farmers, the group brainstormed on how to further leverage satellite data for academic and business endeavours. Directors from Cranfield University and AgSpace highlighted their use of satellite data to create a UK-wide precision soil map. In true Silicon Valley fashion, the meeting wrapped up with warm chocolate chip cookies!

On the last day, the delegation met with the innovation ecosystem stakeholders working closely with growers in Salinas, an agricultural region in CA, also known as the ‘salad bowl,’ where high value crops like strawberries and leafy greens are grown. Meetings with leadership at Thrive AgTech and Western Growers Center for Innovation and Technology, an accelerator and incubator, respectively, showed how the Agtech pipeline in Silicon Valley has an increasing global footprint innovation by bringing together corporations, universities, growers, and startups. At the centre, they spoke also with Taylor Farms, the world’s largest processor of fresh-cut vegetables, to discuss opportunities and challenges in adoption of precision agriculture technology.

With support from Innovate UK, UK Research and Innovation, and the Department for International Trade, the delegation had a week of great meetings to explore bringing new technologies to the UK and US countryside.


Science and Innovation Network USA
Carmen Schicklberger
Head of Science and Innovation – San Francisco
Guest blogger for Science and Innovation Network USA
Part of UK in USA

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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.

Presentation of Canning Paper on AgTech in Latin America

On Wednesday 16th May, Canning House held an event to present the latest Canning Paper, on AgTech in Latin America. Dave Ross, CEO of Agri-EPI Centre, one of the UK’s four agri-tech centres, introduced the panel in his capacity as chair of the event: Andrew Thompson, representing LatinNews and author of the report, and Horacio Sánchez-Caballero, General Coordinator at GPS, a network of agribusiness experts from Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. Cristina Cortes, Canning House CEO, welcomed attendees and the panel.

The speakers’ presentations covered the contents of the paper and beyond, with emphasis on the opportunities that the agricultural sector holds for the Latin American region, and how uses of new technology can contribute to increased efficiency.

AgTech in Latin America

There has been a rapid growth of AgTech companies in Latin America, but there is a need for a supportive environment to help these start-ups grow. As in FinTech, there is an interesting phenomenon in that well-established forces in the industry (such as Monsanto) are establishing new partnerships with smaller AgTech companies that have developed new ways of doing things. While AgTech holds the potential of contributing to the production of more value-added exports, the challenges posed most notably by climate change are not to be disregarded.

This article has been published previously by Canning House

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Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting

Agri-EPI were privileged to be invited to the recent Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) where leaders gathered in London to address the shared global challenges we face and agree actions on how to create a better future for all.

Pictured here is Agri-EPI CEO Dave Ross with leading academics and scientists including Dame Mary Archer, Lord Kakkar, Nobel Prize winner Venki Ramakrishnan, Professor Alan Jenkins (CEH) and Mike Kapur OBE (Chairman of National Space Centre). The event ‘Towards a Common Future’ was held in London between 16-20 April.

Commonwealth Heads of Government

The Commonwealth is a voluntary association of 54 independent and equal countries. Leaders of the Commonwealth countries meet every 2 years at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM). More information about the event can be found here

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Precision agriculture technology opportunities in New Zealand

Innovate UK awarded Agri-EPI Centre funding to explore precision farming technology opportunities in New Zealand. Although in terms of economic performance New Zealand dairy and beef sectors are world leading, uptake of precision farming technology has been limited, especially in comparison with European countries such as France and The Netherlands.

New Zealand partner

Earlier this year, the Agri-EPI Centre team has met up with local partner Massey University. Researchers at Massey University are leading a large project to understand the variation in productivity, efficiency and environment impact across New Zealand Dairy and Beef Farms. Through Innovate UK funding Agri-EPI Centre is supporting this research by installing automated measurement technologies developed in the UK. This will involve the installation of 3D camera technology to remotely monitor the growth and carcass quality of beef animals, alongside collar-mounted sensors to monitor the activity, eating and rumination behaviours of both beef and dairy animals. The data collected from this project will give UK companies a chance to develop their products for a new market.

For more information about precision agriculture opportunities in New Zealand, please contact Agri-EPI Centre Technical Team via

Photo gallery

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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.