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Best of UK agri-tech to be showcased during Agri-EPI Centre’s Innovation Week 2021

From ground-breaking sustainable milk production to a quality-monitoring robot that can ‘swim’ through stored grain, Agri-EPI Centre will be showcasing exciting new technologies which support sustainable food production during its inaugural Innovation Week.

In partnership with the UK’s leading innovation funding experts, Leyton, the event will run from 24th to 28th May. Daily webinar sessions will explore how the UK agri-tech is playing a rapidly growing role in tackling pre-farm gate challenges and delivering improvements in efficiency and profitability, while addressing environmental concerns.

Innovation Week 2021

The programme will cover five themes:

  • Monday 24th May – Technologies which detect changes in animal behaviour and health on-farm 
  • Tuesday 25th May – Future proofing the arable sector with precision
  • Wednesday 26th May – Improving animal welfare and reducing variances at a producer level
  • Thursday 27th May – How UK agri-tech is making a difference around the world
  • Friday 28th May – Sustainable fish production

Each webinar will look at a variety of innovation projects being delivered by Agri-EPI in partnership with farm businesses, technology companies and research institutions. Speakers from each of the projects will provide their perspectives and answer the audience’s questions.

“A great event for inspiration and networking”

Agri-EPI Centre’s Chief Executive, Dave Ross, said: “Agri-EPI Centre is involved with more than 26 exciting agri-food projects on a national and international level. Whatever your place in the agri-food supply chain, our week-long event is a must to hear about the latest innovations. We’re extremely grateful to our sponsor Leyton for supporting what promises to be a great event for inspiration and networking.”

Mark Petty, Head of Strategic Alliances, Leyton UK, said: “It is extremely exciting to work with an organisation that shares our passion in championing the incredible Innovation that is taking place in the agri sector. We had no hesitation in supporting Agri-EPI Centre’s inaugural Innovation Week, it is a great opportunity to showcase cutting edge technological, environmental and welfare projects from all over the UK that are tackling the key challenges that the sector is facing.

“We have seen over the last year how reliant we are on the efficient running of the agricultural supply chain and how crucial changes will be in ensuring that the sector plays its part in delivering responsible consumption and production. Agri-EPI’s innovation week is a not-to-be-missed event for businesses throughout the supply chain who are looking to invest in and accelerate their innovation.”

All webinars are free to attend. For more information and to sign up, please visit

Supporting UK aquaculture innovation with new marine R&D facility

New multi-species, marine aquaculture trials facility in Argyll, Scotland

Agri-EPI, in conjunction with Otter Ferry Seafish, is establishing a new industry-led R&D facility in Scotland.

The new facility, co-funded by Innovate UK, provides much-needed capacity for developing innovative production technologies for diverse marine aquaculture species, including salmon to near market size. The facility is configured to undertake a wide range of studies, such as evaluating feeds and pharmaceuticals, instrumentation testing and validation of operational welfare indicators.

Technical set-up

The trials facility comprises six 20m3 and twelve 2m3 aquaculture rearing tanks, equipped with programmable lighting, automatic feeding, and oxygen & pH monitoring systems. All tanks are supplied with filtered, UV-disinfected seawater, with waste feed collectors fitted to the outflows. The facility is suitable for rearing diverse species including fin fish and non-fin fish such as cleaner fish, microalgae, shellfish & seaweed.

Sustainable aquaculture

In this joint venture between Otter Ferry Seafish and Agri-EPI, both partners will drive the business development. As operational lead, Otter Ferry Seafish brings in extensive industry experience and technical knowledge; Agri-EPI will lead on the industry engagement and project management.

Otter Ferry Seafish is one of the longest established aquaculture businesses in the UK. Starting out as a pioneering trout and salmon farm more than five decades ago, the company currently farms, halibut, lumpfish and wrasse commercially, and is actively involved in collaborative aquaculture R&D programmes. The new R&D facility is in a strategically important aquaculture producing region: Loch Fyne in Argyll, Scotland.

Approved at the end of last year, the R&D facility is now being built and will be open for business before the end of this summer.


If you are interested in a research and development project using this facility, or any aspect of our Agri-EPI collaborations, project results and industry impact, please get in touch with us. We’ll be delighted to talk to you:

Agri-EPI Centre featured as supporter of Midlands tech innovators in UK Government campaign

As part of a UK Government campaign encouraging UK companies to export their goods, the Department for International Trade has released a short video which we were delighted to see featured Agri-EPI Centre, our partners and our Midlands Innovation Hub.

UK Agri-Tech Centres appoint Cross-Centre Communications Manager

The UK Agri-Tech Centres – Agri-EPI Centre, Agrimetrics, CHAP and CIEL – are pleased to announce the appointment of Jane Smernicki to the newly created post of Cross-Centre Communications Manager.

This is a strategically important post for the family of Centres, focused on increasing their collective engagement with stakeholders and raising the profile of their impact in supporting sustainable food production.

Fraser Black, Chief Executive of CHAP said: “The UK Agri-Tech Centres have always worked together closely to engage with organisations and businesses across policy, academia, the engineering and technology sectors and the agri-food supply chain. Joint activities such as our very well attended food resilience conference at the end of last year have enhanced our collective profile and highlighted our impact as enablers of agri-food innovation.

“This new post signifies the increasing importance of our collective engagement with key stakeholders in support of resilient and sustainable food systems in the UK and globally. It is particularly relevant during this time of opportunity for food production and the related challenges of Net Zero and the recovery of landscape and nature.”

Jane Smernicki will take up the post from 1st April. She brings to the role more than 20 years of experience of journalism and communications in a variety of sectors. She has spent a decade working in agri-food, having been Head of Communications with Scotland’s Rural College before joining Agri-EPI Centre in 2018.

Agri-EPI and partners lead BSAS conference session

Agri-EPI Centre and partners will be leading a session at the BSAS conference on 13 April, exploring the intersection of technology, animal health and sustainable food production.  

The BSAS Conference, titled ‘The Challenge of Change – the New Normal?’ (12-15 April), will bring together numerous sectors connected to animal science to discuss the challenges involved in sustainable production in the post-Covid and Brexit era.  

Agri-EPI will present perspectives on the role of new technologies in sustainable agri-food systems. There will be a chance to hear from Agri-EPI’s Head of Dairy, Duncan Forbes, about the latest innovations being trialled at the South West Dairy Development Centre and from Innovent’s David Barclay, SRUC’s Rick D’Eath, and Agri-EPI’s Naomi Smitten, about ‘TailTech’ – a project utilising 3D imaging to predict tail biting in pigs.  

 Dr Tim Potter of VetPartners and George Brownlee of Farmvet Systems will enter into a ‘talking heads’ style discussion, shining a light on what it’s like being a farm-vet on the ground during Covid, and how technology can help vets continue to deliver the best possible service to clients and livestock.   

Kasi McReddie, Agri-EPI’s Business Development Manager for Livestock and Dairy and session lead said: 

“Agri-EPI are thrilled to be included in the first BSAS Virtual Conference. There are so many promising technologies being trialled across the Agri-EPI Centre Farm Network, that have the potential to improve animal health and contribute to the sustainability of British farming. We’re delighted that so many of our respected colleagues have contributed to this session.”  

Agri-EPI members can access a discounted conference delegate rate – details can be found at the BSAS website. You can also find out more about the BSAS Conference 2021 on our dedicated events page.

Agri-EPI appoints Claire Hodge as Head of Crops

Agri-EPI Centre is delighted to announce the appointment of Claire Hodge in a newly-created role, Head of Crops.

Claire, who joins Agri-EPI from her position as Arable Knowledge Exchange Manager with AHDB, will develop and lead the implementation of the organisation’s strategy for crops (especially high value crops), fruit and vegetables.

Growing our satellite farm network

Claire brings to the role her in-depth knowledge and experience of the crop sector, and wide network connections. Based at Agri-EPI’s Southern Hub in Cranfield, she will work both nationally and internationally and will play an especially important role in expanding the activities of Agri-EPI’s satellite farm network.

After graduating from Newcastle University in 2005 with a degree in Agriculture, Claire worked on farms in New Zealand before joining Greenvale AP in 2006. It was here that she was introduced to the opportunities within the potato industry. Taking on various roles in procurement, trading, agronomy and factory production, she learnt about the challenges of the cycles in potato production.

Innovation in the crop sector

Claire joined the Potato Council, now AHDB, in 2012, working in Scotland with industry, levy payers and key stakeholders to help growers improve farm efficiency. Claire has a passion for travel and learning and has recently completed a Nuffield scholarship which has taken her across the world to look at potato production systems.

Agri-EPI’s Chief Technical Officer, Dr Shamal Mohammed, said: “We are delighted Claire has joined our team. She brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to lead our work on innovation in the crop sector and to support our satellite farm network, members and partners.”

Claire said: “I am excited to be joining the Agri-EPI team, especially at the moment as the agricultural industry finds ways to find successes through unsettled times.”

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