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Ross Robertson joins Agri-EPI Centre

We are delighted to welcome Ross Robertson as our new Head of Agri-Tech (Mixed) and the newest member of our Agri-EPI team!

Coming from a farming background and working on farms from a young age, Ross graduated from SAC Craibstone with an HND in Agriculture and went straight to work on a pedigree Aberdeen Angus farm. He progressed into sales after several years and then into area management and product development with a local manufacturer of quality Livestock Equipment. Working with Technology equipment at development and design stages in an IUK project then lead to furthering his career into the job role of Head of Agri-Tech at Agri-EPI Centre.

In collaboration with our Head of Crops and Head of Dairy, this Mixed role will support our livestock farmers with a focus on regenerative agriculture and agricultural sustainability, with the aim of developing and and delivering Agri EPI’s offerings across the mixed farming sector including beef, sheep, pigs, poultry, grassland and combinable crops.

“Agri-Tech has a very exciting future ahead. The technologies that we are a part of developing will help the UK Agri Sector massively to carry on being one of the best in the world” — Ross Robertson, Head of Agri-Tech (Mixed) at Agri-EPI Centre

Welcome to Agri-EPI: Charlie Bowyer

We are thrilled to welcome our most recent Agri-EPI Centre recruit, Charlie Bowyer, to the team as our new Business Development Manager for Livestock and Agriculture.

Coming from a family mixed sheep and beef farm in South Wales, Charlie graduated from Harper Adams University with a degree in Agriculture in 2015. He then entered the biogas sector, where he worked until 2020 whilst remaining involved with the farm at home. More recently, Charlie worked in forage seed sales, before joining us here at Agri-EPI last month.

As our BD Manager for Livestock and Aquaculture, Charlie will be facilitating and supporting research & development projects within the application of precision agriculture for these sectors, such as trialling new and innovative slurry handling methods, precision monitoring fish growth, or validating new remote cattle health monitoring.

Charlie is excited to be exposed to new, cutting-edge innovations through Agri-EPI and to get involved with the wide range of companies, farmers and projects that we work with. He believes the application and gathering of data will make a huge impact on the future of agri-tech to refine processes and come up with the next generation of innovations.

“Agriculture has always been in a state of change, but current environmental, financial and consumer drivers are forcing change faster than ever before. If we are to meet the grand challenges of reducing emissions and pollution, increasing production and improving animal welfare and food quality, precision and innovation will be cornerstones of the future of agriculture and aquaculture. I am excited to be part of making this happen!” — Charlie Bowyer, Business Development Manager for Livestock and Aquaculture at Agri-EPI Centre

World Milk Day 2021: How agri-tech is boosting milk production

June 1st marks World Milk Day, a global celebration of the dairy sector and its most widely-consumed produce. Established in 2001 by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, the day focuses on promoting the benefits of milk and dairy products.

The dairy sector is central to agri-tech innovation, with a wide range of new technologies currently in development and trial. From robotic milking and feeding machines to environmental sensors and smart cow collars, agri-tech is key to improving efficiencies and productivity of the dairy sector, as well as improving animal welfare and care.

Innovative agri-tech solutions that draw on cutting-edge AI, imaging and robotics technologies are also essential to inspiring a new workforce in the sector. “The dairy farm of the future needs to be an exciting place for future generation to work in a world of ever-increasing choice,” reflects Duncan Forbes, Head of Dairy at Agri-EPI Centre.

Forbes continues that agri-tech must rise to the meet the “circular dairy challenge”, which includes achieving sustainability goals such as global net zero targets.

Innovations in dairy sector agri-tech

The range of applications for agri-tech, and the benefits smarter farming solutions can offer dairy farmers, are wide-ranging and exciting. Video is highlighted as an emerging technology for dairy cow management, as well as radar, audio and remote sensors, all of which can be used to monitor the wellbeing of cattle and help farmers make better decisions about their livestock.

SmARTview is one such project taking great strides to drive the adoption of agri-tech across the dairy sector. Currently in the trial stages, Agri-EPI Centre is working in partnership with the University of Bristol and mathematical modelling experts Quant Foundry to use affordable off-the-shelf cameras to monitor minute changes in cow behaviour.

The project aims to develop an AI-based system through which a “hololens” AR headset can recognise individual animals and allow the wearer to view key health and productivity data about livestock in real time.

Combined with machine learning and predictive analytics, the data collected by the SmARtview project can identify early signs of disease and illness in animals, putting quality data at farmers’ fingertips to improve decision-making, productivity and efficiency on-farm.

Looking forwards

 

This World Milk Day, we’re hugely proud to celebrate SmARTview as just one of our many exciting agri-tech innovations in the dairy sector currently being explored. We can’t wait to see what the dairy sector looks like on World Milk Day next year, or even in ten years.

You can find out more about our work in the dairy sector and projects similar to SmARTview on our website.

Welcoming NoFence to our Midlands Agri-Tech Innovation Hub

NoFence (www.nofence.co.uk), has created the world’s first virtual fencing for livestock: using GPS and cellular communication technology built into special collars to help farmers graze animals on pasture without the need for traditional penning and electric fences. Our vision is to improve animal welfare and make it easier for farmers to rear animals, as well as promote sustainable food production and help people to make better use of pasture resources throughout the world.

The Agri-EPI Centre Midlands Agri-Tech Innovation Hub is designed to unite tech innovators, business thinkers, engineers and all agricultural expertise under one roof. From flexible office space to events and workshops, the hub supports agri-tech innovators to take their solutions from the planning stage to testing on commercial farms and ultimately to market.

Set in the home of British agricultural engineering, Shropshire, on the Harper Adams University campus, the hub is one of four Agri-EPI Centre facilities. We sat down with network member and Innovation Hub resident NoFence to catch up on their game-changing fencing solutions and how the Midlands centre is supporting agri-tech innovation.

The world’s first virtual fencing for livestock

Using GPS and cellular communication technology, Nofence eliminates the need for traditional pens and electric fences for livestock. Smart tech in special collars worn by the animals means they can graze on pastures without physical boundaries, making farming easier for farmers, more sustainable for the planet and kinder to animals.

“The Nofence system facilitates the managed grazing process,” explains the Nofence team. “[It allows] farmers to change the boundaries of the grazing zones throughout the day, in order to optimise the energy uptake in the grass and avoid overgrazing.”

“Grazing animals on open pasture land offers well-documented benefits for both wildlife and the environment. For example, grazing animals will often choose more dominant plant species to eat, allowing less competitive plants to thrive. In addition, grazing animals that lie and roll help increase structural diversity of the land, and trampling helps to create areas of bare ground that produce nurseries for seedlings.”

Inspire, inform, innovate

Nofence is just one of the many agri-tech innovators in residence at our Midlands Agri-Tech Innovation Hub, where the availability of all kinds of agricultural expertise and access to commercial farms for trials and research offer practical benefits to their agri-tech solutions.

“We are always striving to create a product that the farmers find useful,” they say. “It’s not about what we want to make, but about what the customers need.”

Testing technology in a real farming environment allows agri-tech companies to see the practical application of the technology being developed. For Nofence, it’s been hugely exciting to see how their work helps the farmer bring a herd out of the barn and into the pasture.

“Nofence takes the animals back outside, so that the farmer can benefit from all of the land and the ‘free food’ that the animals are made to collect. The grazing ruminant has always been there and is equipped with four legs to find their own food – Nofence allows them to do this, in a much simpler way than before.”

The future of agri-tech

Looking ahead, Nofence plans to use the Midlands Innovation Hub as a centre to continue developing innovative agri-tech solutions and forge links between the UK and their home country of Norway. For Nofence, the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of self-sufficiency: “With our technology, countries like Norway and the UK can utilise all of their land to produce food and rely less on imports,” they explain.

With big plans and even bigger goals, Nofence shows no sign of slowing down and can rely on the Midlands Hub as a springboard for their projects to grow nationwide. “Our goal for the UK is that every farmer should have the option to fence virtually,” they declare. “Physical fencing is so 2018!”

To find out more about our Agri-Tech Innovation Hubs, and see how your business could benefit from the many spaces and opportunities available, contact us today.

COVID-19 will drive digital transformation for livestock vets

The COVID-19 crisis is a catalyst for increasing the rate of digital adoption by UK livestock vets, according to Agri-EPI Centre Board member Matt Dobbs.

Writing for the Animal Pharm website, Matt, who is practice lead for digital technology at Stonehaven Consulting, suggests coronavirus has led the already-challenged veterinary industry to question the ways it works and identify areas for improvement.

Factors already indirectly influencing the livestock veterinary industry, including the increasing focus on domestic food production, have come even more to the fore because of the crisis. As food production responds and adapts, says Matt, livestock vets must consider how they can stay ahead of the game.

Digital transformation for livestock vets

Digital solutions for monitoring livestock health and welfare have become more varied and more affordable over the past 10-15 years, while also becoming of greater interest to the big processors and retailers. Matt believes the rise of digital technology could very well revolutionise the types of services offered by livestock vets.

Citing the move by the UK’s Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons to respond to Covid-19 by legalising the remote prescribing of medications to farms, Matt suggests, that should this happen across Europe, we will reach a point where the majority of medicines are dispensed by just a few companies.

Loss of revenue in this area means farm vets will have to look at new streams, very likely involving tech solutions. This could see ruminant vets becoming consultants looking after larger animal populations remotely, like their pig and poultry counterparts already do.

Matt said:

“The future is going to be very different. You will see different business models, such as dedicated farm consultant working from the back of their car. Do they really need an office and all the expense that goes into having a clinical practice? All they really need is a decent laptop, access to health and production data and a car.”

Stay informed

Keep up to date with the latest impact and results of our work, plus, news, innovation and approaches across the sector. Read our latest news and Agri-EPI blogs.

Webinar agri-tech opportunities in Columbia

International collaboration

The diverse opportunities in Colombia available to UK agri-tech companies is the focus of an Agri-EPI Centre webinar on Thursday 23 April.

Agri-EPI’s Director of Business Development Lisa Williams, who will co-host the webinar, was part of a recent trade mission to Colombia, organised by the Prosperity Fund, the Knowledge Transfer Network and the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT). During a tour of the country, Lisa witnessed first-hand the many opportunities, particularly those associated with fruit, coffee, livestock and cocoa supply chains.

Lisa said:

“There is so much potential in Colombia for UK agri-tech businesses. At present, there is a significant gap in yield between the smallest and largest producers and technology is needed to help fill the gap.

“It’s clear that the Colombian government and its agri-food sector want to increase food production, but, crucially, they want to achieve this sustainably, meaning technology has a huge role to play in increasing precision and efficiency across all sectors. The various organisations I met are extremely interested in working with UK agri-tech companies so there is a huge opportunity in this diverse country.”

Agri-tech in Colombia

Colombia is the third largest Latin American country by population (49.8m) and the fourth largest by GDP. It had an average economic growth of over 4% between 2001 and 2017 and grew 2.7% in 2018. Ranked third in Latin America and the Caribbean for “ease of doing business” in 2017 by World Bank and the IMF, Colombia has access to 60 countries and more than 1.5 billion consumers through its network of trade agreements. Some of these agreements include the US, Canada, the EU, and South Korea.

Hosting the webinar with Lisa will be representatives from the British Embassy Colombia, Catapult Satellite Applications and Knowledge Transfer Network.

The speakers will provide an overview of findings from the trade mission and how UK agri-tech companies can respond to the needs of the Colombian agri-food supply chain. There will also be information about Colombia’s major trade show, ‘Expo Agrofuturo’, which, coronavirus restrictions allowing, is planned for August this year.

More information and sign up details for the webinar can be found here.

Stay informed

Keep up to date with the latest impact and results of our work, plus, news, innovation and approaches across the sector. Read our latest news and Agri-EPI blogs.

Tag Archive for: Livestock

Tag Archive for: Livestock

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