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.


Submissions of papers – Journal ‘Sensors’ focusing on IoT for Precision Agriculture

Submissions are being invited to a special edition of the international journal Sensors, focusing on the ‘Internet of Things for Precision Agriculture”. The special issue of Sensors, a peer-reviewed open access journal on the science and technology of sensors and biosensors, will seek to capture the latest innovations relevant to the development and adoption of precision agriculture.  The journal is being guest edited by academics at the University of Strathclyde’s Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, which which Agri-EPI Centre collaborates.

Topics of interest include, but are not limited to, the following themes:

  •        Intelligent Sensing Technologies
  •        Data Architectures and Management
  •        Edge Computing
  •        Network and Communications Technologies
  •        IoT Platform Integration
  •        Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence
  •        Emerging Applications/Services and Cloud Analytics
  •        Information Visualisation
  •        Security, Privacy and Trust
  •        Inter-Operability and Standards
  •        Emerging Business Models

The deadline for submissions is April 15, 2019.

For further information, click here.

Launch of South West Dairy Development Centre

Agri-EPI Centre has launched its state-of-the-art South West Dairy Development Centre in Somerset, which aims to offer a fresh vision for sustainable UK milk production.

The £1.36 million, 180-cow dairy unit provides a truly innovative environment for the development, testing and demonstration of new technologies and techniques to support sustainable, efficient and high health and welfare milk production.

The centre combines innovative building design and management systems to create a highly efficient, low cost dairy system, with the capital cost of developing the dairy from scratch amounting to less that £8,000 per cow. The centre’s remit is to offer a platform for industry to trial and review new ideas for the benefit of dairy farmers throughout the UK.

Duncan Forbes, Agri-EPI project manager for the new centre said:

Our mantra here is, ‘measure it to manage it’. Sensor technology is being used to gather data to enable us to maximise precision in many aspects of feeding, production, health and welfare across the farm: indoors and outdoors, by satellite, and on and inside the cows. The automation of many processes within the dairy releases skilled staff to devote more of their time to cow health and welfare.

Precision grazing is at the top of the centre’s agenda. While the number of robotic dairies in the UK continues to increase, and it is recognised that grass can be a least-cost feed for dairy herds, successful grazing has been difficult to implement on many robotic units.

The new centre aims to tackle this by using emerging technology such as hyperspectral imaging and satellite data to monitor and predict grass growth in its surrounding paddocks, allowing the herd access to up to three fresh areas of grazing per day. A network of tracks and flexible paddocks encourage cow flow between the between the paddocks and the robot milkers.

A number of trials are already underway or planned for the centre. It is one of three UK ‘testbeds’ for the 5G RuralFirst project, the UK’s most ambitious connectivity project. Led by Cisco and involving a consortium of partners it aims to demonstrate how connectivity will benefit rural communities and business across the UK. A number of technologies utilising 5G data are to be trialled, including cow collars, monitoring health and welfare, digital systems to monitor cow fertility through milk analysis and, in the future, a ‘virtual vet’ system connecting stockpeople to a vet using augmented reality.

The Dairy Development Centre has been established in close partnership with independent dairy specialists Kingshay, who manage the facility. The Centre has been established by Agri-EPI using funding from Innovate UK and support from industry partners.

Welcoming the Centre’s launch today at an event attended by figures from industry, academia and government, Ian Cox, Innovate UK’s Agri-Tech Centres Innovation Lead, said:

The new South West Dairy Centre fits very well with Innovate UK’s vision to support the development and adoption of new technologies to help UK farming become more sustainable, efficient and profitable. It is good that the new centre is now operational and we hope it will become a central resource for use by the UK dairy industry.

Dawnfresh, signing up to the Agri-EPI centre Satellite farm network

Stephen Burns (Senior Project Manager) had a great visit to Loch Etive a few weeks ago. Stephen Burns (Senior Project Manager) had a great visit to Loch Etive a few weeks ago where he discussed how we would be…

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