Office and Workshop Space - Agri-EPI Centre - Precision Innovation

Office and Workshop Space

Supporting our members, visitors, delegates and guests with dedicated office and workshop space.

Conferences, collaborations, startups and growing agri-businesses and researchers will find a great home with us.

Agri-EPI explores and delivers precision farming engineering, technology and innovation in the UK agriculture across soil, crops and livestock.

Welcoming NoFence to our Midlands Agri-Tech Innovation Hub

NoFence (www.nofence.co.uk), has created the world’s first virtual fencing for livestock: using GPS and cellular communication technology built into special collars to help farmers graze animals on pasture without the need for traditional penning and electric fences. Our vision is to improve animal welfare and make it easier for farmers to rear animals, as well as promote sustainable food production and help people to make better use of pasture resources throughout the world.

The Agri-EPI Centre Midlands Agri-Tech Innovation Hub is designed to unite tech innovators, business thinkers, engineers and all agricultural expertise under one roof. From flexible office space to events and workshops, the hub supports agri-tech innovators to take their solutions from the planning stage to testing on commercial farms and ultimately to market.

Set in the home of British agricultural engineering, Shropshire, on the Harper Adams University campus, the hub is one of four Agri-EPI Centre facilities. We sat down with network member and Innovation Hub resident NoFence to catch up on their game-changing fencing solutions and how the Midlands centre is supporting agri-tech innovation.

The world’s first virtual fencing for livestock

Using GPS and cellular communication technology, Nofence eliminates the need for traditional pens and electric fences for livestock. Smart tech in special collars worn by the animals means they can graze on pastures without physical boundaries, making farming easier for farmers, more sustainable for the planet and kinder to animals.

“The Nofence system facilitates the managed grazing process,” explains the Nofence team. “[It allows] farmers to change the boundaries of the grazing zones throughout the day, in order to optimise the energy uptake in the grass and avoid overgrazing.”

“Grazing animals on open pasture land offers well-documented benefits for both wildlife and the environment. For example, grazing animals will often choose more dominant plant species to eat, allowing less competitive plants to thrive. In addition, grazing animals that lie and roll help increase structural diversity of the land, and trampling helps to create areas of bare ground that produce nurseries for seedlings.”

Inspire, inform, innovate

Nofence is just one of the many agri-tech innovators in residence at our Midlands Agri-Tech Innovation Hub, where the availability of all kinds of agricultural expertise and access to commercial farms for trials and research offer practical benefits to their agri-tech solutions.

“We are always striving to create a product that the farmers find useful,” they say. “It’s not about what we want to make, but about what the customers need.”

Testing technology in a real farming environment allows agri-tech companies to see the practical application of the technology being developed. For Nofence, it’s been hugely exciting to see how their work helps the farmer bring a herd out of the barn and into the pasture.

“Nofence takes the animals back outside, so that the farmer can benefit from all of the land and the ‘free food’ that the animals are made to collect. The grazing ruminant has always been there and is equipped with four legs to find their own food – Nofence allows them to do this, in a much simpler way than before.”

The future of agri-tech

Looking ahead, Nofence plans to use the Midlands Innovation Hub as a centre to continue developing innovative agri-tech solutions and forge links between the UK and their home country of Norway. For Nofence, the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of self-sufficiency: “With our technology, countries like Norway and the UK can utilise all of their land to produce food and rely less on imports,” they explain.

With big plans and even bigger goals, Nofence shows no sign of slowing down and can rely on the Midlands Hub as a springboard for their projects to grow nationwide. “Our goal for the UK is that every farmer should have the option to fence virtually,” they declare. “Physical fencing is so 2018!”

To find out more about our Agri-Tech Innovation Hubs, and see how your business could benefit from the many spaces and opportunities available, contact us today.

Agri-EPI Centre launches Midlands Agri-Tech Innovation Hub

Agri-EPI Centre Midlands Agri-Tech Innovation Hub

A multi-million-pound hub for the development, testing and sharing of technologies to boost productivity in farming and the food supply chain has opened in the Midlands following Innovate UK investment. Agri-EPI Centre has developed the £4.4 million research & development agri-tech facility in close partnership with Harper Adams University.

Located on the University’s campus in Shropshire, the hub will bring together researchers, technology and engineering companies and food businesses, from farmers right through to retailers.

A priority for the new hub is to encourage farmer uptake of innovative technologies to increase the overall benefits to UK agriculture.  Experts will explore how robotics, lasers, sensors and satellite technology may benefit farmers, such as robots which can pick soft fruit or lasers which can target individual weeds in a field without pesticides or damage to the crop.  Such technologies are being researched by Harper Adams and others in conjunction with industry partners, to be tested further through the Agri-EPI Centre network.

The hub was officially opened today by Sam Gyimah MP, Minister for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, who said:

“From picking soft fruits using robots, to treating crops using lasers and avoiding harmful pesticides, the innovations being considered by Agri-EPI Centre will revolutionise farming as we know it and make it more profitable than ever before.

Our agricultural sector is the biggest industrial sector in the UK and our farmers are multi-skilled – they are investor, environmentalists and scientists. We need to make sure these skills keep pace with the growth of new technologies which is why we have invested £90 million through our modern Industrial Strategy to put the UK at the forefront of these innovations and boost productivity.”

Agri-EPI Centre Midlands Agri-Tech Innovation Hub

Agri-EPI Centre Midlands Agri-Tech Innovation Hub

Agri-EPI Centre Chief Executive Dave Ross said:

“The Midlands hub is one of four ground-breaking facilities we will be running across the UK to really push forward new thinking and technologies that can boost the productivity, sustainability and profitability of the agri-food industry.”

Harper Adams Vice-Chancellor, Dr David Llewellyn, said:

“There are considerable opportunities to grow the agri-technology sector through the work of the Agri-EPI Centre and the facilities being formally opened today.  The Government has recognised the importance of this new sector by designating nearby Telford as a High Potential Opportunity area for inward investment in agri-technologies, and our Local Authority and the Marches LEP have identified agri-tech as a strategic priority, based on our activities and those of the Agri-EPI network.”

Ian Cox, Innovate UK Innovation Lead for the Agri-Tech Centres said:

“Ultimately, this is about the successful transfer of new technologies, and the skills for their use, into farming practice to improve productivity, profitability and environmental performance in food production.  Working with the Agri-EPI Centre team we are committed to achieving these objectives.”

In addition, the state-of-the-art Midlands Dairy Research Centre, developed by Agri-EPI in partnership with managed by Harper Adams, will focus on the use of next generation dairy technology to understand dairy cow behaviour and welfare. Its 50-cow robotic milking shed was designed specifically for trial work, complementing Harper Adams’ 380-strong commercial dairy herd. The Centre is sponsored by DeLaval, Easyfix and IceRobotics

 

Partners Midlands Agri-Tech Innovation Hub

Partners Agri-EPI Centre Midlands Agri-Tech Innovation Hub

TAFE first business to take up residence in workshop space Newport

Harper Adams University (HAU) has entered a new international collaboration with India-based Tractors and Farm Equipment (TAFE) to develop advanced technological, agronomic and educational solutions for the delivery of sustainable food production around the world.

TAFE, the world’s third largest tractor manufacturing company in terms of volume, has become the first business to take up residence in the Agri-EPI Centre Midlands Agri-Tech Innovation Hub, on the university campus, to commence a major, collaborative research and development project.

Agri-EPI Centre is one of the four national Centres for Agricultural Innovation created as part of the £17.7m UK government investment from the UK’s Strategy for Agricultural Technologies to help provide engineering and precision agriculture solutions for the agri-food industry.

The collaboration between TAFE, Harper Adams University and Agri-EPI Centre will include joint research projects and programmes, joint publications and staff exchanges.

Research will be focused on agriculture, engineering and technology development programmes on autonomous farming and energy efficient implements, Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) and sensor technologies along with the Hands Free Hectare (HFH) project that will be implemented at JFarm India; TAFE’s adaptive agriculture research centre.

Partnership logo TAFE at Midlands Agri-Tech Innovation Hub

TAFE President & COO, Mr T R Kesavan said:

“TAFE’s collaboration with Agri-EPI Centre and Harper Adams is a reaffirmation of TAFE’s commitment to its vision of ‘Cultivating the World’ as it aims to combine integrated farming techniques with precision agriculture and engineering to develop sustainable farming models that work for both marginal and large farms. This collaboration will provide opportunities for developing a range of advanced training skills, learning and the promotion of international technology transfer and exchange.”

On the team’s arrival, Harper Adams Agricultural Engineering Lecturer Kit Franklin said: “We at Harper Adams have been building contacts with TAFE for the last 18 months. “It’s great to now have this young and enthusiastic team of engineers from TAFE’s Centre of Excellence here in the UK, where we’re about to start on our first collaborative engineering project. “Along with the completion of the project, I hope the team will get a flavour of British agriculture, helping them to return with fresh new ideas.”

Welcoming them to the Agri-EPI Centre, Lee Williams, Midlands Agri-Tech Innovation Hub Manager, said:

“We’re extremely excited about the first major R&D project coming into the centre but even more so as it’s a large international tractor manufacturer that’s working in collaboration with Harper Adams.”

Source: Harper Adams University