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New innovation centre unlocks aquaculture opportunities

Agri-EPI Centre’s latest innovation hub at Loch Fyne on Scotland’s Argyll coast will help to drive sustainable solutions and improve efficiency for the UK aquaculture industry.

In partnership with independent aquaculture company, Otter Ferry Seafish (OFS) – and jointly funded by Innovate UK and Agri-EPI Centre – the Marine Aquaculture and Innovation Centre (MAIC) offers fully serviced research and development facilities to aquaculture producers and technology providers.

For further information on the MAIC facility or to enquire about research collaboration please contact Charlie Bowyer.

charlie.bowyer@agri-epicentre.com

“We’ve been involved in aquaculture innovation and new species development since 1968,” says Alastair Barge, Managing Director at OFS.

“For this initiative, we did market research to see what the sector needed to deliver sustainable solutions – R&D requires facilities, and most businesses can’t afford to run their own research stations 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.”

The MAIC comprises a series of replicated small and large land-based tanks, located indoors under programmable lighting.

“The tanks have water capacities of two cubic metres and 20m3, respectively. In the 12 smaller tanks we can test four different regimes or diets, in triplicate, as commonly required for scientific evaluation,” Mr Barge explains. “In the six larger tanks, we can rear salmon and other farmed species to near-harvest weight.”

The tanks have a water flow-through system, incorporating pre-treatment using sand filtration and UV sterilisation. They are fitted with particle separators to measure uneaten food and fish waste.

Eduardo Jimenez, OFS’s Research and Development Manager, says:

“Land-based tanks offer greater environmental control than cages or other sea-based growing systems, improving the reliability of trials data. Interference from environmental factors is minimised because we can control and replicate conditions like lighting, water exchange rate, and oxygen levels.”

And the first trials are already under way.

“At the moment we are running a benchmarking feed trial for a commercial client comparing three diets, to assess which is best in terms of fish growth and feed conversion efficiency.”

As well as helping to improve diets and treatments for farmed fish and shellfish, the MAIC is well suited for evaluating different strains of commercial farmed species and for developing rearing methods for up-and-coming species like seaweeds. It also provides a platform for validating new aquaculture technologies for counting and observing livestock and monitoring water quality.

“This is a great new resource supporting UK aquaculture innovation and we’re going to keep improving the facilities, bringing in new species and trials,” says Dr Jimenez.

Improving aquaculture sustainability is at the core of the partnership and the MAIC.

“I think this centre can be a model for innovation, all with a background of sustainability,” adds Mr Barge.

Lisa Williams, Director of Business Development at Agri-EPI, is excited about the range of R&D projects which the centre can help with.

“It’s one of a kind in the UK. The centre will facilitate a range of trial work that will enable us to really look at efficiencies within the sector. It also opens the opportunity to carry out near-market trials, as well as linking into the long-term sustainability of the sector and wider ecosystem within that supply chain.”

“The partnership is a perfect combination to drive forward change and is a valuable resource to aquaculture businesses that want to initiate and progress R&D projects. If any business is interested in undertaking a project, then we encourage them to get in touch.”

 

New tech to transform global agriculture – 2021 Excellence Awards winners announced

New technology is set to transform global agriculture, and two agtech companies recognised for their importance in animal health and environmental protection are making rapid progress.

The first – awarded for its contribution to British agriculture – focuses on animal health. Pruex is using non-infective bacteria to improve air quality in poultry units, reducing ammonia emissions and the requirement for antibiotics..

ALVÁTECH Water – awarded for its global impact – has developed a clean, sustainable way to desalinise soil, enabling farmers to irrigate with saline water, reduce water use and even restore salinized soil to healthy, productive farmland.

Both companies were recognised at Agri-EPI’s inaugural Agri-Tech Excellence Awards in October 2021, and are now reaping the rewards of their success by extending their commercial reach around the globe.

“Last year we grew very fast, and we’re now planning a large funding round to further expand worldwide,” explains Zac Gazit, CEO at ALVÁTECH. “We started working with Agri-EPI in December 2020 as we realised they could help with several key things. They know the industry and trends in technology, and we were looking to work with farmers and governments.”

One of the biggest benefits of winning this important award – aside from the global prestige – is an introduction to the formidable judging panel, comprising Syngenta, Kubota, Leyton, Barclays and Marks & Spencer.

“M&S is buying fresh produce from farmers using our devices, and we’re having good, constructive conversations with the whole panel; there are synergies in our ethos and business and we hope to be able to work with all of them.”

ALVÁTECH is now working in 24 countries across six continents, both with government and non-governmental organisations as well as directly with 1000s of farmers.

“Our technology dissociates salt into its components which enables farmers to immediately use less water and fertilisers,” says Mr Gazit. “It is a life-changer for entire regions and millions of farmers in Africa, the Middle East and Latin America.”

Farmers are using 20-60 less water, 30% less fertiliser, and are reducing soil salinity by 30% on average. As a result, yields are boosted over 20% – although the more degraded the soil the greater the scale of improvement farmers see.

“Our farmers are reducing costs while improving the soil for the next generation. This is an important green legacy for our planet.”

Pruex is in a similar position; it’s working with 1000s of farmers across the UK, Europe and South Africa, and looks forward to having discussions with M&S following the award.

Using beneficial bacteria to compete with disease-causing strains is a relatively new concept, but Pruex’s game-changing idea is an automated spraying system to apply the bacteria throughout the sheds. This not only benefits the chickens themselves, but also reduces ammonia emissions. This improves air quality for workers and birds, boosting productivity and the birds’ immune systems, and many farms are able to reduce their use of antibiotics; reducing the risk of antibiotic resistance.

“It’s proving very popular,” says Sarah Dusgate, research and development manager at Pruex. “We’ve been working with poultry farmers from the start of the business, but we have developed a new technology that will help to deploy our bacteria products more effectively and easily.”

· For more information visit https://agri-epicentre.com, www.alva-water.com or www.pruex.co.uk.

World Water Day 2021: Agritech solutions for better resource management

The 22nd March is World Water Day, an observance day established by the United Nations to highlight the importance of fresh water and raise awareness of the millions of people around the world who still don’t have access to the crucial resource.

World Water Day was established in 1993 to bring greater attention to water scarcity, water pollution, sanitation, water supply and climate change, with each annual event centring on themes from improving hygiene to sustainability.

Events take place around the world to celebrate the day, including fundraising events, campaign launches, volunteering opportunities and discussion in both the real and digital world on key water issues.

World Water Day 2021

Taking place largely online, World Water Day 2021 is focused on ‘Valuing Water’, with activities designed to support the achieved of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6: Water and Sanitation for all by 2030.

Whether it’s household or industrial use, water is integral to how we live, eat and work, with wider impacts on education, health and economics. Safeguarding this essential – and crucially, finite – resource is at the heart of World Water Day 2021, as climate change and peak population levels put global water supply under more pressure than ever before.

Sustainable and Equitable water resource management is of particular importance to the agriculture sector, and the UN World Water Development Report 2021 underlines just how often water is overlooked.

Working with agri-tech partners for greater sustainability

Agri-EPI Centre works with a range of aquaculture and agritech specialists, supporting farmers, academic institutions and a range of other partners to improve the sustainability, efficiency and productivity of water use in agriculture. this World Water Day, we’re celebrating the incredible work agri-tech companies are doing to preserve precious water supplies and benefit the entire planet.

ALVÁTECH 

ALVÁTECH is a leading supplier of affordable technology that enables farmers to use water with higher salinity for irrigation and livestock, so they can save fresh water and improve crop growth. Currently operating in 11 countries around the world, ALVÁTECH’s EMF Active Water System is at the forefront of improving water management in agriculture.

Aqua Innovation Ltd

Developing innovative solutions for the salmon farming industry, Aqua Innovation Ltd. support aquaculture farmers to create the best environments for fish farming, through projects such as the SeaCAP 6000. From fish welfare to waste management and regulatory issues, the work of Aqua Innovation Ltd is driving growth of the aquaculture sector.

Aquapulse

Aquapulse’s natural, non-chemical water technology for the agriculture, fish farming and horticulture sectors, delivering environmental benefits as well as improving sustainability, hygiene and greater profit margins. Naturally cleaner water systems mean healthier animals and crops, and better quality produce such as dairy , fruit and vegetables.

Oxi-Tech Solutions

Emerging UK tech company Oxi-Tech Solutions is currently commercialising a game-changing water disinfection system set to improve animal hygiene and water quality for a range of sectors. Their development of the most powerful oxidant in use today, Dissolved Ozone, removes chemicals and plastics found in water, eliminating the need for chlorine for dairy farmers.

SEM World

Hugely relevant to the 2021 World Water Day theme of ‘Valuing Water’, SEM Energy Ltd works to recycle waste into new products and contribute to a circular, waste-free economy. From meter installations to rust removal, SEM’s solutions usue the latest technology for outstanding results.

Agriculture and World Water Day

Both now and in the future, agri-tech will be key to better management of water resources; from improving crop productivity relative to their water consumption to crop resilience to flooding and drought. Real-time monitoring of crop, soil and weather data can ensure optimal use of water, while biotechnology will enable farmers to produce more with less water.

To find out more about World Water Day and UN-led events you can get involved with, visit the UN Water page. To discover our network (or join it!), you can see our full list of network members and see how agri-tech is transforming agriculture through our projects.