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Science and Academia

Discover our science and academia partnerships; our research and development projects and latest news in agri-tech. At Agri-EPI we explore and deliver precision farming engineering, technology and innovation in UK agriculture across soil, crops and livestock. Collaborating with teams here in the UK and around the world, our focus is improving the way we farm, manage our land, livestock and farmed fish. With hubs at several leading UK colleges and universities. Find out more about our current partnerships and projects.

Agri-EPI at New Scientist Live

Together with Farmers Weekly, Agri-EPI Centre joined Agrimetrics, CIEL, CHAP and its partners GEA Group and RHIZA for the New Scientist Live festival in London today (10 October). The event, which is in its fourth year, has been recognised as Europe’s top science festival, and is expected to welcome a crowd of over 40,000 visitors in its four day run, 10 – 13 October.

Visitors to stall 611 at the Ag Pavilion, where the four Centres and partners are based, have the opportunity to witness first-hand the positive impact that technology has on the farming industry, and on the planet as a whole, as Tom Westerman, RHIZA Digital Manager, explains:

“Agriculture is a forward thinking technical industry and has got a huge role to play in the future of our planet, ensuring food security and sustainability.”

Demonstrations at New Scientist Live

During New Scientist Live, RHIZA is helping farmers tackle this face on with its Contour desktop and mobile app, which helps farmers identify their areas of better or worse crop and is on display at today’s festival, as are GEA Group, who have brought along their DairyRobot R9500.

The robot has been designed to automatically take care of premium quality milk and free up resources to make the farmer’s daily planning and routine more flexible and effective.

David Simmons, Head of Milking & Dairy Farming Sales at GEA Group, said of the event:

“We couldn’t agree more that technology is transforming the world of farming. It’s our absolute pleasure to show students and youngsters how fast-paced and high-tech the farming industry really is.”

Considering a career in agri-tech? Visit New Scientist Live!

It’s been anticipated that by 2025, the agricultural technology sector will be worth more than £136 billion globally. The UK Government is keen to contribute to this number, and in recent years, has invested in four agri-tech centres to lead in its efforts. The four Centres, Agri-EPI Centre, Agrimetrics, CHAP and CIEL, work collaboratively to harness leading UK research and expertise as well as build new infrastructure and innovation.

The Centres also work with leading partners to drive growth and offer support for innovative ideas and projects that help farmers and business owners become more profitable and sustainable. Naomi Smitten, Projects Co-ordinator for Agri-EPI explains:

“The projects are made up of experts from all industries focused on, but not limited to, Agriculture. Most of the companies that are involved in our projects are already operating organisations and/or universities. They don’t necessarily have the time or skill set to align a project.”

To date, the Centres have worked on a number of game-changing projects, such as Hands Free Farm with Harper Adams University and Precision Soil Mapping with partners Cranfield University, AgSpace, Innovate UK and The James Hutton Institute.

Event photo impression:

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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.

‘Affordable’ precision soil map takes off following UK agri-tech partnership

A collaborative project to help farmers and landowners make a more affordable entry into precision farming has resulted in the commercial success of a high-tech soil mapping service.

Precision agriculture company RHIZA is now offering an affordable precision soil mapping service utilising satellite data which was developed as a result of their Innovate UK-funded research project involving AgSpace, Agri-EPI Centre, Cranfield University and James Hutton Institute (JHI).

The two-year project joined high resolution satellite data together with the UK’s most comprehensive soil datasets from Cranfield and JHI to produce a new ‘precision soil map’, an economically viable alternative to the traditional, labour intensive method of field soil surveys.

Since the project concluded in August 2018, RHIZA has developed a commercially available product which it says can cost farmers up to 50% less than traditional soil mapping.

Max Dafforn, RHIZA Business Manager, said:

“The precision soil mapping service has really taken off: it is now providing data on around 800,000 ha of farmland across the UK, helping growers to increase yields with lower input costs and reduced environmental impact.”

Dave Ross, Chief Executive of Agri-EPI Centre said:

“Our aim in collaborating with academic and commercial partners is ultimately to see greater uptake of precision agriculture technologies which deliver benefits for productivity in farming and food production. The results of the project tick all the boxes in this regard and we’re proud to have been involved the development of the precision soil map as a commercially viable product.”

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.

Demonstration of positive effects of Precision Soil Mapping

Agri-EPI Centre hosted a Precision Soil Mapping Showcase Event to demonstrate how Precision Soil Mapping can take precision farming to the next level. The project, in conjunction with AgSpace, IPF, Cranfield University and James Hutton Institute, is near completion. This event presented the commercial benefits of the projects. Specifically, how it can lower the entry cost to precision farming making it more viable for a wider community.

The challenge

The benefits of precision farming, dividing land into management zones according to soil characteristics, has been proven to yield better results when compared to conventional farming. The perceived high entry cost into precision farming has long been a barrier to entry for some smaller arable farmers.

Agri-EPI Centre held a number of workshops over the country in conjunction with LEAF and Innovative Farmers to gain feedback on the development of the precision soil map and identify areas of future development in the wider precision farming industry. These events were held at Agri-EPI Satellite Farms across the country each with a specific focus such as conventional arable, mixed farming and organic farming.

Read more information about the Soil Mapping project here.

If you would like to know more about the outcomes of the project or this event, please contact us via enquiries@agri-epicentre.com.

Collaboration partners

Precision Soil Mapping Showcase event August 2018 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.

PepsiCo chief opens Plant Phenotyping and Soil Health Facility

Agri-EPI Centre are pleased to be leading participant in supporting Indra Nooyi, Chairman and Chief Executive of PepsiCo, one of the world’s largest food and beverage companies in officially opening the Plant Phenotyping and Soil Health Facility at Cranfield University. The facility is a key component of UK’s Agri-Tech Strategy and has been set up to enable industry, famers, agronomists and agrichemical companies to understand soil management issues and to observe changes in crop health over space and time.

Agri-EPI Centre and CHAP are full partners of the Plant Phenotyping and Soil Health Facility and work together to bring the solutions to the industry. This facility provides unique primary-harvest to post-harvest technology at Cranfield University and is funded by Innovate UK through both Agri-EPI Centre and CHAP. To discuss a research collaboration or a commercial project using the Plant Phenotyping and Soil Health Facility, please contact Agri-EPI Centre via enquiries@agri-epicentre.com.

On the day the AgriTech facility was officially opened, Indra Nooyi – who is considered one of today’s world-leading businesswoman – also received an honorary degree from Cranfield University.

Previously, Mrs Nooyi served as PepsiCo’s President and Chief Financial Officer. Since joining the company in 1994, she has directed the company’s global strategy and led its transformation, including the acquisition of Tropicana and the merger with Quaker Oats that brought the Quaker and Gatorade businesses to PepsiCo; the merger with PepsiCo’s anchor bottlers; and the acquisition of Wimm-Bill-Dann, the largest international acquisition in PepsiCo’s history. PepsiCo’s main businesses include Quaker, Tropicana, Gatorade, Walkers and Pepsi-Cola, with more than $63 billion in annual net revenue.

To discuss a research collaboration or a commercial project using the Plant Phenotyping and Soil Health Facility, contact us.

Minister’s key role for Cranfield in ensuring quality of UK soils

George Eustice MP, Minister of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, will today announce on a visit to Cranfield University, that DEFRA has confirmed its continued and long-term support for the National Reference Centre for Soils and associated information system, LandIS, hosted by the University.

The soil collections and associated data, contained within LandIS. will underpin and support the UK Government’s goals announced in its ’25-Year Environment Plan’, providing the basis for achieving sustainable soil management by 2030.

Previous research released by Cranfield University has revealed that soil degradation costs the economy in England and Wales an estimated £1.2billion per year. The National Reference Centre for Soils, at Cranfield, will be invaluable to establishing the metrics to assess progress towards the 25-year goals.

LandIS is a substantial environmental information system, operated by Cranfield University. It includes soil and soil-related information for England and Wales, spatial mapping of soils at a variety of scales, as well as corresponding soil property and agro-climatological data. LandIS is the largest soil information system of its kind in Europe, and together with the World Soil Archive (WOSSAC), covers 329 territories worldwide, establishing Cranfield as one of the largest soil reference centres globally.

Data from LandIS was recently used by the Welsh Government to develop its Predictive Agricultural Land Classification (ALC) Map, which enables land users, planners and policy makers to make informed choices about how agricultural land is used in Wales.

Nurturing our nation’s soils

Farming Minister George Eustice said: “Protecting and nurturing our nation’s soils is a cornerstone of our future farming policy. As we work towards delivering our ambitious 25 Year Environment Plan, I look forward to continuing our essential work with Cranfield University.”

Professor Ronald Corstanje, Head of Cranfield University’s Centre for Environmental and Agricultural Informatics, said: “For 40 years, information from LandIS has supported planners, Government and land users to make decisions about how land is used. With an increased focus from Government on the importance of soil health to the UK economy, LandIS will play a vital role in securing the future of the nation’s soil.”

Professor Leon A. Terry, Cranfield University’s Director of Environment and Agrifood, said: “This is fantastic news for Cranfield and the nation’s soil. With our recent Queen’s Anniversary Prize for soil science, and our role in two of the UK’s Government-backed Agritech Centres, Agri-EPI Centre and CHAP, Cranfield is cementing its reputation as the leading soil science university in Europe.”

On his visit to Cranfield, the Minister will also ‘break ground’ on the construction of a new £3.2 million agri-informatics facility which will address a wide range of research challenges in the environmental and agricultural sectors. The facility will be shared with Agri-EPI Centre who will focus on agri-tech research and innovation. It is funded with investment from Innovate UK, Agri-EPI Centre, the Wolfson Foundation and the University itself and will become the home of National Soil Archive.

Source: Cranfield University

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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.

Construction begins on new agri-informatics facility at Cranfield

A ‘ground-breaking’ ceremony has today commemorated the start of construction on a new £3.2 million agri-informatics facility at Cranfield University. The new facility will provide the UK with a centre of excellence in data science related to precision agriculture.

Cranfield University and its partners will use the facility to increase data quantity and quality, while using innovative informatics to support novel business, management and policy approaches in the agricultural sector. It will be shared with Agri-EPI Centre who will focus on agri-tech research and innovation. The new facility will be the home of the National Reference Centre for Soils and associated Land information system, LandIS.

Agri-Informatics funding

Funding for the facility has come from Innovate UK, Agri-EPI Centre, the Wolfson Foundation and the University itself, with construction being completed in 2019.

The ‘ground-breaking’ ceremony was led by George Eustice MP, Minister of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food; representatives of Innovate UK and Agri-EPI Centre; and Professor Sir Peter Gregson, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of Cranfield University.

Farming Minister George Eustice, said: “Protecting and nurturing our nation’s soils is a cornerstone of our future farming policy. This new agri-informatics facility will help us develop the science, research and innovation that we need in this area, combined with the lessons that have been passed down through generations.

“As we work towards delivering our ambitious 25 Year Environment Plan, I look forward to continuing our essential work with Cranfield University.”

Professor Sir Peter Gregson, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of Cranfield University, said:

“Cranfield has a proud tradition of making world-leading contributions to the environment and agricultural sectors, recognised earlier this year by the award of our fifth Queen’s Anniversary Prize. This new facility will play a key role in addressing future research challenges and will be an invaluable resource in achieving the goals set out in the Government’s 25-year Environment Plan.”

Ian Cox, Innovation Lead of the Agri-Tech Centres:

“Innovate UK is proud to be a significant funder through the Agri-EPI Centre of this joint facility which is focusing on innovation in agri-tech. This new facility will once completed help address some of the major challenges facing agriculture globally. Soil Health is becoming internationally recognised a key contributor to improving crop productivity and quality so I am especially pleased that the National Reference Centre for Soils will be housed in this new facility.”

David Ross, CEO of Agri-EPI Centre Ltd. said:

“Agri-EPI Centre is the UK lead Centre for Agricultural Innovation across precision and engineering technologies. We are delighted to both contribute, and be actively involved in this new facility. With our partners, this platform will allow us to meet the national and international productivity and sustainability challenges in the agri-food sector.”

 

Photo gallery

Partners

Source: Cranfield University

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.