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In this episode of the podcast, Thomas Slattery interviews Ewen Wardman, CEO and co-founder of iLivestock, a company that provides software and hardware solutions to simplify and streamline the data capture process for livestock farmers all over the world. Ewan shares the inspiration behind the creation of iLivestock, which came about while he worked for a tag company that installed a large-scale RFID system on a pig farm in China. He noticed that the farmers there were using their smartphones to take pictures of EID tags and jotting down notes beside them. This led him to think of creating an app that could streamline the process.
Ewen emphasizes the importance of spending time on farms and understanding the problems faced by farmers before launching a product. He shares how, in the early days of iLivestock, he and his team would spend up to a week on a farm just to apprentice with the farmers, so they could fully comprehend and address the challenges of their potential users.
The conversation then turns to the various products that iLivestock offers, including hardware such as a bluetooth enabling weigh head that connects with load bars, as well as software that allows farmers to keep track of their livestock’s health and performance. Ewen stresses the importance of data capture for sustainability and environmental compliance, and how his company’s platform can be used to help farmers meet these goals.
In this episode of Seedling Sessions, Thomas Slattery sits down with David Booth, Group Technical Sales Manager at Analox, a company specializing in gas analysis and detection. Booth shares his extensive experience in gas analysis and detection, and specifically how his expertise is being applied in the agri-food sector. From monitoring ruminant gas emissions to working with farmers and researchers to reduce the impact of methane, carbon dioxide, and ammonia, Booth gives listeners a glimpse into the cutting-edge world of farm tech. Slattery and Booth discuss the company’s history, the use of infrared sensors in the field, and how the data on GHG emissions around livestock can help farmers manage their herds more effectively while reducing their environmental impact. Booth also shares his insights on the future of methane reduction in the farming industry and how similar patterns may emerge to those seen in carbon credit schemes. Overall, this episode is a fascinating dive into the intersection of technology and agriculture, and how companies like Analox are helping to shape the future of the industry.
In this episode, representatives from a large consortium, including Agri-EPI, Ritchie, and SRUC, discuss the OptiBeef project, which aims to introduce new technologies to the beef sector to improve efficiency for farmers and abattoirs. The project started in 2019 and is set to wrap up in summer 2023. The OptiBeef project was inspired by the lack of available technology and inefficiency in the beef sector, which often leads to out-of-spec carcasses.
Currently, abattoirs in the UK mainly use a manual grading system, which depends on a trained individual visually grading carcasses for confirmation and fat. However, it is becoming harder to recruit and train individuals for this task. The OptiBeef project aims to automate this process and standardize it across abattoirs.
The project seeks to provide technology on farms to better manage the selection and processing of animals, as farmers often do not have accurate data until the animals have left the farm. OptiBeef aims to improve this by collecting data on the farm, such as daily weight measurements and grading information, to help farmers make more informed decisions on the optimal time to sell animals based on size and classification.
Additional technologies being developed by the consortium include the ability to monitor feed intake to calculate feed conversion efficiencies and better understand the value of inputs versus the value gained by the animals. The goal is to identify the most efficient point to sell the animals, reducing inefficiencies that arise from sending animals to abattoirs either too early or too late.
In this episode, Thomas Slattery speaks with Rich Vecqueray, CEO of Map of Ag, a data business that connects farm data to the agri-food industry. Rich explains how Map of Ag brings together farm data at scale so that the industry can connect with their supplying farms.
Rich talks about his background as a vet and how he became frustrated with the lack of influence he had on improving animal welfare on farms. He then explains how Map of Ag evolved into a platform that brings together farm data at scale, enabling the agri-food industry to connect with their supplying farms and drive meaningful change.
Rich goes on to discuss how Map of Ag’s platform, Pure Farming, collects and integrates data from various sources across many different farmers to provide insights and make better decisions at the agrifood business end. He also shares how the platform is being used to help achieve net-zero emissions and solve other problems in the supply chain.
This episode is a fascinating insight into how data can be used to bring about change and make a positive impact on animal welfare, the environment, and the agri-food industry as a whole.
In this episode, Thomas Slattery takes a closer look at how technological advancements and the changing requirements in the agricultural farming sector are shaping the skill sets and capabilities needed for success. Our guest, Darren Houghton, Head of Agritech at Eden Search is an expert talent specialist for agri-tech and agriculture and works with businesses to find senior leaders and support their efforts in tackling the challenges of food security and sustainability across the agri-food value chain. We explore the emerging trends in the industry, the changing skill sets required for success, and the challenges of finding and developing the right talent. From supporting startups to working with established businesses, we discuss the exciting opportunities and challenges that lie ahead as the industry continues to evolve and adapt. Join us for an engaging conversation on the future of agriculture and the role of technology in driving innovation and growth.
In this episode of Seedling Sessions, Thomas Slattery spoke with John Wisbey, cofounder and CEO, and Peter Curtis, cofounder and CIO of Chordata, an organization founded in 2019 that aims to transform animal health through usable and actionable data intelligence. The company’s founders have a history in the pet sector and saw a lack of information for vets and pet owners to make decisions about animal health. Chordata then expanded to the agri-tech sector, where they saw a need for a technology solution that would be effective in improving the wellbeing of farm animals and be useful to farmers and companies in the supply chain. The company has spent the last three years researching unmet needs and developing software platforms to optimize technology for companion animals and livestock. They discussed the company’s technology solutions, development timeline, and the challenges they have faced in the industry. Additionally, they highlighted the company’s upcoming presence at the Dairy Tech 2023 exhibition where they will be showcasing their technology and available for further discussions.
In this episode of Seedling Sessions, Thomas Slattery spoke with James Brown of Polybell Farms and James Miller of Earth Rover to discuss their collaboration on the CLAWS robot project. The CLAWS robot is a concentrated light autonomous weeding robot being developed by Earth Rover and being tested and trialled in collaboration with Polybell Farms.
James Miller of Earth Rover began by describing the development process of the CLAWS robot, including the challenges faced and the technology used. James Brown of Polybell Farms then shared his thoughts on the potential for the CLAWS robot on his farm, and the benefits it could bring.
The guests then delved into the importance of lightweight autonomous robots in agriculture, particularly in high-value horticulture where labor costs are so high. They discussed how the CLAWS robot could help address the labor shortage faced by many farmers today and how it can be vital for the future of agriculture. The guests also highlighted how these technologies are also imperative for organic and regenerative farmers who can’t rely on chemical and mechanical solutions for weeding.
This week Thomas Slattery spoke with Matthew Elmes and Owen Finnie at Pollenize, using technology and innovation to improve pollinator conservation.
Pollenize CIC was founded by born and bred Plymouthians (and best friends) Matthew Elmes and Owen Finnie in 2018. Pollenize was started as an unassuming initiative to create better access to beekeeping equipment and local honey. Matt and Owen read that local honey was a good way to immunise the symptoms of hay fever, an allergy that both suffer from quite severely! Without being able to find this easily, they took it upon themselves to seek out innovative and accessible ways to keep honey bees in an urban landscape.
Four years on since their humble beginnings, Pollenize has been catapulted on an incredible journey fuelled by a sheer fascination with the bees, moths, butterflies and all pollinators, their crucial role for a healthy planet and most importantly what we can do as humans to protect them. As a result, our social enterprise has gained huge momentum, leading them to become a key player in driving environmental research and social change within their city and beyond.
Agri-EPI Centre’s Thomas Slattery spoke with R&D Director Dr Peter Barratt to get an update, a year on, about the application of their ozone sanitation technology on dairy farms in the UK and around the world.
Oxi-Tech Solutions Limited is an emerging UK technology company commercialising its unique and disruptive technology applications for water disinfection. They are currently developing environmentally responsible disinfection systems to address unacceptable problems facing the Food, Agriculture, Aquaculture, and Horticultural sectors, including health and animal hygiene. They have developed a revolutionary system that removes the use of many aggressive chemicals and the 250L plastic barrels commonly associated with bulk chemical solutions that are harmful to both the environment and workers. Their technology creates the most potent industrial oxidant in use today, Dissolved Ozone, in a very practical, controllable, and efficient way.
This week Thomas Slattery spoke with Daniel Purkiss and Sam Todd at Leyton, the UK’s leading specialist innovation funding consultancy.
Leyton supports a significant proportion of the UK’s agriculture-related R&D claims each year, helping hundreds of businesses in farming and the supply chain through to engineering and technology providers, increase their ability to fund future projects and grow.
Their team of in-house consultants, which includes scientists, engineers and software developers who understand the agri-food sector, have over a decade of experience working with food producers, processors and retailers across the UK. Leyton helps them benefit from valuable schemes, including R&D Tax Credits, Grants and the Patent Box Scheme, which allows qualifying companies to accelerate their innovation strategy through additional funding and/or a reduction in their corporation tax.
In this week’s episode, Agri-EPI’s Thomas Slattery spoke with Johannes Scheibe, the co-founder and CEO of ruumi. ruumi’s app helps farmers plan fertiliser-free grazing rotations that result in more grass, improved soil quality, and healthier animals – without worrying about potentially expensive mistakes. It also helps create records made up of remote sensing and on-the-ground datasets. This unique capability allows ruumi to generate carbon credit certificates of truly exceptional transparency, quality and value – to farmers, companies who want to offset, and the environment generally.
Johannes co-founded ruumi together with Daniel and Paddy, built the first version of the ruumi grazing app, and is now CEO. He grew up among trees and sheep in a tiny village in the middle of the “Woodlands” in Thuringia (Germany). That may explain his height and love for sausages! He enjoys wearing socks with cute duckies on them and improving his dad jokes. He has a background in machine learning, working as a Data Scientist at Maersk and eBay, then as Head of data at Drivr and Karhoo, and finally as an Engineering Manager at Daimler Autonomous. He also co-founded a startup that uses AI for remote physical therapy, which taught him how to fail gracefully.
In this week’s episode, Thomas Slattery spoke with David Blumstein, Business Development Consultant at Fixposition, about how they are using precise positioning technology to enable robotics and automation in agriculture, last-mile delivery and lawn mowers.
Kristof Hayes, an early team member at E-Nano, spoke with Thomas Slattery about working as an engineer on the robotics platform and integrations. E-Nano is a robotics, automation and integration business currently providing services in the sports turf industry. They have longer-term plans to explore broader agricultural use cases for their autonomous soil and crop sensing technology.
In this week’s episode, Thomas Slattery spoke with Jim McDougall, Commerical Director at Outfield Technologies about their exciting technology helping top fruit growers around the world.
Jim is hugely passionate about the future of fruit production. In his previous career assessing environmental risk, it became ever more apparent that we need to become more efficient as a species at feeding the population whilst protecting the planet. Whilst there was a lot of talk and good sentiment, action was needed to really drive change.
And Outfield was born.
At a time of high pressure in the farming industry, Outfield is focussed on helping fruit growers be more productive, more efficient, and more sustainable. To achieve this, Jim and Oli founded Outfield with the ambition of providing growers more precise and accurate knowledge about their orchards. After years of working with growers, researchers, computer vision experts and partners across the industry, Outfield now has a system being used by apple growers across 5 continents to manage orchards with precision, forecast yields with accuracy, and inform the whole supply chain.
We spoke with Dr Tiffany Wood the Chief Executive Officer of Dyneval Ltd, a company with an award-winning patented technology for precise measurement of semen quality based at the Roslin Innovation Centre. Dyneval was founded in April 2020 by Tiffany and Dr Vincent Martinez, both complex fluid physicists from the University of Edinburgh who have researched the motion of tiny particles at the micron scale for over two decades. The novel technology measures the mean speed and percentage of progressively motile spermatozoa data from the fluctuations of light passing through a sample of semen.
Dyneval’s award-winning Dynescan is a portable instrument for precise measurement of semen quality for bovine, equine, ovine and porcine. Powered by Dyneval’s proprietary software, the Dynescan delivers reliable measurements of the percentage progressive motility (% motility) and spermatozoa’s mean speed (micron/second). Designed for dual-mode operation, the Dynescan allows for visual inspection in addition to automated, objective measurement.
Their automated, precise and user-independent measurement technology can analyse fresh, frozen, or sexed semen within minutes and without the need for any additional equipment. Dynescan requires minimum training, is robust and portable, and can be used in a clinic or lab or by the pen side.
Dr Casey Woodward, Founder of AgriSound, speaks with Thomas Slattery about the company’s use of low-cost listening technology to better understand biodiversity in the field and help farmers and growers to both target interventions and protect pollinators.
AgriSound’s technology utilises bioacoustic algorithms to produce a user interface that shows deficits and offers high-level recommendations. With advice from growers about challenges they face relying on manual observations and what they would want from an automated solution, AgriSound has developed strategies to enhance insect levels, map impacts of agrochemicals and support national governments with data-led policymaking.
By combining acoustic technology with environmental sensors, AgriSound has developed a range of innovative products that can aid in maintaining an optimal pollination environment, necessary for not just the survival of future pollinators, but for farms, gardens, and the planet.
Marina Martin Curran PhD, Sustainability Manager at Vivent speaks with Thomas Slattery about their exciting crop health diagnostic technology PhytlSigns, which uses plant electrophysiology, and has been dubbed the ‘Fitbit of plants’. They also talk about the journey for the company’s recent B Corp certification.
Vivent’s technology leads to increased yields, improved crop protection effectiveness, and encourages the adoption of environmentally preferable protection solutions – so more food, less chemicals. With recertification every three years, Vivent has embarked on a process that aims at ever higher standards and continuous improvement.
Vivent was founded in 2012 by serial entrepreneurs Carrol Plummer and Dr. Nigel Wallbridge, who have now applied their information processing and telecommunication system skills to biological networking, with an initial focus on crop monitoring. The pair have worked with leading agricultural institutes, universities, crop protection companies and growers to validate this innovative approach. Vivent’s focus is on high-capital indoor growing operations with plans to move into high-value outdoor crops and then into large volume field crops. More information is available at www.vivent.ch
Bill Miller, Senior Customer Development Manager of LI-COR, spoke with Les Hurdis about how the organisation aims to transition solutions from research level to producer level, and how they can iterate technologies on a long-term scale.
LI-COR has been around for over 50 years, doing agricultural research and measurements, and partnering with agronomists to better understand plant health. Their products and services address important biological and environmental challenges, such as driving towards optimising crop production for yield and carbon sequestration
LI-COR is keen to collaborate with both producers and like-minded companies in the Ag Tech industry.
Jimmy Davies, Managing Director of HOPS AgTech spoke with Les Hurdis about how the organisation has moved into software technology to improve the management of labour from the farm and through the whole supply chain.
– Creating HOPS AgTech
– Changing labour and recruitment landscape in farming
– The road to more autonomous farming
– Software to enable anyone in the supply chain better control over the information flow for seasonal and migrant labour
– Partnering with automation and robotics companies to better understand the role of these innovations in the overall labour workflow
We spoke with Henry Acevedo, Founder, CTO and CEO of Fox Robotics about their journey from warehouse robotics into Agri-Tech and adapting their existing skills and knowledge to automated logistics in the berry sector
Henry had some great insights on breaking into the competitive robotics sector, the importance of building the right team, the complexities of developing robotic hardware solutions and the future of farming.
We spoke with Dr Henry Russell of innovative biotechnology company EnviroSystems; who primarily support dairy farmers directly through their sustainable product range and research.
It was fascinating to discuss their holistic company ethos – the Biocircle – and how this impacts the transition of farms to more sustainable and regenerative systems whilst maximising farm profits.
We also spoke about the recent DEFRA-funded Farming Innovations Pathways (FIP) R&D project that they are carrying out in reducing ammonia emissions from slurry stores.
Anyone interested in learning more about EnviroSystems, their product range and R&D projects or for future collaborations, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This week we spoke with Martin Leahy at Maxon about the use of their mechatronic drive systems in agriculture and particularly in the growing sector of field robotics.
Maxon is a global manufacturing company that specialises in designing DC drives, gearheads and controllers. Their equipment is used everywhere, even on Mars – with over 100 drives on the red planet including the latest Perseverance rover and its companion helicopter. So they are known for reliability and the ability to function in adverse conditions!
Agri-EPI’s Duncan Ross speaks with Paul Baranowski at Climate Edge who are on a mission to help agricultural organisations turn their expertise into interactive services that farmers use – with a focus on emerging market smallholder farmers.
They discuss the challenges of face to face support and advice for small farmers and how digital communication can revolutionise this. The importance of considering accessibility, engagement, learning and iteration when working with these farmers.
We spoke with Jose Chitty of SmartBell to update us on the successes of the WELL-CALF project and the exciting next steps for the team.
Funded by Innovate UK, the WELL-CALF project works to develop the first precision agriculture integrated monitoring system that was specifically designed for early disease detection or developing health issues in calves from seven days old to sixteen weeks old. The project makes optimising treatment and management practices at an individual animal level a simple and accessible reality for dairy and beef farmers.
We’re delighted to be joined by engineering experts Conti in this week’s Seedling Session! Our Data & Automation Lead, Eliot Dixon, sat down with Conti’s Camera Test Expert and Test Team Lead, Christopher Woodrow, to discuss the use of their vision equipment and experience in computer vision in automotive for automation and more in agri-tech.
This week, we’re joined by international property law experts Gill Jennings & Every LLP to talk about IP and agri-tech. Understanding what IP is and the benefits an effective IP strategy is can be invaluable to agri-tech companies looking to protect their hard work, whether that’s their technical innovations, brands or designs.
This week AgriEPI’s Tom Slattery spoke with Synne Foss Budal of NoFence about their virtual fencing solution, why they chose the UK as a market, what farmers are adopting NoFence, how it’s improving life for livestock farmers, the wider future for livestock tech, the importance of considering farmer needs and engagement, as well as some positive customer experiences and what they have to say to the sceptics out there.
Agri-EPI Centre’s Operational Manager Les Hurdiss spoke with Sam Clayton, Founder and Chief People Finder at AgRecruit to hear more about the boom in tech recruitment into the agriculture sector and where the biggest opportunities lie. Their search and selection services help agricultural innovators and game-changers, from start-ups to multinationals, secure the best and brightest candidates in digital and conventional agriculture, for technical, leadership and commercial roles.
Agri-EPI Centre’s Business Development Manager for Duncan Ross spoke with Zac Gazit, CEO & Managing Director of Alvatech about climate change and the need for cost-effective water treatment solutions.
Florian Richter, Founder & CEO of Muddy Machines tackles the topic of robotics on farms, exploring how they can help solve the crisis of labour shortages and bring young talent into the sector. Muddy Machines are currently developing a new generation of field robots that can help growers manage labour-intensive crops by conducting fieldwork, enabling more produce to be grown locally and ensuring that the food we eat is fresher, more sustainable and resilient to future disruption in trade and labour.
Founder and CEO of cutting-edge biotechnology Beta Bugs, Thomas Farrugia, joins us this week to talk about Beta Bugs’ work producing enhanced insect strains for the growing insect-farming industry and the emerging role of insects as a source of sustainable protein. Thomas explains how these strains have the potential to make the agrifood industry more profitable and more sustainable, and how long it will be until insect protein is on every dining table.
The winners of 2021’s Farming and Agricultural Safety Product of the Year, NextGenAgri, discuss their Lone Worker Safety technology as part of Farm Safety Week. Peter Norton, NextGenAgri’s co-founder and director, joins Operational Manager Les Hurdiss to explore new technologies that are addressing critical operational issues in agriculture, from farm security and asset tracking to NextGenAgri’s 3-part solution to lone worker safety.
Oxi-Tech Solutions Limited uses advanced ozone technology to disinfect water, eliminating the need for aggressive chemicals and large plastic barrels which are harmful both to the environment and workers. Having created the most powerful industrial oxidant in use, Dissolved Ozone, we sat down with Oxi-Tech’s Director and R&D Director, Luke Rutterford and Dr Peter Barratt, to discuss how they will commercialise their unique system and what’s next for ozone technology.