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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.”

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?

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:

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.

A dairy farm fit for the future

The new South West Dairy Development Centre, Agri-EPI Centre’s dairy farm of the future, is located in the south west of England – an important milk producing region, home to nearly 25% of dairy cows in Great Britain…

Work starts on new Agri-EPI Centre Precision Dairy Farm

Ground has been broken on the Harper Adams University farm, signalling the start of building work to create a new high-tech dairy unit

The £750,000 facility, which will operate alongside Harper Adams’ existing dairy unit, will serve the Agricultural Engineering Precision Innovation (Agri-EPI) Centre, which received £17.7 million investment under the Government’s Agri-tech Strategy to help the UK’s agri-food sector develop advanced technologies that will increase productivity and sustainability in UK agriculture.

The Centre will have hubs in Edinburgh, Harper Adams University (the Agri-Innovation Hub, already under construction) and Cranfield University, but will also be served by a series of farms and processing facilities equipped with the latest sensing and imaging equipment – including the new precision dairy unit at Harper Adams.

The new dairy will be one of three such units within Agri-EPI, with Kingshay Farming in Somerset and SRUC in Dumfries involved in establishing the others.

Professor of Applied Animal Behaviour, Mark Rutter, explained:

“The new dairy facilities within Agri-EPI will enable scientists, the dairy industry and agri-engineering companies to work together to develop the next generation of dairy housing and management.

A key concept will be developing technology that facilitates cow choice, as research has shown that this can improve milk production efficiency as well as improving animal welfare.”

The Agri-EPI Centre is a consortium of key organisations in the field of precision agriculture and engineering. It brings together expertise in research and industry, as well as data gathering capacity in all areas of farming, to increase the efficiency and sustainability of the land-based industries.

By uniting organisations in all sections of the supply chain – 76 companies and institutions in all – it will become a world-leading centre for excellence in engineering and precision agriculture for the livestock, arable, aquaculture and horticulture sectors.

The new building is costing nearly £520,000 to construct, with the project total reaching £750,000 once equipment and other associated works are taken into account.

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Source: this article has been published on the Harper Adams University website

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