The REAP 2021 Start-Up Showcase, sponsored by Rothamsted Enterprises, features a line-up of exciting early-stage agri-tech ventures – energy saving for glasshouses; pollination innovation; baits for insect pests; diagnostics for plant health; yield prediction that helps inform decision making on interventions and automation for asparagus and raspberry harvesting.
Fieldwork Robotics is on track to deliver an automated harvester for raspberries in 2022 that will be available for hire on a pay-per-kilo basis with selected growers, and is currently fundraising to speed its development.
To enable farmers to increase pollinator levels, AgriSound is launching an insect listening device called POLY, which displays a heat-map on a smartphone to show insect activity. It highlights pollination deficits on-farm as well as providing proof that interventions increase ecosystem services.
A new molasses bait spray will lure Spotted-Wing Drosophila, an invasive fruit fly, to its death before it has a chance to lay its eggs on fruit crops, and only uses a tiny amount of insecticide against one of UK horticulture’s biggest threats.
Detecting changes in the rate of photosynthesis can give a fast indication of the plant physiological state, resulting from the levels of water, light, temperature or nutrient levels. Gardin has developed an optical phenotyping sensor, a low-cost device that can give the grower timely recommendations for action.
A heat sensitive coating for greenhouse glass, that would maintain optimum temperatures all year around and remove the annual cost of applying and removing shading, is being developed by University of Bristol spin-out Albotherm.
The robot uses an automated gripper arm to cut the asparagus that is within the grower’s spec and place it in a container, and it can predict yields, thereby increasing the value of the crop.
Jonathan Gill, Mechatronics & UAV Researcher at Harper Adams University is looking at the benefits for soil health of using smaller, lighter machinery. The Hands-Free Farm has just completed its second year and will be planting its third crop for a 2022 harvest.
Dr Mark Else, Head of Crop Science and Production Systems at NIAB EMR, is leading work on advanced irrigation techniques, focussed on developing and delivering precision irrigation strategies for commercial growers, where demand is matched with supply
Liangxiu Han, Professor of Computer Science at Manchester Metropolitan University, is leading work to develop a robotic rover platform to offer automated intelligent soil and plant nitrogen diagnosis.