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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.

ATOS Digital Vision for Farming: Dairy farm of the future

Agri-EPI Centre Project Manager Duncan Forbes is featured in a new Digital Vision for Farming opinion paper produced by Atos, a global leader in digital transformation. Through expert contributions, including a welcome from George Eustice MP, Minister of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, the paper outlines key challenges and the role of digital solutions in meeting the Government’s policy goals in supporting the UK’s food, farming and environment industries. Duncan is featured talking about the benefits to the dairy sector of measurement and data analytics.

Duncan leads Agri-EPI’s new South West Dairy Centre, a state-of-the-art, 180-cow dairy in Somerset. Funded by Innovate UK, the £1.36 million facility provides a platform for the industry and partners to develop, trial and share new technologies and techniques supporting sustainable and profitable dairy farming.

The Centre embodies Agri-EPI’s overall aim of accelerating the adoption of productivity-boosting precision farming by providing world-class R&D; connecting academia and industry; and progressing next generation technologies.

An excerpt from Duncan’s feature is reproduced below:

Dairy farm of the future

For dairy farms, using analytics and capturing more data about both the animals and their environment will deliver gains right across the board, from better productivity and animal health to higher work satisfaction and more effective environmental management.

At the heart of any successful dairy enterprise is precision management in two key domains. Firstly, the wellbeing of the cows: healthy cows are essential to healthy dairy businesses, enabling them to continue to invest inwardly and in the environment. Secondly, the welfare of the people looking after the animals: labour is one of the biggest costs of milk production and to get the best return on that investment, we need to maintain an industry in which skilled people want to work. At the same time, to fulfil their wider land stewardship responsibilities, farming operations must be profitable and sustainable.

Measure to manage

Critical to effective herd management is timely decision-making based on accurate and detailed information. It’s estimated that while 25% of the average herd are replaced annually, nearly three quarters of those losses are avoidable. Yet with milk producers and herd managers increasingly stretched, taking consistent measurements can be time-consuming. That’s where connected technologies and automation can make all the difference. It’s not unusual for six hours a day to be spent milking on a traditional dairy farm. Robotic milkers release all that ‘milk harvesting’ time for skilled workers to focus on animal welfare, while the robot milkers continue recording detailed data 24/7 about each cow’s health and milk. These robotics can be integrated with automated feeding systems, which also release significant amounts of time and optimise feed use, together with sensors outside and inside that improve precision grazing by measuring and managing the environment and each cow’s nutritional needs.

Emerging technologies

These kinds of technologies are in place at the South West Dairy Development Centre, which was set up to create a vision of the future for dairy farming, as well as operating as a commercially viable enterprise and acting as one of three testbeds for the 5G RuralFirst project. This was established to exploit the huge opportunities that 5G connectivity can provide for rural businesses. The Centre has demonstration and research facilities for emerging technologies that will help UK dairying meet some of its most important challenges.

Read more

To read the full interview with Duncan, download the full Digital Vision paper.


Source: Atos

Launch of South West Dairy Development Centre

Agri-EPI Centre has launched its state-of-the-art South West Dairy Development Centre in Somerset, which aims to offer a fresh vision for sustainable UK milk production.

The £1.36 million, 180-cow dairy unit provides a truly innovative environment for the development, testing and demonstration of new technologies and techniques to support sustainable, efficient and high health and welfare milk production.

The centre combines innovative building design and management systems to create a highly efficient, low cost dairy system, with the capital cost of developing the dairy from scratch amounting to less that £8,000 per cow. The centre’s remit is to offer a platform for industry to trial and review new ideas for the benefit of dairy farmers throughout the UK.

Duncan Forbes, Agri-EPI project manager for the new centre said:

Our mantra here is, ‘measure it to manage it’. Sensor technology is being used to gather data to enable us to maximise precision in many aspects of feeding, production, health and welfare across the farm: indoors and outdoors, by satellite, and on and inside the cows. The automation of many processes within the dairy releases skilled staff to devote more of their time to cow health and welfare.

Precision grazing is at the top of the centre’s agenda. While the number of robotic dairies in the UK continues to increase, and it is recognised that grass can be a least-cost feed for dairy herds, successful grazing has been difficult to implement on many robotic units.

The new centre aims to tackle this by using emerging technology such as hyperspectral imaging and satellite data to monitor and predict grass growth in its surrounding paddocks, allowing the herd access to up to three fresh areas of grazing per day. A network of tracks and flexible paddocks encourage cow flow between the between the paddocks and the robot milkers.

A number of trials are already underway or planned for the centre. It is one of three UK ‘testbeds’ for the 5G RuralFirst project, the UK’s most ambitious connectivity project. Led by Cisco and involving a consortium of partners it aims to demonstrate how connectivity will benefit rural communities and business across the UK. A number of technologies utilising 5G data are to be trialled, including cow collars, monitoring health and welfare, digital systems to monitor cow fertility through milk analysis and, in the future, a ‘virtual vet’ system connecting stockpeople to a vet using augmented reality.

The Dairy Development Centre has been established in close partnership with independent dairy specialists Kingshay, who manage the facility. The Centre has been established by Agri-EPI using funding from Innovate UK and support from industry partners.

Welcoming the Centre’s launch today at an event attended by figures from industry, academia and government, Ian Cox, Innovate UK’s Agri-Tech Centres Innovation Lead, said:

The new South West Dairy Centre fits very well with Innovate UK’s vision to support the development and adoption of new technologies to help UK farming become more sustainable, efficient and profitable. It is good that the new centre is now operational and we hope it will become a central resource for use by the UK dairy industry.

Bringing together agri-tech industry partners

Acting as an industry-focussed innovation network is Agri-EPI’s core business. The more connected we can make the agri-tech sector, the better. Last week, Agri-EPI Centre welcomed more than 60 members to Cranfield…

Presentation of Canning Paper on AgTech in Latin America

Canning House held an event to present the latest Canning Paper, on AgTech in Latin America. Dave Ross, CEO of Agri-EPI Centre, one of the UK’s four agri-tech centres, introduced the panel in his capacity as chair of the…

UK Agri-Tech Centres of Agricultural Innovation unveil shared vision online

The UK’s four Agri-Tech Centres have come together as one voice to showcase their commitment to positioning the UK sector as a global leader in sustainable food production.

A new website launched last month at the Agri-Tech Centres ‘capability showcase’ event organised by InnovateUK at Newport, Shropshire, summarises the vision, aims and achievements of the four Centres. In line with the UK Government’s Industrial Strategy to Create a Better Britain, the four Centres are positioned to provide the expertise, infrastructure and commitment to deliver innovation and new growth for the UK agrifood sector.

UK AgriTech Centres banner

Each Centre has its own unique focus and purpose:

  • CHAP is fundamentally changing the way plant disease and pest threats are managed;
  • CIEL is driving new industry-led research to deliver sustainable animal production;
  • Agri-EPI Centre is accelerating the uptake of precision engineering solutions;
  • Agrimetrics is harnessing data to identify new agrifood solutions outside the scope of traditional thinking.

“It’s important that each Centre focusses on their specific objectives, but also, that they work together to address some of our most pressing food challenges that no one Centre can address alone.”

~ Innovate UK’s Calum Murray

This new website provides new and existing audiences alike with an inspiring and compelling summary of why the Agri-Tech Centres are so important to UK food and farming – and what each Centre sets out to deliver.

Discover more about the vision, aims and impacts of the Agri-Tech Centres at www.agritechcentres.com

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