network Archives - Agri-EPI Centre

Tag Archive for: network

Drones help farm plan for sustainable future

A forward-thinking farmer has teamed up with agri-tech experts to help develop drone technology to head off the effects of future labour shortages.

Paul Hayward, of Cold Harbour Farm in Yorkshire, is working with the Agri-EPI Centre in Edinburgh to find new ways to work more efficiently.

He said:

“Our business uses skilled local people. They are tech literate but there’s no doubt we’re not getting younger people through so increasingly we will face staffing challenges.”

A current project the farm is working on with Agri-EPI involves making better use of drone technology by extending the use and application of it – and Paul said the training supplied by Agri-EPI would be particularly beneficial.

He said:

“We can fly it and take some images, but it is all about making best use of those images quickly and translating them onto a piece of kit that will go onto the field and do the job.

“If you could feed that information from the drone into the controller for the fertiliser spreader, or something like that, it would be a great help.

“Drone technology could ultimately help with timeliness, precision application and, not replacing people, but making people’s time more effective.”

The drone project is just one of the collaborations the farm has taken part in since being introduced to Agri-EPI by LEAF – Linking Environment and Farming. LEAF aims to show that intensive agriculture is consistent with caring for the environment, and Cold Harbour has been a demonstration farm since 1993.

Paul added:

“A network like Agri-EPI, which brings together knowledge, expertise, innovation and funding know-how, is not just a mutually beneficial arrangement for our business, it’s necessary to make progress.

“Individuals just can’t do what Agri-EPI do, you just can’t. You have to realise your limitations. It’s got to be a team approach.”

Cold Harbour Farm, near Beverley, has been in the same family since 1889 and covers 300 hectares. It is a largely arable farm, with some beef cattle. The farm is also part of The Green Pea Company, a co-operative of 250 farms growing vining peas for the Birds Eye factory in nearby Hull.

An unused cowshed at the farm has also been converted into Calf House Studios, a collection of affordable studio and workshop spaces for local artists and craftspeople.

For more information about the Agri-EPI Centres, visit www.agri-epicentre.com/ For information about Cold Harbour Farm, visit www.cold-harbour-farm.co.uk/

 

Cold Harbour Farm case study

Farm Tech Circle launched by Agri EPI Centre

Agri EPI Centre has launched a free membership network for farmers to discover and connect on topics that focus on enhancing the profitability and sustainability of agriculture.

Agri-EPI has identified that there is a need to bridge the gap between academia, research, technology development and the farming community to support technological adoption on-farm.

“From a recent farmer-led survey conducted by Agri EPI Centre, 78% of those questioned believe reducing greenhouse gas emissions was important to their business. However, only 35% have confidence that technology will help them reach net zero.

“These results highlight the disconnect between those creating technology and those that are using it to support the sustainability of their business. This is where being part of Farm Tech Circle will help.” – Trish Toop, CTO at Agri-EPI Centre

Agri EPI Centre has worked in collaboration with farmers, growers and producers since its conception.

“We have a network of 25 Satellite Farms which are commercial farms that we engage with to trial and validate innovative technologies.

“Farm Tech Circle is an extension of our current engagement with farmers. It is an inclusive membership for any farmer looking to enhance the sustainability of their farm business through knowledge exchange and the support of technology.”

As part of the free membership, farmers will be able to connect, learn and engage through access to the following benefits:

  • Priority registration for Agri-EPI Centre hosted events
  • Engagement with our technical team
  • Quarterly newsletters featuring information and articles on technology, systems or processes to help support business decisions
  • Member networking opportunities

Those wishing to find out more about Farm Tech Circle and/or join are encouraged to visit: https://agri-epicentre.com/membership/farm-tech-circle/

Increasing buffer feeding precision with new agri-technologies

Faced with rising feed prices, effective use of grass for both grazing and conservation is increasingly important for farmers to maintain margins. Balancing the need to ensure sufficient silage stocks for the coming winter with the desire to get the most from grazing to reduce spend on purchased feed.

As the climate remains unpredictable, as seen by the cold, wet spring of 2020 followed by hot, dry weather, grass growth rates have seen wide variances year-on-year. With so many fluctuations in price and seasonal changes, buffer feeding is likely to be required by many farmers at some stage during the grazing season to prepare for dips in grass growth.

While the majority of buffer feed is made up of maize and grass silage, there are alternatives available. In partnership with molasses blend supplier ED&F Man, Agri-EPI Centre research conducted at the Agri-EPI South West Dairy Development Centre found that including a proportion of straw and molasses-based liquid feed in the buffer feed can offer the dual benefits of allowing production to be maintained whilst preserving valuable silage stocks.

Buffer feeding research

The trial aimed to better understand and analyse the impact of replacing some grass silage in the buffer feed with a mix of wheat straw and Regumix, a high-energy and protein liquid feed made from molasses, compared to the original feed and the molasses/straw buffer feed.

Utilising the centre’s GEA Mullerup automated feeding system, a digitally-controlled system with the necessary precision for feeding trials, and working with Agri-EPI’s operational partner, Kingshay Dairy Consultants, ensured data and delivery protocols were adhered to for reliable results. 

Lower feed costs, greater production

Georgina Chapman, technical support manager at ED&F Man, reported: “Over a six-week period, there was no difference in yield between the cows fed the initial buffer and those where straw and Regumix was included. The cows were mainly later lactation and the animals on the molasses buffer showed similar lactation persistency but slightly better compositional quality.”

“Importantly, for cows in later lactation, there was no difference in body condition changes between the two groups,” she added. “However, there was a saving of 7.5kg silage per cow per day. Assuming 200 cows were fed the new buffer, the total silage saved over the six weeks would have been over 60 tons, giving more for winter feeding.”

In a commercial herd, the buffer feed would probably have been needed for 18 weeks; on closer analysis, this suggested potential savings of closer to 200 tons, which could then be used to increase silage fed per cow per day over winter.

Chapman noted that, as molasses and straw are easily stored and less likely to perish in storage, their inclusion in buffer feed can also contribute to maximising silage production and availability, ultimately maintaining production from grazing and reducing the impact of higher feed costs for farmers.

Agri-technology increases buffer feeding precision

Reviewing the trial results, Agri-EPI Centre’s head of dairy at the South West Dairy Development Centre Duncan Forbes said, “We know growth rates can change very quickly … with the best will in the world no dairy farmer can keep on top of grazing output using manual techniques. At the same time, adjusting buffer feeds on a more frequent basis would be a challenge.”

“Collecting and utilising better management information could help take a significant step in improving grazing use – and new technologies hold the key to this.”

“Integrated use of data and technology in this way can help improve the contribution from grazing, reduce feed costs, improve grazing utilisation and help meet carbon reduction targets for more sustainable systems.”

With further trials already underway using hyperspectral imaging and satellite data to monitor and predict grass growth, helping farmers optimise precision grazing and fine-tune buffer feed, agri-technology continues to support farmers. Agri-EPI’s work to improve agricultural productivity and save farmers time and money even attracted the attention of British Dairying, who covered the buffer feeding precision trials.   

Tag Archive for: network

Nothing Found

Sorry, no posts matched your criteria