farm safety Archives - Agri-EPI Centre

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Securing UK farms: Tackling rural crime with NextGenAgri

In the wake of the NFU Mutual report on rural crime, Agri-EPI Centre network member NextGenAgri and partners at O.R.P. CCTV and R-Com IoT have teamed up to develop an innovative new solution to help combat what is an irrefutable blight on the agricultural industry.

With an estimated total cost of £43.4m in 2020 – and with rates rising considerably on certain assets and in certain regions – theft is a real cause for concern. But other crimes such as dog attacks on livestock and fly tipping also cost the agrifood sector both time and money every year.

Jim McClean, NFU Mutual Chairman says: “As a farmer myself, I know from personal experience that rural crime […] is far more than an inconvenience. It’s a major disruption that can have a real impact on a farmer’s work life, family life and mental wellbeing. The anxiety experienced by farming families […] is impossible to calculate.”

Solutions to the biggest agrifood challenges

Agri-EPI Centre works alongside farmers, developers and stakeholders to help solve challenges facing agriculture and safety on farm, including the safety of premises and technology, has been at the forefront of our most recent work – including our upcoming Hackathon.

That means working with Agri-EPI Centre network members, such as NextGenAgri to continually test, adapt and develop systems that can keep agricultural assets safe and secure. From plant, asset and vehicle tracking to CCTV systems and intruder alerts, Agri-EPI Centre has been essential to facilitating NextGenAgri’s innovations in agritech.

NextGenAgri uses agri-tech to enable farms to accelerate the adoption of technology to accelerate business growth, providing a range of solutions that couple innovation with the critical challenges of the UK agricultural community, including farm yields, asset security and worker safety.

The Active AI Enhanced CCTV camera developed by NextGenAgri is at the cutting edge of farm site security, extending the capability of existing cameras to deliver proactive alerts, 24-7.

Utilising AI, this system can detect unexpected, out-of-hours movement and can distinguish between different vehicles (from scooters to large plant), people and even suspicious behaviour. Should the system identify something out of the ordinary, the alarm is raised allowing the stakeholder to check and respond accordingly.

Evolving to meet future threats

Gill Nunn, CEO and Founder of NextGenAgri Limited says: “The solutions we have developed with our partners enable us to deliver a highly capable response to criminal behaviour and activity. They also provide a platform for our evolution to meet future threats.”

Duncan Kirby, R-Com IoT says: “The solutions we have developed with our partners provide end-to-end, integrated, and modular solutions that give land owners and farmers alike a proactive, highly accurate, efficient and effective response to criminal activity.”

Referring to Active AI Enhanced CCTV, Chris Marlow, CEO of O.R.P. Surveillance says: “Agricultural settings can be one of the most challenging environments to secure. The flexibility this system offers is a game changer in its adaptability to different environments and its ability to respond to various threats. Smart, automated, pro-active systems are the future of rural security. We are proud and excited to be a part of that.”

Working alongside farmers, tech developers and a wide range of other companies in the agricultural sector is just one of the many ways we facilitate and enable innovation on farms in the UK and internationally. You can find out more about Agri-EPI Centre’s work on our project pages.

Agri-EPI Centre marks Farm Safety Week 2021

Farming is one of the UK’s most dangerous industries to work in; despite making up just 1% of workers, farmers and their employees accounting for as many as 20% of all workplace fatalities.

To raise awareness of farm safety and educate farm workers about how to protect themselves and others on farm, and prevent avoidable deaths on the UK’s 220,000 farms, NFU Mutual established the Farm Safety Foundation in 2014.

Providing farm safety training to over 11,000 young farmers across 44 land-based colleges and universities in the UK, the Farm Safety Week also runs various awareness-raising campaigns such as Mind Your Head, focusing on farmer’s mental health and wellbeing, and Farm Safety Week.

To mark this year’s Farm Safety Week, Agri-EPI Centre spotlighted a wide range of our network members whose innovations in agri-tech improve the safety of farm work and staff. In case you missed Farm Safety Week on social media, you can catch up on the incredible work of the agri-tech companies highlighted here.

Muddy Machines and Earth Rover

Working on farms and with machinery poses a risk of injury to even the most experienced farm workers; when temporary staff are employed on-farm, often with minimal training and little knowledge of the dangers of farm work, there is a far higher risk of serious incidents.

Robotics developers Muddy Machines and Earth Rover field robots are designed to plug the labour gap facing many farmers by automating tasks for fruit picking to crop monitoring, whilst also preventing the need for inexperienced farm workers to be employed on-farm.

While Muddy Machines’ work focus on conducting fieldwork for labour-intensive crops and Earth Rover’s Pointer, Retriever and Terrier bots help farmers reduce their reliance on chemical sprays, the farm safety element of AI and robotics in agriculture is an additional benefit.

Machine Eye

Machine Eye makes workplaces and agricultural and industrial plant safer by giving the machines “sight”. The machines are able to use deep-learning AI and computer vision to continually assess risk in real time and identify any humans who might be at risk by predicting their movement and motion and reacting accordingly.

When an unsafe interaction is detected, Machine Eye is able to raise an alarm or take action to reduce the risk safely and efficiently.

Next Gen Agri Lone Worker Management

Working alone naturally carries risk as there is no one to help raise the alarm in the event of an accident, but can be particularly dangerous in the agricultural sector due to inclement weather,  heavy machinery and remote, rural locations. It’s essential lone workers have procedures in place to ensure their safety; that’s why NextGenAgri established their Lone Worker Solution.

NextGenAgri Agricultural Lone Worker solutions ensure every worker and contractor ensuring can be tracked -and kept safe – whilst working alone, giving employees, operators and management peace of mind.

The solution works around four steps: Alert, Escalate, Report and Manage. Across agriculture, construction, engineering and other sectors, NextGenAgri’s work formalises communication, monitoring and connection to 24/7 support centres to keep lone workers safe.


Storage such as grain silos and pits pose a significant risk of drowning or crushing to workers undertaking maintenance, cleaning or even simple monitoring tasks. From assessing toxic gas levels to assembling the team and equipment required to safely check on grain storage can be time consuming and costly.

The Crover bot is able to “swim” through grain and check every corner of grain bulk using moisture and temperature sensors, meaning only the robot needs to directly access the grain and keeping workers safe. The Crover bot can also provide more accurate grain data for farmers, enabling them to make better-informed decision and prevent grain spoiling.

Farm Safety

To find out more about the Farm Safety Foundation and Farm Safety Week, visit the NFU Mutual website. You can see more of the Agri-EPI Centre members on our network page, or explore our work with innovative agri-tech companies on our project pages.