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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 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.”

Webinar to highlight Colombian opportunities for UK agri-tech

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.”

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.

Sustainable Enhancement of Agriculture and Aquaculture Production Translation Call

> 9 July | Call opens
> 18 September @ 4PM | Competition closes

BBSRC and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) will shortly announce a joint call to support the translation of research, to address challenges related to the sustainable enhancement of agriculture (including crops and livestock) and aquaculture (including finfish and shellfish) in Low and Middle Income Countries (LMICs) on the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) list of Official Development Assistance (ODA) recipients in the Sub-Saharan Africa, Southern Asia and South-Eastern Asia regions.

The purpose of this initiative is to increase and accelerate the uptake and impact of BBSRC and/or NERC funded research into practical application, supporting interdisciplinary projects to address current food security development and environmental challenges related to food production in the listed LMICs, and to deliver tangible and demonstrable economic and/or welfare benefits to the partner(s).

Read more

FFAR: Smart Broiler Research Initiative – Deadline: 29.05.2019

The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) and McDonald’s Corporation have teamed up to offer multiple grants (totalling $4 million) to the groups or individuals who successfully develop and commercialize  automated monitoring tools that can objectively assess key animal welfare indicators in broiler chickens.

Phase I: Early Testing and Refinement
Objective: Explore potential technologies and monitoring methods
Number of Anticipated Awards: 1-4
Maximum Request: $500,000
Pre-Proposal Due Date: May 29, 2019
Full Proposal Due Date (if selected): September 5, 2019
Notifications for Awardees: November-December 2019
Anticipated Project Start Date: January 2020
Phase I Duration: 18 months

Phase II: Validation of Welfare Assessment Tools
Objective: Refinement and large-scale validation of technologies
Number of Anticipated Awards: 2
Maximum Request: $1,000,000
Phase I Report Due Date: June 2021
Anticipated Renewal Start Date: July 2021
Duration: 18 months

For more information and to apply go to the FFAR website.

 

Latest technology for beef farmers to feature at Scotland’s beef event 2019

– Press release –

A comprehensive programme of practical demonstrations highlighting the latest technology available to beef farmers will be a major feature of Scotland’s Beef Event 2019 to be held on an Aberdeenshire farm on May 30.

This biennial on-farm event for the beef industry, organised by the Scottish Beef Association, will be hosted by farmers, Robbie and Barbara Milne, and son, James, at North Bethelnie, Oldmeldrum.

The main enterprise on the farm is a suckler herd of 320 Salers and Salers cross cows crossed with Charolais, Aberdeen-Angus and Salers bulls, with all calves either finished on the farm or sold as forward stores.

Features of the extensive programme will include a demonstration by the Agri-EPI centre of the benefits of sensor technology for the beef industry. This will include a new technique of inserting a bolus to measure body temperature for the earlier detection and warning of possible health problems such as pneumonia and Silent Herdsman collars, as used in the dairy industry, for fertility management and pregnancy diagnosis.

The Beef Monitor System, developed by Ritchie of Forfar in a project supported by Scotbeef and M&S, will also be featured. The system enables the performance of finishing cattle to be closely monitored by using technology to have them automatically weighed every time they drink.

The latest update to the system processes all the data using a traffic light system to indicate the performance of individual animals. The next step will be the fitting of cameras to measure conformation and predict the animal’s carcase classification.

A crate fitted with solar panels has also been developed to enable the system to be used in grass paddocks.

Moocall will be demonstrating their calving sensor which attaches to the tail of cows and tracks the tail movement patterns to accurately predict when cows are likely to give birth. An SMS text alert is sent out by ‘phone an hour prior to calving to enable the stock person to be present for the birth. The system is 100% non-invasive and gathers 600 pieces of data per second so that it can accurately predict when cows will give birth.

Other features will include demonstrations of foot trimming by Michael Creighton, drone technology for livestock systems by Mike Swindells of Perfect Pasture, and hydrogen powered machinery by Philip Davies of Water-Fuel Engineering.

The benefits of pelvic measurements as an aid to select heifers for easy calving will be explained by vet, Graham Fowlie, of Meadows Vets, Oldmeldrum, in a Vet Spotlight session, and SAC senior beef consultant, Gavin Hill, will conduct a live discussion with Robbie and James Milne on the management of their beef cattle enterprise.

There will also be a fencing demonstration by Alistair Smart of GP Smart and Son, Alford, and the benefits of wood waste, green waste and paper waste will be featured in an alternative bedding demonstration by A W Jenkinson Forest Products and Keenan Recycling, New Deer.

It is also hoped to include a special demonstration on grassland management, covering treatments, cultivations and applications.

“Technology is the future and Scotland’s Beef Event will provide beef farmers with an ideal opportunity to catch up with all the latest technology as it applies to the beef industry and to discuss its benefits with the experts,” said SBA vice-chairman, David Barron, who chairs the event organising committee.

“We are grateful to those organisations who are arranging such a comprehensive demonstration programme which will be of great interest to all beef producers.”

Other features of the event will include a farm tour, beef breeds demonstrations, a “Beef after Brexit” seminar, stockjudging competitions and an extensive trade stand area.

Gold sponsors already confirmed include ANM Group, Clydesdale Bank, East Coast Viners Animal Nutrition, Kepak McIntosh Donald, Meadows Veterinary Centre, Norvite Animal Nutrition, Ravenhill, Salers Cattle Society and Water-Fuel Engineering.

Agri-Tech Catalyst funding to support agricultural and food systems innovation in Africa

Competition opens: April 2019

Deadline: June 2019

There is up to £3 million of funding available from the Department for International Development (DFID) for early-stage feasibility studies, mid stage industrial research and late-stage experimental development. Projects must work on agri-tech and food chain innovations with partners in eligible African countries.

The aim of this competition is to increase the pace of development and scale of uptake of agricultural and food systems innovation by farmers and food systems actors (such as manufacturers, processors, retailers, distributors or wholesalers) in Africa. All projects must be collaborative and must include at least one partner from the UK and one from an eligible African country. All funding for businesses and research organisations will be sent through the administrative lead organisation.

You can find out more on the competition page, which will be published here in due course.

KTN is hosting a briefing and consortia building event for Round 8 of the Agri-Tech Catalyst on Friday 22nd March in Birmingham and a series of online webinars on Friday 5th April to provide more tailored support to applicants focussing on projects involving crops, livestock and aquaculture, or food systems and nutrition.

  • Friday 22nd March – Free Briefing & Consortia Building Event – Birmingham. Places are limited and a registration of interest system is being used. Register your interest here
  • Friday 5th April 9.30 – 11.00 Crop Webinar. Register here.
  • Friday 5th April 12.00 – 13.30 Livestock and Aquaculture Webinar. Register here.
  • Friday 5th April 14.00 – 15.30 Food Systems and Nutrition Webinar. Register here.

Further information can be found on the KTN website here.  Please contact a member of the KTN Agri-Food team on agrifood@ktn-uk.org if you would like to discuss a potential application or need help finding a project partner.

 

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