UK Agri-Tech Centres showcase contribution to transforming food production

The role of the UK’s four Agri-Tech Centres in achieving sustainable global food production has been highlighted at two on-farm events, attracting over 200 delegates from across the arable and livestock sectors.

The events, held March 26 and 28 at Newcastle University’s Cockle Park Farm, showcased collaborative research and development projects involving the UK’s four Agri-Tech Centres: Agri-EPI Centre, Agrimetrics, CHAP (Crop Health and Protection) and CIEL (the Centre for Innovation Excellence in Livestock).

Whilst four distinct organisations, the Centre’s work in partnership and share a common objective – to drive greater efficiency, resilience and wealth across the agrifood sector.

Event delegates from industry and policy witnessed the latest advancements in technologies and capabilities from the Centres and their research partners.

Together with Innovate UK, the Centres lined up a series of practical demonstrations and talks highlighting the progress that is being made, all of which support the UK’s Industrial Strategy of ‘Transforming Food Production’.

Exhibits featured at the ‘crop’ day included:

  • An SME-led collaborative project involving CHAP to develop a new vertical farming system. The system aims to reduce costs, improve crop yields, and reduce grower intervention by improving decision support and automation in lighting, nutrient and environmental controls technologies.
  • A field demonstration of agricultural robots and drones, including Agri-Rover, an autonomous robot developed by Agri-EPI partner Strathclyde University that can conduct chemical soil tests in a timely and cost-effective way.

The livestock event included:

  • A demonstration of the role of a variety of sensors in precision livestock management, featuring the Beef Monitor being developed by Agri-EPI Centre and industry partners and involving trials at Agri-EPI satellite farms.
  • Numerous innovations led by CIEL that will drive future precision livestock systems to manage health & welfare, use resources efficiently and provide high quality food for consumers. Tech on display ranged from mobile CT scanning and DXA imaging facilities for assessing body condition and carcass traits, and digital image & audio smart tools for monitoring animal health & welfare

For data specialist Agri-Tech Centre Agrimetrics the events were a chance to showcase how a global food business, a major agrochemical manufacturer and a new start-up are all using Agrimetrics’s data and data capabilities to support their businesses, and how Agrimetrics is working with Microsoft and Airbus to create a resource that can address the sector’s biggest challenges.

The UK is home to research and industries at the forefront of understanding crops and livestock. By highlighting the crucial role of this sector at these events we will demonstrate how funding research and innovation projects can transform the precision crop and livestock agricultural sectors. This is a crucial part of the government’s industrial strategy to create the industries and jobs of tomorrow.

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