News

Discover all the latest news from the farming, innovation and technology with us.

Agri-EPI news explores new precision engineering, technology and innovation in UK agriculture across crops, land management and livestock for improved welfare and increased productivity. We have a broad memberships from the farming, manufacturing and retail sectors, as well as collaborating on projects around the world.

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 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.

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

A Dark Horse on the crop sensing scene?

An Agri-EPI-supported trial of a new crop monitoring service has delivered promising results for Niall Jeffrey of Bielgrange Farm in East Lothian, Scotland.

Bielgrange comprises 350Ha of lowland arable land and 240Ha of hill with a beef herd running between both. As part of Agri-EPI’s Satellite Farm programme, Niall is helping develop and evaluate Dark Horse Technologies’ service, which uses satellite and drones to monitor crops, diagnose growth problems and predict yield.

Dark Horse’s prediction of yield from Niall’s field of second winter wheat was accurate to within less than 0.5% – and they did it without setting foot on his farm.

Niall said:

“We chose a difficult field for the trial where the crop was poorly established. The open canopy enabled weeds to establish which we could not treat without damaging the crop. Dark Horse remotely programmed a drone mission. All I had to do was go to the field and press start then, when it finished the mission, upload the memory card online to Dark Horse. We initially predicted a yield of around 8 tonnes and revised this throughout the growing season as Dark Horse showed us how things were progressing.

Dark Horse’s ultimate prediction – made three weeks before harvest– was 6.4 T/ha and the actual result was 6.43 T/ha. Going forward, the prediction could help me with the management of harvest storage and forward selling. We were impressed with the accuracy of the results. I’m intrigued to see what else it can do.”

Dark Horse Technologies promotes its service as being different from other forms of crop analysis because it goes beyond pure spectral analysis and incorporates specific spatial and temporal analysis of the crops.

Jared Bainbridge, Founder and Chief Executive of Dark Horse Technologies said:

“What we were able to achieve with Niall is a great example of our service. Feature analysis allows us to monitor the geometric growth trajectory of each plant in the field over time. We can gauge each individual plant’s performance to understand the ideal size and shape of a crop at any point in its life cycle and can benchmark each plant’s performance.

Our service is designed so that it can be delivered with factory issued drones you can buy off-the-shelf. We’re not a drone company but an advanced crop imaging company. We are capable of combining multiple sources of data and imagery such as satellite, drone, mobile, sensor and ground-truth data; into a proprietary model capable of predicting yield and mapping crop-loss events with a high degree of accuracy. We are also able to integrate with existing on-farm machines to ensure sprayers target the areas of the field which need the most help, saving time and money.”

Niall and Dark Horse and now preparing for more trials, including a field scale seed treatment trial and the measurement of grass output from a paddock grazing system for cattle next summer.

Gavin Dick, Agri-EPI’s Head of Farms said:

“This kind of trial is what our satellite farm network is all about: bringing together farmers with the developers of next generation technologies and techniques to develop and evaluate new ways of supporting producers’ efficiency and productivity.”

Research to use artificial intelligence to identify sick livestock

The welfare of livestock could be improved thanks to a new research project that will use novel artificial intelligence methods combined with behavioural analytics to provide rapid and reliable insights to animal health for farmers across the UK. The research and commercial feasibility program, co-funded by Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency, will be led by the Quant Foundry (QF) in collaboration with the University of Bristol Vet School and Agri-EPI Centre.

The team headed by Dr Chris Cormack at QF will run a feasibility study with Professor Andrew Dowsey and animal welfare experts, Dr Siobhan Mullan, Dr Suzanne Held and Professor Michael Mendl at the University of Bristol and Agri-EPI Centre at their South West Dairy Development Centre in Somerset.

The project aims to provide a new cost-effective solution for farmers and vets to identify illness in livestock providing not only cost savings but also a means to reduce the impact of farming on the environment.

Dr Chris Cormack, Managing Director at the Quant Foundry (www.quantfoundry.com), said: “In conjunction with our research partners, Bristol Veterinary School and Agri-EPI, the study of behavioural analytics in animals will open up a new era in artificial intelligence driven solutions for farmers. We have great hopes that not only can we help farmers provide improved care for their livestock but also help reduce their economic costs and their environmental impact.”

Professor Andrew Dowsey, Chair in Population Health Data Science at Bristol Veterinary School and a specialist in data solutions for health and agriculture, added:

“This collaboration is a fantastic opportunity to translate cutting-edge artificial intelligence approaches to build upon the UK’s high standards in cattle welfare and support farmers in our targets for net-zero emissions.”

Duncan Forbes, Agri-EPI centre’s Head of Dairy said:

“Agri-EPI’s South West Dairy Development Centre is dedicated to the development and evaluation of exciting emerging technologies such as this and we’re looking forward to working with Quant Foundry and Bristol Vet School.”

Throughout the project the collaborative team will be actively seeking partners to help them commercialise and build capability as the project matures, this can range from direct investment or from interested companies looking to complement their existing activities in this upcoming area.