food security Archives - Agri-EPI Centre

Tag Archive for: food security

Farming Innovation Pathways: LightWeeding

The LightWeeder is a world-first eye-safe, herbicide-free, carbon neutral, commercially viable weeding system delivered by lightweight autonomous field robots via UK agri-robotics company and Agri-EPI Centre member, Earth Rover.

The LightWeeding technology uses semiconductor LEDs to solve key technical, safety and commercialisation challenges faced by laser-based weeding systems.

The LightWeeder is part of CLAWS (Concentrated Light Autonomous Weeding and Scouting), Earth Rover’s agri robot that can kill weeds using a unique concentrated light method, and can also scout fields to obtain a complete data map of all crops after planting, showing the crops exact location, size, and any early signs of disease.

The main features of CLAWS are:

  • Weeding – chemical free and inherently safer than laser weeding. No till and no crop damage and can be used in any conditions without compacting the soil.
  • Scouting – In depth analysis of crops to allow better harvest predictions and increased yields

The complete system is ultra-lightweight (only 300kg) meaning it requires low amounts of energy to run, and is cheaper and more environmentally friendly than many of its competitors. It runs on batteries and (eventually) solar panels therefore uses no fossil fuels and helps farmers meet their net zero targets.

With increasing types of chemical-resistant weeds, a significant downturn in availability of hand labour plus a shift in society towards more organic options, now more than ever there is a need to change the way we farm. A recent report by Rothamsted Research shows weeds “pose an unprecedented threat to our food security” and highlights the need to diversify weed control as an urgent priority.

As explained by John Taylor, Farm Director at Pollybell Organic Farm,

“the key element here is that the LightWeeder not only makes chemical free farming more effective but it also solves the huge issue farmers are facing today in terms of the huge loss in labour force. Being able to weed fields autonomously means that food production doesn’t just grind to a halt.”

Lightweeding has several advantages over mechanical systems: it is energy-efficient and no-till, it does not damage drip irrigation or crops, it is not dependent on soil conditions, and it does not enable weeds to develop resistance. However, effective lightweeding must be low-cost, fast, and offer safe autonomous operation in modern farm environments – criteria that does not exist in-the market at this time.

Agri-tech Conference explored food resilience in COVID age

Together with the Agri-Tech Centres, Agri-EPI organised the Virtual Conference ‘Innovation for Food Resilience’. The event, hosted by BBC Farming Today presenter Charlotte Smith, was designed to showcase and discuss a host of new technologies and techniques helping farming and food production to become more resilient and sustainable. The conference gathered an incredible interest: over 1200 delegates attended the conference and over 20 countries took part. Recordings are made available on demand for those unable to join on the day.

Accelerating agrifood innovation

‘Innovation for Food Resilience’ features insights into key challenges and opportunities for the food and farming sector from industry thought leaders and how new technologies and solutions being developed across the family of UK Agri-Tech Centres could play a pivotal role in supporting productivity and sustainability.

Professor Tim Benton, from international affairs think tank Chatham House, has a clear message about the need to adapt to frequent and unpredictable change and how building resilience is a key strategy for being able to effectively adjust.

NFU President Minette Batters focuses on UK trade and transition and the seismic impact that the current unknowns will have on farming businesses. She highlights how data and innovation can empower farmers to avoid risk and the opportunity for farming to offset carbon for other sectors

Ellen Wilson, Microsoft UK’s Sustainability and Smart Cities Lead highlights the importance of measuring your own journey to sustainability to effectively manage and understand the impact achieved.   Evidence points to sustainability being better for business.

Food resilience and innovation in agriculture

The 4 Agri-Tech Centres explored different aspects of the work underway to promote innovation throughout the food supply chain. Themes covered are climate smart food systems, sustainable productivity, crop and livestock health, and food provenance and quality.

In particular, CHAP’s Dr Harry Langford, spoke about Climate Resilient Food Systems, highlighting the work of CIEL’s Duchy Future Farm; Agri-EPI Centre’s Hands Free Farm and Gelponics, a CHAP project focusing on developing an autonomous, hydroponic system centered around a novel hydrogel growing media. Another project he talked about was the Agrimetrics’ regenerative agriculture platform regenagri, an initiative aimed at securing the health of the land and the wealth of those who live on it.

Stuart Blyth, Head of Business Development of CIEL, covered Food Safety and Provenance, using CIEL’s Agriplas, a cold plasma research facility investigating the potential uses of the antimicrobial properties of this pioneering technology for the food industry. He also spoke about CHAP’s NLG Centre and Crop Storage facility, and Agri-EPI Centre’s Opti-beef project as a good example of the wide range of work being done in this area. The Opti-Beef project is about creating an enhanced decision support platform to modernise, standardise, and drive efficiency improvements across the UK beef supply chain.

Dr Shamal Mohammed, Chief Technical Officer at Agri-EPI Centre looked at Sustainable Productivity, including CHAP’s Soil Health Facility, Agrimetric’s Verde Analytics and CIEL’s Precision Grazing. Last but not least, Anna Woodley, Agrimetrics Head of Sales, covered Crop and Livestock Health with a focus on looking at whole systems rather than managing risks in isolation.

Presentations were followed by a lively Q&A session, with lots of interaction from delegates across the globe. Closing remarks, by Dr Ian Campbell, interim Executive Chair of Innovate UK, provide the key ‘takeaways’ from the event. In particular, he notes how collaboration is key and how the combined capability of the UK Agri-Tech Centres offers the front door for industry to world leading expertise and capabilities.

View on demand

The event can be viewed in its entirety on the UK Agri-Tech Centres YouTube channel.

Event impression

Get in touch

Let us know what Agri-EPI, together with the Agri-Tech Centres, can do for your organisation or how we can inspire innovation in agriculture even further and fill out our contact form.

Tag Archive for: food security

Agri-EPI Centre Annual Conference 2022 – The path to sustainable farming continued: The role of precision technology

Join renowned UK farmers, tech developers, and agri-tech sector representatives for a day of on-farm discussions, networking, and demonstrations at Agri-EPI’s 2022 Annual Conference.

Taking place at the beautiful Shimpling Park Farm, this event will bring together key stakeholders from across the agriculture sector, offering an opportunity for farmers, agri-tech experts and academics to connect, network and discuss the path to sustainability in farming, and the role of precision technology in delivering food security.

This highlight event of the year will provide an opportunity for innovators, farmers, science, industry and investors to be part of the conversation around balancing food security with production, profit, people, and the environment. The event will include panel sessions, tech demonstrations, lunch, networking, and a farm tour.

We look forward to seeing you all there!

Agri-EPI’s Annual Conference: The role of technology in food security

What is the role of technology to deliver food security?

The Agri-EPI Centre’s annual conference brings together key stakeholders from across the agriculture sector, offering an opportunity for farmers, agri-tech experts and academics to connect, network and discuss crucial matters facing the industry.

This highlight event will provide an opportunity for innovators, farmers, science, industry and investors to be part of the conversation around balancing food security with production, profit, people, and the environment. The event will include panel sessions, networking, and a farm tour.

The conference is open to all farmers, scientists, academics, industry representatives, technologists, and investors.

Middle East FOODSEC – Virtual Expo and Summit on Food Security

The region’s most comprehensive expo and summit on food security

Dr Shamal Mohammed, Agri-EPI’s Chief Technical Officer and one of the UK’s leading experts in digital agriculture is one of the speakers at Middle East FOODSEC.

The event presents developments in Food Security at all spatial levels from local, to global markets and from an interdisciplinary and systemic food systems perspective and is an inter-regional platform with a B2B & B2G international trade expo and summit. Shamal Mohammed will be talking about key digital innovations in agriculture that enable food security.

The event features participation from C-level executives, thought leaders, government decision makers, focused investors, entrepreneurs, corporates, food executives, researchers, technology experts, innovators, from across the agriculture and food production supply chain, to uncover disruption within the industry and identify the right business models to commercialize and scale the next generation of solutions.

Additionally, offering an invaluable platform for unparalleled networking and generating significant business leads, the event is a definitive meeting point to gain valuable insight into the latest trends and showcase a diverse array of investment opportunities and forge strategic alliances. Facilitating new connections, collaboration, business partnerships, and industry synergism in the quest for sustainable food innovations for the global economy and society.

Accelerating global agri-tech investor relations

Middle East FOODSEC is to encourage, facilitate and expand national and foreign investments. The event focuses on agricultural assets available to foreign investments and target entities active in buying and selling agriland, food processing factories and other agricultural assets. Thereby creating an opportunity for agreements between local, regional and international partners with the aim of aligning interests and coordinating efforts in this critical area. The summit accelerates the commercialization of advanced agricultural technologies by generating global partnerships and collaborations.

As one of the UK’s four Centres of Agri-Tech Innovation, Agri-EPI Centre is driving agri-tech innovation through engagement with farmers and technology providers to develop, market and upscale digital products and services to improve food production systems and environmental sustainability.

Transforming food systems is crucial for delivering the Sustainable Development Goals. Middle East FOODSEC is pleased to support the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Innovation for Food Resilience

Explore technology’s role in securing UK food resilience with experts from Microsoft UK, NFU, Chatham House and the four UK Agri-Tech Centres.

About the event ‘Innovation for Food Resilience’

Covid-19 has brought a renewed focus on our food security. It has been a stark reminder of the threats to a food system that is globally interconnected and incredibly complex. The agrifood sector is exposed to a wide range of stressors, including climate change and soil degradation, population growth, economic & political disruption, and the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. The resilience of every aspect of the agrifood value chain is being tested.

Innovation for Food Resilience is a free, half-day virtual conference that brings together thought-leaders including Microsoft, Chatham House and the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) for England and Wales, alongside the four UK Agri-Tech Centres – Agri-EPI, Agrimetrics, CHAP (Crop Health and Protection) and CIEL (Centre Innovation Excellence in Livestock) – to discuss the role of innovation and technology in increasing food resilience. Broadcaster Charlotte Smith, perhaps best known for her work on BBC Countryfile and BBC Radio 4’s Farming Today, is guest compere.


Agri-Tech Centres Event | 'Innovation for Food Resilience' | 19 November 2020


Who should attend

Anyone involved in the agrifood supply and value chain, and extending to policy, research and NGOs.

This free online event will be of likely interest and relevance to those working in food production and supply, R&D, innovation, technology, data, sustainability, CSR and related functions across the agrifood value chain.

Why attend ‘Innovation for Food Resilience’

  • Learn more about emerging technologies that could drive innovation within your business
  • Gain a fresh perspective and new insight to help prepare, withstand and adapt to shifting market demands
  • A valuable chance to step back, reflect and focus on key challenges and opportunities for futureproofing your business and wider supply chain
  • Be inspired by, and put your questions to, some of the leading and most influential thought-leaders in their respective fields of expertise.


All times in GMT

13:00 Welcome and introduction by host, Charlotte Smith

13:10 Professor Tim Benton, Research Director at Chatham House

13:35 Minette Batters, President at NFU

14:00 Ellen Wilson, Sustainability & Smart Cities Lead at Microsoft UK

14:25 Break | Four UK Agri-Tech Centres Themed Presentations

14:40 Climate and Net Zero

15:00 Sustainable Productivity

15:20 Crop and Livestock Health

15:40 Food Provenance and Quality

16:00 Break

16:10 Q&A and Panel Discussion

16:45 Closing Remarks

17:00 Conference Close

Agri-Tech Centres Event | 'Innovation for Food Resilience' | 19 November 2020

Food security – UK priorities, supporting domestic production and driving innovation

Agri-EPI’s CTO to present

Dr Shamal Mohammed, Agri-EPI’s CTO will be delivering a presentation on technological developments and innovation in agri-food in improving productivity at this year’s Westminster Food & Nutrition Forum Policy Conference: Food security – UK priorities, supporting domestic production and driving innovation on Monday 30th November 2020.

The Conference, which will be held online, will examine key issues for food security and UK supply chain.

Other keynote presenters include Minette Batters, President, NFU; Anna Taylor, Executive Director, The Food Foundation and Chief Independent Adviser, National Food Strategy; Jack Ward, Chief Executive, British Growers Association; and more.


8.30: Registration
9.00: Chair’s opening remarks – Senior Parliamentarian
9.05: Food Security – the global context and the impact of the pandemic. Senior speaker to be announced
9.20: Key issues for food security and UK supply chain – developing an Environmental Land Management (ELM) scheme that supports domestic food production, maintains standards and aids sector recovery from the pandemic Minette Batters, President, NFU
9.35: Questions and comments from the floor
9.55: Break
10.00: Stakeholder perspectives on UK food security – the impact of Brexit, meeting environmental targets, and developing funding and regulatory mechanisms to support production

  • Anna Taylor, Executive Director, The Food Foundation and Chief Independent Adviser, National Food Strategy
  • Jack Ward, Chief Executive, British Growers Association
  • Vicki Hird, Sustainable Farming Campaign Coordinator, Sustain
  • Neil Shand, Interim Chief Executive, National Beef Association
  • Sarah Blanford, Organic, Crop, and Data Manager, Sainsbury’s

Questions and comments from the floor
11.15:  Chair’s closing remarks -Senior Parliamentarian
11.20: Break
11.30: Chair’s opening remarks – Senior Parliamentarian
11.35: Improving land use, supply chain efficiency and the road to net zero – Senior representative, sustainability
11.40: The effect of moves towards sustainable diets on UK food security and climate targets – managing the transition, adapting to consumer trends and opportunities for novel foods – Christian Reynolds, Senior Lecturer, Centre for Food Policy, City, University of London; Senior representative, food industry
12.00: The role of developments in agri-food and crop science in improving productivity – innovation, regulation and supporting sector growth – Dr Shamal Mohammed, Chief Technical Officer, Agri-EPI Centre; Senior representative, crop science
12.20: The impact of future trade negotiations – food standards, access to markets and meeting global commitments
12.30: Senior commentator
Questions and comments from the floor
12.55: Chair’s and Westminster Food & Nutrition Forum closing remarks -Senior Parliamentarian, Michael Ryan, Deputy Editor, Westminster Food & Nutrition Forum

Register now: