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.