Satellite Imagery - Agri-EPI Centre - Engineering Precision Innovation

Satellite Imagery

Forming a new and exciting element of land and animal management and husbandry. The use and development of satellite imagery to support farming is part of our focus as we explore and deliver precision farming engineering, technology and innovation in UK agriculture across soil, crops and livestock. Discover who we are working with, our projects and case studies about the use of satellite imagery to help investors, growers and livestock farmers in world-wide agriculture, horticulture and aquaculture.

Space technology: Calling all ‘astropreneurs’!

Agri-EPI Centre and its fellow UK Agri-Tech Centre Agrimetrics are taking part in a webinar on Tuesday 19th May for start-ups and SMEs interested in the role space technology can play in sustainable agriculture.

The Centres are teaming up with the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) and the European Horizon 2020 Astropreneurs Space Startup Accelerator, which seeks to turn space-related ideas into viable businesses. Due to finish at the end of December 2020, the programme provides successful applicants with business, commercial and technical mentoring and training.

Agri-EPI Project Manager, Freddie Reed, will talk about how satellite imagery is current being utilised within the organisation’s network of 28 innovative farms. Agri-EPI works with this network to develop, evaluate and share information about new technologies and techniques.

Agrimetrics’ Chief Product Officer, Matthew Smith, will discuss the commercialisation of space data through the data marketplace.

Nick Trigg is Innovation Manager at the Science and Technology Facilities Council and UK manager for the Astropreneurs programme.  He will give a rundown on the space data that is available, and how it can be accessed.

Nick said:

“The space sector has a huge amount of technology that is useful for other sectors and this webinar will show how far sighted and technology driven the agriculture sector really is.  Both Agri-EPI and Agrimetrics are at the forefront of agriculture’s drive into these new technologies and it is great to have a them talking at this webinar.”

The webinar takes place at 10am (BST) on Tuesday May 19. Sign up here.

World-class agri-tech in Africa

Establishing trust between farmers and investors

GRID tool

An innovative digital farming system is helping to increase yields across thousands of hectares of farmland in southern Africa while also creating new jobs locally and in the UK.

AgSpace Agriculture’s new GRID system gives farmers access to the most advanced agricultural satellite mapping and analysis available, backed by independent agronomic advice. The information helps producers to make better management decisions and allows them to offer evidence of their crops’ performance to financial providers to gain access to credit and insurance.

Partners GRID

GRID was developed under a two-year European Space Agency-backed project involving AgSpace, Agri-EPI Centre and RHIZA. It is the first tool on the market specifically allowing farmers and financial providers to track crop performance.

Agri-Tech in Africa

There has been rapid uptake of the product following its launch earlier this year. It is now operational in nine African countries, and involves financial providers including Standard Bank. Further expansion is predicted to create up to 775 jobs between the UK and Africa by 2024.

AgSpace Director, Vince Gillingham, said:

“Some 80% of the African workforce makes a living from agriculture but many are crippled by a lack of access to financial products to develop their businesses. Price fluctuations for inputs and products, along with crop failure, due to pests, diseases, temperature or variable rainfall, hold the entire agricultural ecosystem back. 

“It is very difficult for credit providers to measure risk in the face of such variables without good data from farmers. GRID offers a precision data-driven opportunity for overcoming this barrier, giving providers the evidence and confidence they need to support farmers in increasing yields, growing their farms and ultimately contributing to wider economic development.”

GRID uses high resolution satellite data to monitor crop performance while providing local weather data for every farm on an hourly basis. It provides soil mapping and soil health monitoring, supports fertiliser planning for increased efficiency and higher yields and calculates yield predictions.

Farmers access agronomy advice by smart phone to improve production while financial providers use the same satellite data to monitor crop performance and build a clear picture of each farm, whatever its size and however remote.

Dave Ross, Agri-EPI Centre CEO said:

“We are delighted to have contributed to the emerging success of the GRID product. By using our company assets, including our database of high-resolution earth observation data, combined with analytics, this has enabled the optimal refinement of the system, which has now moved rapidly to a commercial offering. We are particularly pleased that Agri-EPI has assisted in the near-future prospect of up to 1000 jobs shared between the UK and Africa. This makes a valuable contribution from Agri-EPI input and continues to show evidence of world-class agri-tech solutions from the UK being exported around the globe.”

Francesco Feliciani, Head of the Commercial Applications Section of ESA, added:

“We are proud for having hosted the development and validation of the GRID service as part of our Integrated Applications Programme. We are convinced that GRID is a game changer in supporting farmers and associated financial services to understand the performance of farming businesses virtually everywhere in the world. This is key especially in times challenged by extreme weather events.

We have directly witnessed how the GRID service is used by farming companies in Africa, and we are fascinated by its capability to turn complex datasets and analytics into easy to understand information through a very intuitive and appealing user interface.”

More information

For further information about GRID, please download the GRID information brochure or contact Vincent Gillingham, AgSpace Director.

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 agri-tech news and Agri-EPI blogs.

Workshop Emerging imaging technologies in Agri-Food

Imaging technologies are developing rapidly and their increased use in agri-food could help increase agricultural productivity, reduce food waste and improve food quality. A recent workshop organised by Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) brought together the Agri-Food and Imaging communities to explore opportunities for innovation using emerging imaging technologies across the agri-food sector.

Agri-EPI Centre CEO Dave Ross set the scene for the day, showing the amount of food that will have to be produced in the coming years to feed a growing world. The power of imaging technologies in agri-food is one of the key ways yields can be increased. The future of farming was hinted at with a video showing the ‘Hands Free Hectare’ at Harper Adams University.

Event synopsis

You might be interested in the blog that was written of the event by KTN, written by Charlie Winkworth-Smith, Knowledge Transfer Manager – Emerging Technologies, KTN. Posted on 5 February 2018:

‘Emerging imaging technologies in agri-food’

Increased use of imaging technologies in agri-food could help increase agricultural productivity, reduce food waste and improve food quality.

Imaging technologies are developing rapidly and their increased use in agri-food could help increase agricultural productivity, reduce food waste and improve food quality. The event highlighted how emerging imaging technologies are vital for continued innovation in the agri-food industry. Professor Simon Pearson from the University of Lincoln, who chaired the workshop, commented that imaging technology is the backbone of precision agriculture as DNA is to bioscience.

Dave Ross from the Agri-EPI Centre set the scene for the day, showing the amount of food that will have to be produced in the coming years to feed a growing world. The power of imaging technologies in agri-food is one of the key ways yields can be increased. The future of farming was hinted at with a video showing the Hands Free Hectare at Harper Adams University.

Dr Martin Whitworth from Campden BRI showed how imaging technologies are being implemented in the food industry, with ovens being placed inside medical X-Ray CT scanners to monitor the structure of cakes during baking, hyperspectral imaging used to map the composition of food and thermal imaging being used to validate cooking instructions.

Dr Dorian Parker from M Squared Lasers showed how imaging technologies originally developed for the defence sector are now being adapted to detect the whisky escaping from casks. Optical fingerprinting is now able to differentiate whiskies by brand, age or even type of cask used. The first use cases of single pixel quantum imaging were also discussed, from methane imaging to seeing through tinted glass.

Opportunities for the space sector in precision agriculture were highlighted by Mark Jarman from the Satellite Applications Catapult. Hyperspectral imaging, thermal imaging and synthetic aperture radar are all technologies that are now being utilised to give farmers more information about their crops to help increase yields.

The use of imaging in the ruminant sector was explored by Dr Carol-Anne Duthie from SRUC. Time of flight 3D cameras can be mounted on water troughs which automatically capture images of animals to monitor the health of the animal. Thermal imaging can be used to identify inflammation, bruises or tendon injuries days before they will be visible to the farmer. After slaughter, visible and near infra-red spectroscopy is a non-invasive technique that can help predict cooking loss, composition, mechanical tenderness and sensory traits.

Dr Wenhao Zhang from the Centre for Machine Vision at the Bristol Robotics Lab showed that facial recognition of pigs is now possible. He also showed that 3D imaging can be a valuable tool for plant phenotyping as it will help indicate plant health and reveal gene induced traits. Imaging technologies are beginning to be used for weed detection in fields which could potentially reduce herbicide use by in excess of 90%.

Dr Simon Plant from Innovate UK and Dr Katherine Lutteroth from BBSRC updated the audience on all the funding opportunities available, in particular, the Emerging & Enabling and Health & Life Sciences competitions that are currently open, as well as the LINK scheme and Industry Partnership Awards. Dr Russ Bromley also highlighted the extra funding for Knowledge Transfer Partnerships that is currently available.

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.