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UK-China SmartFarm partnership takes next steps

Utilising UK technology in China

Agri-EPI Centre and one of China’s largest food companies, the Tianjin Food Group, have today signed a collaboration agreement to develop a smart farming project utilising UK technology in China to boost early disease detection and productivity monitoring in pigs.

The project, called “SmartFarm 1.5”, will involve Agri-EPI and UK companies RoboScientific, Greengage Lighting and Innovent Technology, working with pork producers for the Tianjin Food Group in north eastern China. It is being funded by Innovate UK from the UK and supported locally by the Tianjin Food Group.

The new project is a continuation of the SmartFarm concept developed in China by Agri-EPI Centre, which seeks to develop international collaboration to support efficient and sustainable approaches to farming and food production.

The first SmartFarm project looked at precision-based approaches to nitrogen application in wheat production. It ran successfully between 2018 and 19, co-sponsored by Innovate UK, led by Agri-EPI and involving UK companies SoilEssentials and RDS, with autonomous and measurement systems contribution from University of Strathclyde. The Chinese partner organisations were NERCITA, the National Engineering Research Centre for Information Technology in Agriculture and the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technologies China Rural Technology Development Centre (CRTDC).

Following the successful delivery of this inaugural project, Agri-EPI and the Tianjin Food Group agreed to explore further opportunities, resulting in today’s signing of an agreement at the 4th Tianjin World Intelligence Congress.

Agri-EPI Centre Chief Executive Dave Ross said:

“We are honoured to be taking China SmartFarm to the next level by working with the Tianjin Food Group to deliver this important project. China is the world’s

largest producer and consumer of pork and technology and to support better productivity and earlier disease detection has significant potential economic benefits. Agri-EPI is excited to be building relationships with a range of international partners, in China – as well as New Zealand and Paraguay – in delivering SmartFarm projects.”

Committee Secretary and Chairman of Tiajin Food Group Zhang Yong said:

“Agri-EPI Centre is an important part of UK Research and Innovation. It has the world’s leading level in precision agriculture, the application of engineering technology in the entire agricultural industry chain, and the application of agricultural robots. With the continuous development of 5G, Internet of Things, artificial intelligence and other intelligent technologies, agriculture has entered the era of intelligence. Precision feeding, precise management, real-time disease monitoring, and automatic environmental adjustment are all improving the level of agricultural production. At this critical historical opportunity, we hope to co-operate sincerely with the British side, make full use of their respective advantages, jointly develop and demonstrate the promotion of smart agricultural technology, and contribute to the progress of global agricultural technology.”

Alasdair Hamilton, Head of the Science and Innovation Team at the British Embassy, Beijing said:

“Partnerships in agricultural technologies that support sustainable, environmentally friendly farming is a priority area for science and innovation cooperation between the UK and China. The production of sustainable food with a low carbon footprint is a global necessity. It is therefore a pleasure to see that the MOU between Agri-EPI and the Tianjin Food Company will deepen cooperation in data driven technologies that will improve how we farm and produce nutritious food.”

Ian Cox, Innovate UK’s Agri-Tech Centres Innovation Lead said:

“I am delighted that this SmartFarm 1.5 collaboration agreement has been signed today. It marks the next step for both countries working together under our prestigious Flagship Challenge to address the global challenges facing the agriculture and food sectors. This follows on from SmartFarm 1.0 an initiative that formed a key output of the UK China Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy’s Agri-Tech Flagship Challenge, and which was a direct result of an earlier MoU signed between CRTDC and Innovate UK in November 2016.”

The new SmartFarm 1.5 project builds on a long history of UK-China co-operation in agricultural research and innovation. The relationship was enhanced in 2017 with the signing of the UK-China Science Technology and Innovation Strategy. SmartFarm is a core part of one of the strategy’s major deliverables, the Agri-Tech Flagship Challenge.

Food security and increasing farmers’ income remain a primary importance in China’s agriculture and rural policies. Technology plays a key role in the government’s plan to achieve this, with more investment being directed at deploying large agri-tech research programmes and innovation systems.

China’s approach to agricultural innovation overlaps many of the UK’s priorities including those set out in the Industrial Strategy.

On June 30, join Agri-EPI Centre, in partnership with 8 Hours Ahead, for a webinar exploring agri-tech opportunities in China. For more and to register, visit: www.agri-epicentre.com/land-and-grow-the-agri-tech-china-opportunity.

For further information, please contact Jane Smernicki, Agri-EPI Centre Communications Manager on 0131 239 7030, 07985 691 765 or jane.smernicki@agri-epcentre.com.

New film highlights technology for sustainable dairy production

Dairy Production technology

Agri-EPI’s South West Dairy Development Centre (SWDDC) in Somerset and one of its satellite farm, Parkend Farm in Fife, are featured in a new film highlighting the development of technology in dairy production.

The video was produced as part of the Horizon 2020 ‘Internet of Food & Farm’ project. It explores the work of the project’s Dairy Trial Team at Strathclyde University, led by Professors Ivan Andonovic and Craig Michie.

The team is looking at sensors and Artificial Intelligence-based solutions for helping farmers increase their herds’ milk yields, based around a new platform called Herdsman+.

Lots of data about a cow’s health, fertility and performance can be collected using tools such as internet-connect collars, leg tags and milking robots. The key to generating the most accurate picture of each cow in the herd is to be able to integrate this data. Herdsman+ does exactly that, analysing the information to allow the farmer to make well-informed management decisions for optimising each animal’s health, welfare and milk yield.

Agri-EPI has supported the Dairy Trial Team by providing data from the SWDDC and Park End dairy farm. The two dairies have also hosted events for farmers to consult them about new and future tools which may support their businesses’ sustainability during these challenging times for the dairy sector.

 


Logo Science Animated

Science Animated

This video has created by Science Animated is a scientific communication agency who develop engaging and accessible animations based on specific researcher’s work. For more information: https://sciani.com

 

5G no leafy country lane

Duncan Forbes, Manager of our South West Dairy Development Centre in Somerset has been blogging as part of the 5G RuralFirst project. In his latest post he writes:

Rural 5G is no leafy country lane – it’s a data super highway set to put farming in the fast lane!

Sensors are go!

We’ve been busy at the Agri-EPI Centre’s South West Dairy Development Centre equipping our 180-strong herd with Afimilk Silent Herdsman sensors – a key element in our activities as one of the three 5G RuralFirst testbeds. The sensors are fitted to the cows’ collars to measure health parameters including rumination, eating, fertility and health.

As a cow steps into one of the robotic milkers, sensors recognise the animal, record her health and fertility status and know how much milk she is expected to give. The rapid growth in wearable technology, data analytics and automation has the potential to revolutionise how dairy cows are milked and cared for.

It’s important to acknowledge that amongst all this exciting tech, we must never lose sight of the two essential elements of any dairy farm – the cows and the people who care for them. As we develop new technology, we must ensure that the advances benefit one or both of these constants.

Technology such as the Afimilk sensors and robotic milkers are giving us more and more information about the animals which means we can keep an even closer eye on their health and welfare. That’s good from an animal welfare point of view but it is also important in an economic sense – farmers need to get a good return on their investment in order to keep on producing good, healthy food.

So where does 5G come in?

The rapidly growing number of sensors in farming are generating huge quantities of data. The strong, consistent connectivity that 5G can provide will ensure farmers can get the most out of this data. While farming technology is being adopted at a very fast rate, at present most of that technology connects by one means or another to a PC in the farm office.

It then connects through to the internet which is notoriously slow in most rural areas. 5G offers an opportunity to bypass a series of those steps along the way with the potential to pick up data directly from the sensors on the cows, bypass any need for a PC on the farm, get the data onto the cloud, combine it with other relevant data and deliver management support information directly back to farm staff. This data “round trip” could take only milliseconds allowing staff to make instant, informed decisions about livestock welfare and management.

The 5G Rural First project is going to explore the benefits of achieving this massively accelerated connectivity from sensors such as the Afimilk Silent Herdsman and other emerging technology on the dairy farm.

Farmers have suffered from very poor connectivity which limits the amount of data that can be transmitted.  This hasn’t stopped the development of agricultural technology and the industry has found many clever ways to get around the issue, but imagine if we can remove those barriers by having a fantastic highway for data that is 5G – the potential is enormous to transform data into useful information that can help revolutionise the management of livestock and the productivity of UK farming.

Find out more about the South West Dairy Development Centre here.

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Source: 5GRuralFirst

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.

Rural Britain needs a new spectrum model to drive modernisation of the rural economy

5G RuralFirst is the UK’s most ambitious testbed for connectivity in rural areas, demonstrating 5G’s gamechanging potential and identifying practical use cases that will benefit businesses and communities right across the United Kingdom. Through its three testbeds in the Orkney Islands, Somerset, and Shropshire, 5G RuralFirst is identifying and exploring new business models and use cases for connectivity deployment in rural areas and showcasing the potential of 5G in rural environments.

Whitepaper

A recent whitepaper focuses specifically on the spectrum problem to be solved for high capacity rural 5G networks at 3.6 GHz and represents the views of the individual authors on the spectrum lessons that have emerged from the 5G RuralFirst project.

The importance of the 5G pioneer band 3.4-3.8 GHz to the rural community is examined in some detail. The case is made as to why a traditional approach to the release of 5G spectrum will leave rural Britain out in the cold in terms of the transformative benefits of 5G. Some alternative options are looked at and the conclusion is reached that the ‘market expansion model’ set out in the Government’s Future Telecommunications Infrastructure Report is the best option. Some use cases are presented that show opportunistic dynamic spectrum access offers more than enough bandwidth to meet the rural use cases but a small amount of anchor spectrum, to be lightly licenses on a first come first served basis, is essential to create viable investment conditions for the market expansion model.

The paper shows why an amount as little as 20 MHz is sufficient when coupled with opportunistic dynamic spectrum access rights. Such an amount is 5% of the 5G pioneer band at 3.6 GHz and would be a sound national investment likely to offer a good return from a more productive rural economy.

Download the full whitepaper >>

About 5G RuralFirst

The consortium comprises world-leading expertise from 29 partners from across the technology, broadcasting, academic, agricultural and public sectors, including Cisco, the University of Strathclyde, the BBC, the Agri-EPI Centre, Orkney Islands Council and Scottish Futures Trust. For more information, please visit www.5gruralfirst.org

Cisco and network of partners to help address digital divide in the UK with 5G for rural communities

UK government funded testbed, 5G RuralFirst, to help the UK take a leading position in 5G, enabling some of the UK’s disconnected, remote and rural communities to be the first to benefit from the technology…

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