REAP Conference 2024 registration is open
Book tickets, feature in the technology exhibition or apply for a REAP bursary - available for farmers and those in full-time agriculture-related study

Game changing fruit-tech for productivity and sustainability

Agri-TechE Article
Agri-TechE

Economic conditions in fruit growing and horticulture are still very challenging, with input and production costs increasing faster than the sale price of produce.

Agri-TechE members argue that innovation has potential to transform the sector. Many growers are working closely with researchers and technologists to co-develop solutions to industry challenges.

Here we capture some of the technologies and tools that are becoming available for:

  • precision targeting of inputs
  • management of pests and diseases
  • automating cultivation and harvesting
  • enhancing pollination
  • controlling the growing environment

Take a look through our flipbook below to find out more, including some essential first steps to accelerate technology adoption.

With input from the Agri-TechE ecosystem, including NIAB, PheroSyn, Farmable, RootWave, AgriSound, and University of Essex.

Unveiling the theme for REAP 2024

Agri-TechE Blog
Agri-TechE

“You’re ALL individuals” proclaims Brian, the anti-hero in Monty Python’s infamous film, The Life of Brian.

“Yes” replies the assembled crowd, speaking in unison… “We ARE all individuals.”

Global agriculture has become simultaneously both larger scale and yet more granular and personalised, thanks to technology. But do the benefits of bespoke management of individual plants, animals or birds really outweigh the costs when compared with broadscale handling of the entire crop, herd or flock?

On the one hand, the ability to observe and manage very large areas of land is a triumph of productivity and efficiency, enabling farm and land operations to take place at scale. Within that, however, are innovations that are enabling ever more precise management of crops and livestock – to the point where individual plants, animals and land areas can benefit from specific, tailored husbandry regimes.

Robotic dairies have made management of individual dairy cows a reality, and the rise of robotics and automation enables per-plant management. As interest rises in inter-cropping, it’s even possible to manage two or more crops simultaneously in a field, so one size – or blanket application – no longer fits all.

Robotic dairy
Milking robot at Mill Farm Dairy
Intercropping plants
Intercropping beans

But how feasible is it to deliver optimal nutrition, water, and bespoke pest and disease prevention to every individual and, is it worth the return on the investment?

Do yields, quality and welfare increase significantly by better, bespoke management?

Will this accelerate the journey to reaching net zero GHG emissions for the industry?

And will precision management mean that individuals become more resilient to a lower input future, or will it lead to even more dependence and an unmanageable data tsunami to keep track of the various demands and needs of individuals?

Just because technology enables detailed information to be gathered at a very granular level, is it desirable to do so? What is this information revealing about what to do differently?

Enter REAP 2024.

theme for REAP 2024

To answer all these, for our theme this year we’ll be considering where the balance lies between “management of the many” compared with “optimisation of the one.”

As well as hearing about the hottest agri-tech start-ups, the exciting emerging farm-facing research, and meeting existing and future contacts, registration is now open for REAP 2024.

Our keynote REAP speaker, Elliott Grant from Mineral, has been pioneering “computational agriculture” to transform agriculture. His thesis is that high frequency – not just high-resolution management in farming is now possible, with autonomous, AI-enabled machines working alongside humans. This way, the robots and humans can learn together the specific details of a farm, field, soil type, and management practices can build on previous learned knowledge and designed experimentation.

Join us on 6 November, 2024. REAP 2024 Early Bird tickets are on sale now.

And, we are accepting applications for organisations to join our REAP technology exhibition.

REAP 2024 Keynote: Will advances in AI and perception revolutionise agriculture?

Agri-TechE Article
Agri-TechE

At REAP 2024 we will be considering where the optimum balance lies between “management of the many” and “optimisation of the one.” Technology is available to gather increasingly detailed information about every aspect of farming – but does more data always lead to beneficial interventions? And is the cost of getting there worth the return?

The keynote presentation at REAP aims to challenge. It is with pleasure that we announce that Dr. Elliott Grant, CEO of Mineral, an Alphabet company, will discuss how the latest breakthroughs in artificial intelligence and perception are revolutionising agriculture. REAP is being held on Wednesday 6th November 2024 at the Newmarket Racecourses Conference Centre.

Elliott Grant, Mineral
Elliott Grant, Mineral

“Agriculture is at a crossroads,” Grant said. “We need to start asking the ‘why’ questions and challenging the assumptions that have guided our farming practices for centuries. Recent breakthroughs in AI are giving us the tools to revolutionise the way we grow food, and it’s only just the beginning.”

Mineral’s platform and tools gather, organise, and analyse massive amounts of data to provide insights into the relationship between crop genetics, environmental effects, and management practices on the farm. Grant believes that this information has the potential to create new paradigms for sustainable agriculture.

“We’re at the cusp of a new era in agriculture,” Grant said. “With the help of AI, we can begin to build farms that are more resilient to climate change and more efficient in their use of resources. The future of farming is bright, and I’m excited to be a part of it.”

In addition to his keynote address, Grant will participate in a panel discussion on the future of agriculture and a farmer breakfast on the morning of 6th November.

Mineral is an Alphabet company that develops artificial intelligence and perception technologies to help farmers make better decisions. The company’s platform and tools gather, organise, and analyse massive amounts of data to provide insights into the relationship between crop genetics, environmental effects, and management practices on the farm.


REAP 2024

Wednesday 6 November 2024, 9:30 am – 6:30 pm
Rowley Mile Conference Centre, Newmarket

Global agriculture has evolved into a dual landscape of both vast scale and intricate detail, and technologies are now available for the precise management of individuals within the field, herd or flock.

But where is the tipping point in which the benefits from bespoke management of individual crops and livestock outweigh the broader, more general oversight of larger populations?

At REAP 2024, we’ll examine the practicality and return on investment of personalised care, the impact on yields and quality, and the implications for achieving net zero GHG emissions.

reapconference.co.uk

Greenstalk’s smart bird scarer overcomes the curse of the woodpigeon

Agri-TechE Article
Meet the Network
Agri-TechE

Woodpigeons are a major and increasing problem, with some growers estimating a 10-40% loss of yield in oil seed rape, peas, and brassicas*. Gas cannons are widely used to scare pests but are time-consuming to check and maintain. Now agri-tech company Greenstalk has developed a smart bird scarer that can be monitored remotely.

The curse of the woodpigeon

The smart bird scarer is fitted with a weather station and can be linked to a soil probe and other sensors, enabling it to transmit data over the internet. The farmer can then monitor all the information – and check the bird scarer is working as expected – via smartphone. It also uses ten times less gas, so is kinder to the environment.

David Aarons explains: “Getting machinery, devices and sensors to talk to each other over the internet enables farmers to manage their operations more efficiently and make data-driven decisions.”

The smart scarer was born out of a conversation with Jamie Lockhart, Managing Director at Frederick Hiam, looking at ways to add functionality to existing farm equipment and collect data from ‘things’ – such as tractors, sprayers, irrigation systems, water tanks and weighbridges.

Jamie Lockhart explains that he had a ‘wish list’ of improvements he wanted to make at Frederick Hiam’s main farm, Brandon Fields in Suffolk, including upgrading an old weighbridge to prevent it from needing to be replaced, and introducing monitoring sensors with various functions across the site.

Greenstalk first upgraded the farm’s WiFi with a 10GB (superfast) fibre connection across the entire site, and from this the project grew incrementally.

Jamie says: “Many farmers are nervous about investing in new technology, but Greenstalk’s Internet of Things approach makes existing machinery smarter and more efficient. It is something we can adapt to work with so many applications, which is what makes it so exciting.”

Jamie Lockhart and the gas gun
Jamie Lockhart (of Frederick Hiam) with the ‘gas gun’ project with Greenstalk

Greenstalk will be demonstrating how the Internet of Things can make legacy equipment smart in the Agri-TechE Innovation Hub at the Royal Norfolk Show 2024 on 26-27th June. The hub is sponsored by BBRO.


*ADHB Woodpigeon management strategies fact sheet 11

Innovation Hub 2024 at the Royal Norfolk Show

Agri-TechE Article
Agri-TechE

A robot firing light beams to kill weeds, a smart bird scarer, a novel way to reduce lamb loss, new tools in the fight against viruses, and alternative crops and water management for wetlands. These are just a few of the technologies and ideas being discussed in the Agri-TechE Innovation Hub at the Royal Norfolk Show (26 and 27th June 2024).

The hub is sponsored by BBRO and curated by the membership and networking organisation Agri-TechE.

Innovation Hub 2024

CLAWS robot accurately targets weeds with killer beam
– Earth Rover

Pulsed light is being used to spot and kill weeds in commercial trials of the Concentrated Light Autonomous Weeding and Scouting (CLAWS) robot from Earth Rover.

The lightweight robot uses 3D cameras and advanced AI to monitor the crop and identify and destroy weed seedlings at an early stage, without the need for chemicals.

Read more.


Raising a ‘wall of yellow’ against sugar beet diseases
– BBRO

There could be a yield loss of 30-50% for sugar beet growers this year due to a resurgence in Virus Yellows, a disease spread by peach potato aphids.

BBRO will be discussing alternatives to neonicotinoid seed treatments and showing a ‘Wall of Yellow’ to demonstrate advances in seed breeding.

Read more.


Reducing loss of lambs with genetic markers
– 3CR Bioscience

49 percent of lamb mortality occurs within the first 48 hours after birth, which is devastating for farmers and economically impactful. A new tool, developed by 3CR Bioscience, is making it easier for breeders to detect recessive gene variations that can be lethal when present in both parents.

Read more.


Smart water management for food and the environment
– Broads Authority

As a record-breaking wet winter follows one of the hottest summers, the Broads Authority says smart water management could provide solutions.

Water tables remain high, creating difficulty for some crops, but with appropriate planning, permissions, and investment, this excess could be used as a supply for the dry summer periods.

There will be a discussion of the FibreBroads project. Read more.


Creating next-generation insulation from wetland crop plants
– Ponda

Ponda is a biomaterials company developing novel textiles from truly regenerative fibres.

Its first product, BioPuff®, is a warm and naturally water-repellent alternative to feather and synthetic fillers. It is created by extracting fibres from plants, such as Typha, that are grown on regenerated wetlands.

Read more.


Smart scarer overcomes the curse of the woodpigeon
– Greenstalk

Woodpigeons cause a significant loss of yield. Gas cannons are widely used to scare pests but are time-consuming to check and maintain. Greenstalk has helped farming business Frederick Hiam Ltd to overcome this problem with a smart scarer that can be monitored remotely.

The Internet of Things solution enables data to be collected from tractors, sprayers, irrigation systems and water tanks and transmitted over the internet. This enables the farmer to monitor things in real-time via a smartphone and react quickly to problems.

Read more.

Jamie Lockhart and the gas gun
Jamie Lockhart (of Frederick Hiam) with the ‘gas gun’ project with Greenstalk

Harper Adams Adaney prep

Biodiversity net gain
– Harper Adams University

Harper Adams will be showing their work in paludiculture, biodiversity net gain, and sustainability focused agri-tech.

It is increasingly becoming possible for farmers to monetarise the ‘natural capital’ associated with their businesses. Harper Adams University is partnering with Cranfield University to looking at how advanced remote sensing and modelling could allow landowners to monetarise and manage both high and low water flows in a catchment. Read more.

In future a range of environmental services such as nutrient removal, flood mitigation, habitat creation or peat re-wetting will become an established enterprise on many farms. To achieve this requires good metrics to measure and manage these assets, such as those being developed by Harper Adams. Read more.


Genotyping solutions to achieve your goals faster, for less
– Eurofins AgriGenomics

Eurofins Agrigenomics is pleased to offer solutions for your breeding challenges, using genetic testing to enable you to reach your goals faster. Using state of the art technologies and mobile applications, they can help you shape your livestock for best meat or milk production, or your crop for greatest yield.


There is still a bit of space to squeeze in more exciting agri-tech so do contact us if you would like to participate.

Find out more about the Royal Norfolk Show 2024 – 26 and 27th June 2024, Norfolk Showground, Dereham Road, Norwich, NR5 0TT.

Ponda creating novel textiles from regen fibres

Agri-TechE Article
Meet the Network
Agri-TechE

Ponda is a biomaterials company developing novel textiles from truly regenerative fibres. It aims to connect the regeneration of some of our most precious ecosystems to the production of responsible materials for the textile industry.

Ponda partners with farmers and conservation groups to regenerate wetlands by cultivating Typha Latifolia, a native, shallow-water, rhizomatous perennial plant. Thriving in freshwater or slightly brackish marshes, Typha proves to be an ideal, low-maintenance crop for wetland restoration. Farming under these conditions is defined as paludiculture.

Ponda has patented a fibre extraction method to harness the seed head fibre, transforming it into a valuable insulation material for the textile industry.

Q Where did the idea for Ponda come from?

Ponda‘s origins lie in a thorough examination of materiality, addressing environmental challenges in the fashion industry. Much of the industry’s footprint originates from material choices at the beginning of the supply chain. We aimed to explore new fibres in this space. Moreover, brands and manufacturers are seeking novel, regenerative materials to replace existing, damaging textiles. Conversely, drained wetlands, often a consequence of conventional agriculture, now contribute to 5% of global CO2 emissions. These wetlands are amazing ecosystems that store twice the carbon of all trees combined and serve as habitats for 50% of all animal species. Our goal was to create a link between these worlds, where each side could benefit the other.

Our team comprises individuals united by a shared commitment to effecting positive change on a global scale. Originating from a Master’s course in Innovation Design Engineering, jointly offered by the Royal College of Art and Imperial College London, the founding team conceptualised an idea that was then turned into a company. We began as teammates and, over the years, developed a strong friendship.

Previously known as Saltyco, we underwent a rebranding process in the past year, emerging as Ponda. The name “Ponda” is derived from “Pond” and “Agriculture,” symbolising our focus on revitalising wetland ecosystems within farmed landscapes. Our regenerated wetland farms serve as expansive ponds brimming with biodiversity, fostering climate resilience across our environment.

Q. Why typha? Is a good substitute for something that is less environmentally friendly?

Typha was a natural choice for us due to its remarkable efficacy in wetland restoration. Our first product, BioPuff®, exemplifies this synergy between sustainable materials and environmental regeneration. Beyond providing warmth, BioPuff® actively contributes to enhancing biodiversity, capturing carbon, and fortifying the resilience of our industry. By significantly reducing reliance on conventional fillers, BioPuff® represents a leap forward in insulation technology. Its exceptional warmth, natural water repellency, and puffiness make it a great choice. Moreover, BioPuff® upholds ethical standards, being cruelty-free and fully traceable from plant to puffer. When compared to conventional materials, BioPuff® offers exceptional warmth, suitable for a wide range of temperatures, from chilly autumns to moderately cold winters.

Q. There is lots of clothing waste that could be recycled, and peatlands can be used for growing food – how would you justify the use of peatlands for clothing?

While textile recycling is a positive step in reducing waste, it’s insufficient to tackle our broader challenges. Issues like limited supply, quality concerns, and the environmental impact of recycling highlight the need for more comprehensive solutions. Regenerative practices such as paludiculture are crucial for advancing sustainability objectives.

When considering the use of peatlands for clothing production rather than food production, it’s essential to strike a balance that prioritises sustainability and resource efficiency. By repurposing peatlands for textiles, we can diversify land use, alleviating pressure on traditional agricultural areas and strengthening the resilience of food systems. Nevertheless, careful planning is essential to ensure that clothing production does not compromise food security or degrade vital ecosystems

Moreover, the cultivation of Typha Latifolia emerges as a key strategy for peatland restoration. Typha’s unique ability to absorb nutrients from water addresses growing concerns about water quality, making it an invaluable asset in ecosystem management. This sustainable solution not only sequesters carbon and supports biodiversity but also sustains farmers’ livelihoods through paludiculture practices.

Q. What are you wanting to achieve at the Royal Norfolk Show – if farmers are interested in growing typha what are the next steps?

The outcome of our exhibition aims to raise awareness about regenerative agriculture practices and their beneficial effects on modern farming. Through our exhibition, we strive to enlighten not just the public but also policymakers about the potential of regenerative methods in shaping the future of UK agriculture. Moreover, we aim to actively involve farmers, igniting their curiosity in Paludiculture techniques during the event. Our ultimate aim is to cultivate partnerships with interested farmers after the show, facilitating the exploration and adoption of Typha cultivation and other Paludiculture initiatives.

The Ponda team

Ponda will be exhibiting in the Agri-TechE Innovation Hub at the Royal Norfolk Show 2024 on 26-27th June. The hub is sponsored by BBRO.

Harper Adams is supporting farmers monetarise natural capital

Agri-TechE Article
Meet the Network
Agri-TechE

It is increasingly becoming possible for farmers to monetarise the ‘natural capital’ associated with their businesses. Harper Adams University is focused on the tools, relationships and skills to develop the monetarisation of a range of environmental services.

Since April 2024, it has become compulsory, with only a few exceptions, for developers of residential and commercial projects to enhance biodiversity by at least ten percent – already some local authorities have increased this to 20%. This Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) is a measurable improvement for wildlife, and it can be achieved either on-site, offset, or through purchasing statutory ‘Biodiversity Credits’ that will be used to create habitat projects in the future.

Every development project will need a BNG plan to gain approval, but the calculations are complex. Harper Adams University is working with Legacy Habitat Banks to develop the tools and approaches needed to support calculations of BNG as well as to build ecological skills in specialists and other adjacent professional roles to ensure the opportunities that BNG offers are optimised both financially and environmentally.

The UK Habitat Classification is the official description and grading of habitats and feeds into the statutory Biodiversity Metric, the standard method of baselining biodiversity. However, these are difficult for non-specialists to interpret.

Scott Kirby, Harper Adams University
Scott Kirby, Harper Adams University

Scott Kirby, Agriculture and Sustainability Consultant at Harper Adams, comments: “There are real opportunities emerging for landowners to develop alternative income streams through the provision of ecosystem services and public good. Some markets like BNG are underpinned by legislation and are developing rapidly. However, they need to establish a 30-year commitment with the developer that takes into account the opportunity cost of any alternative uses for that land.

“Other services such as Carbon sequestration lack the regulatory governance and are developing in a more complicated voluntary environment with a myriad of options.

“At Harper Adams we are especially interested in horizon scanning for other ecosystem services that landowners may be able to develop. A recently established project partnering with Cranfield University is looking at how advanced remote sensing and modelling could allow landowners to monetarise and manage both high and low water flows in a catchment.

“We see a future where a range of environmental services such as nutrient removal, flood mitigation, habitat creation or peat re-wetting become an established enterprise on many farms.

“To achieve this requires good metrics to measure and manage these assets, such as those being developed by Harper Adams.”

Harper Adams University will be exhibiting in the Agri-TechE Innovation Hub at the Royal Norfolk Show 2024 on 26-27th June. The hub is sponsored by BBRO.

3CR Bioscience reduces loss of lambs through rapid ID of genetic markers

Agri-TechE Article
Meet the Network
Agri-TechE

49 percent of lamb mortality occurs within the first 48 hours following birth*, which is devastating for farmers and economically impactful. A new tool, developed by 3CR Bioscience, is making it easier for breeders to detect recessive gene variations that can be lethal when present in both parents.

Differences between individuals of the same species are known as traits and may result from particular sequences in the animals’ DNA. New tools developed by 3CR Bioscience for genotyping are making it easier for breeders to identify these sequence variants and select animals, or plants, with improved qualities and greater resilience to disease or environmental stress. This is key to increasing food security.

3CR Bioscience is a leader in PCR genotyping technology and has developed a patented range of reagents (PACE®) and tools that can accelerate many applications in plant and animal breeding. This includes marker-assisted breeding, pathogen detection, and gene editing, which can significantly reduce both time and costs for the breeder.

Dr Sarah Holme

Dr Sarah Holme of 3CR Bioscience explains: “DNA sequence variants called SNPs (Single Nucleotide Variants) act as useful biomarkers for breeders.

“3CR Bioscience offers a suite of productivity tools for SNP genotyping and has developed a patented range of PCR reagents (PACE®) for replicating the desired section of DNA for analysis.

“With these tools and reagents, breeders can quickly validate markers, implement genomic selection, and conduct marker-assisted selection, thereby identifying and selecting animals with desirable traits more rapidly.”

Overcoming loss of lambs

A recent project has used PACE PCR genotyping to reduce early loss of lambs in French dairy sheep**.

High mortality rates are attributable to a variety of genetic and environmental factors. Some recessive genomic variants are known to be lethal if they are present in both the ram and the ewe.

A team at INRAE in France used PACE PCR to identify these causal variants in multiple key genes. With this knowledge, it will become possible to improve the selection of rams and improve lamb survival rates.

Sarah continues: “The speed and accuracy of PACE genotyping facilitates the rapid analysis of large numbers of animals, this aids the understanding of genetic relationships for animal health as well as evolutionary patterns, and conservation efforts.”

3CR Bioscience is talking about SNP genotyping in the Agri-TechE Innovation Hub at the Royal Norfolk Show 2024 on 26-27th June. The hub is sponsored by BBRO.


*AHDB Reducing lamb losses for higher returns: projectblue.blob.core.windows.net/media/Default/About AHDB/Reducing Lamb Losses 2020.pdf

**Searching for homozygous haplotype deficiency in Manech Tête Rousse dairy sheep revealed a nonsense variant in the MMUT gene affecting newborn lamb viability. Ben Braiek et al Genetics Selection Evolution volume 56, Article number: 16 (2024)

Sustainability in Action ECIF Conference – The Future of Farming

ECIF
Agri-TechE

In April 2024, ECIF hosted its annual conference, this year titled ‘Sustainability in Action’. The conference featured presentations from industry leaders, a fun speed-dating session for networking, and a tour of the world-renowned Long Term Experiments at Rothamsted Research.

Designed to cater to recent graduates and early-career professionals from diverse backgrounds such as research, agronomy, engineering, and farming, the event aimed to equip attendees with insights, knowledge, and connections to drive sustainable practices in agriculture.

Gabby Hart, Customer Executive at Yagro, shares what she learned and what inspired at the ECIF Conference. Gabby has actively engaged in a number of ECIF activities that, including this blog, has earned her a Silver certificate of ECIF participation (the first we have awarded since the programme began in September 2023!).

Gabby’s take on the ECIF Conference

A brisk, damp day in April 2024 welcomed a group of early-career individuals to the Rothamsted Research site in Harpenden. We delved into the realms of sustainability in agriculture, shared our experiences and knowledge, and were invited to explore the well-renowned Rothamsted trials.

Keeping Carbon Neutral

We began the day with a variety of presentations from sustainability experts and pioneers in the industry. Charles Hesketh of the NFU spoke about their Net Zero strategy, aiming for net zero greenhouse gas emissions from the agricultural industry in England and Wales by 2040. In particular, they discussed their three pillar approach to achieve this: productivity improvement, farmland carbon storage, and bioeconomy-based measures.

We then heard from Megan Tresise at ADAS, who educated us on their YEN Zero network, and how they provide bespoke analysis for their net-zero community of growers who want guidance on how they can reduce their carbon emissions on farm. Next, Beatrice Guthrie from Holkham Farming Company informed us of their practices and how they use rotation strategies and soil health to improve their carbon footprint, highlighting the importance of figure-backed decision-making and using data as a tool for performance.

As someone with a keen interest in data, I found these talks captivating and inspired about the future of farming. I found myself considering how, as an industry, we all must unite in this movement towards sustainability, and we need to equip our farmers with as many tools as possible to guide them through this shift.

ECIF attendees at the Sustainability in Action ECIF Conference

The New Generation of Tech

James Miller at Earth Rover astounded us with their impressive tech, ‘CLAWS’ (Concentrated Light Autonomous Weeding & Scouting), which uses concentrated light to eliminate even chemically resistant weeds, without the use of herbicides or tilling. In turn, this improves soil health and makes the process far more efficient, as well as being free from greenhouse gas emissions.

Following this, Casey Woodward at AgriSound excited us with their unique sensor device, ‘Polly’, which monitors pollinators to help protect and enhance insect biodiversity, as well as providing bespoke reports for easy understanding. The concept of this new generation of tech is staggering, and it was intriguing to think about the endless limits of what is to come with advancements in AI and machine learning.

Meet & Mingle

Following an academic morning, we had the chance to connect with others, over lunch, in groups, and individually. As someone who is fascinated by learning, it was eye-opening to hear about so many backgrounds, topics, discoveries, projects, all in one industry. I was grateful to get a glimpse of different things occurring throughout the farming industry, as without this, I would have never known the scope outside my bubble.

Meeting so many like-minded people and broadening my horizons was a great opportunity to build connections in the agricultural world. Coming from a strictly customer service background, speaking to others reassured me that I can become an expert in anything!

ECIF attendees networking at the Sustainability in Action ECIF Conference

The Oldest Agronomic Trials in the World

We were very fortunate to be granted a tour of the Broadbalk and Park Grass long-term experiments, which have been conducted since the mid-1800s. Despite the bitter weather, we waded through the fields, led by knowledgeable individuals working on the site, who provided us with a fountain of expertise on the trials.

I found it astonishing that these experiments have continued more or less as originally planned, with minor tweaks only being made to ensure they remain relevant and that the most appropriate methods are being applied. I felt privileged to be able to visit and indulge in information about such a famed research site.

ECIF attendees at the Sustainability in Action ECIF Conference - at Rothamsted
Sustainability in Action ECIF Conference - at Rothamsted

The Early-Career Innovators’ Forum (ECIF) is a platform uniting early career individuals passionate about agricultural innovation.

Join the ECIF Programme to enhance your knowledge and network in agriculture, and to attend free activities, including research, farm and industry visits, an annual conference, and professional skills webinars. Explore more about ECIF and how to join here.

Call for start-ups as Tesco Agri T-Jam competition returns

Agri-TechE Article
Funding Finder
Agri-TechE

Introductions to Tesco’s supplier network

The competition is held in partnership with Leading Edge Only (LEO), the global innovation marketplace, and start-ups will be given fast-track introductions to Tesco’s supplier network. The overall winner will earn a potential trial with one of Tesco’s supply chain partners, as well as receive feedback and mentoring by Tesco’s Sustainable Agriculture & Fisheries team.

Speak at REAP 2024: The Agri-Tech Balancing Act – Optimising One or Managing Many?”

We are also delighted to offer Agri-TechE membership to the winner, alongside the opportunity to speak at our 2024 REAP conference on 6th November. REAP brings together people from different areas of the agritech and science industries to turn challenges into business opportunities and facilitate mutually beneficial collaboration.

Peter Illman, Sustainable Agriculture Manager at Tesco, was a speaker on the Supply Chain Panel at REAP 2023. He says: “I was impressed with the REAP conference. It had high quality stands and presentations, and its intimate scale allows for more effective interactions, as compared with big global events.”

Peter Illman speaking as part of the Supply Chain session at REAP 2023
Peter Illman speaking as part of the Supply Chain session at REAP 2023

Dr Belinda Clarke, Director of Agri-TechE, says: “REAP has a strong track record of introducing early-stage companies and technologies to a receptive and supportive environment of potential end-users and supply chain partners.

“We were delighted to be approached by Tesco to offer the winner of the T-Jam pitch event a speaking slot at REAP. Time and again we have seen the benefit for early-stage ventures of engaging meaningfully with agri-food supply chain partners to help inform the development and impact of their innovation.

“Understanding how their solution aligns with real-world needs is invaluable, and the benefit of working with Tesco is clear. We can’t wait to see the cohort of 2024!”

The 2023 Tesco T-Jam was won by Agri-TechE member NatureMetrics.

Entries close Sunday 30th June 2024. Full details, entry form and criteria can be found at leadingedgeonly.com/organisation/tesco/tesco-agri-t-jam-2024.  

Following the application and selection process, up to ten start-ups will be selected to present their innovations at the T-Jam pitch day in September.

Tesco is looking for technologies that address the following priority areas:

  • Reducing GHG emissions
  • Improving soil health and resilience
  • Supporting biodiversity
  • Improving water quality and water use
  • Responsible reduction in chemical inputs such as pesticides
  • Reducing agricultural and food waste
  • Reducing crop losses
  • Improving animal health and welfare, reducing use of antibiotics
  • Rapid disease diagnostics

Groundswell 2024 – see us there

Agri-TechE Article
Agri-TechE

Groundswell 2024 will demonstrate just how far farming has changed. The Regenerative Agriculture Festival brings together farmers, environmental organisations and others in a productive conversation about sustainable agriculture.

Similar in format to a music festival, the event has many different stages, which are just as likely to feature commercial livestock farmers sharing their migration to Net Zero as evangelistic rewilders!

The event provides a forum to learn about the theory and practical applications of regenerative farming and is hosted by the Cherry family on their farm in Hertfordshire. John and Paul Cherry have farmed for over thirty years, converting their mixed farm to a no-till system in 2010. 

Groundswell 2024 takes place at Lannock Manor Farm, Hertfordshire, SG4 7EE, on the 26th & 27th of June 2024. Tickets go on sale at 10am on 22nd April 2024.

Agri-TechE will have a stand at the festival – number MS 3 which is in the Indoor Marquee Stands East, opposite the food court – and are taking part in the BASIS Knowledge Trail. Visit our stand and fill out a fun questionnaire to collect points! Many of our members will also have a presence – full details below. We look forward to seeing you there.

Groundswell

ADAS: one of the UK’s largest independent providers of agricultural and environmental applied/strategic research and consultancy.

AF Group: one of the UK’s largest agricultural purchasing co-operatives working with thousands of farmers across the UK.

AHDB: a statutory levy board, funded by farmers, growers and others in the supply chain and managed as an independent organisation.

AngloAmerican: producing a low chloride, multi-nutrient fertiliser suitable for organic use that can boost crop yields and aid more sustainable farming.

Barenbrug: a leading grass breeder, producing more than 3,000 tonnes of UK grown grass seed each year, distributed to both amenity and agricultural markets through an efficient network.

Barenbrug at Groundswell 2023
Barenbrug at Groundswell 2023

Birkett Long: specialist lawyers, patent attorneys, IFAs and HR advisers offering the full range of advice.

Brown & Co: leading provider of agency, professional and consultancy services across rural, commercial and residential property, agriculture and the environment.

Burleigh Dodds Science Publishing: providers of a database of curated scientific content to empower the agricultural community to build a sustainable future.

Cranfield University: recognised worldwide by industry, government and academe for its research and teaching in food biosciences, soil, digital and sustainability.

Eurofins AgriGenomics: a genomics services supplier with a wide range of tailored, high throughput genotyping solutions.

FramFarmers: providers of a purchasing, grain marketing and administrative function for 1,250 farming businesses across the UK, acting as an extension to individual farm offices.

Future Biogas: the largest producer of biomethane in the UK. It aims to design and operate the next generation of Anaerobic Digestion plants delivering Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) while helping to decarbonise UK farming.

Hutchinsons: a leading agronomy company with over 200 arable and horticultural agronomists nationwide, providing growers with the highest standards of agronomic advice and an unrivalled range of services.

Map of Ag: the company’s Pure Farming data permissioning platform allows farms and industry to find, access, interoperate, re-use and above all control how and where their data is used.

NIAB: a major international centre for plant research, crop evaluation and agronomy – a unique national resource, with nearly 100 years of experience and an internationally recognised reputation for independence, innovation and integrity.

NIAB at Groundswell 2023
NIAB at Groundswell 2023

PES Technologies: soil health measurement tool provides biological, chemical and physical soil health indicators, including microbial biomass and soil organic matter content, in-field in five minutes, straight to your mobile phone.

Ponda: developing next-generation biomaterials from paludiculture crop typha, with the aim of connecting the creation of healthier textiles for the fashion industry to the urgent need for carbon locking land restoration.

Rothamsted Research: the longest running agricultural research station in the world, providing cutting-edge science and innovation for nearly 170 years.

Savills: a real estate services provider with an international network of more than 600 offices and associates, offering a broad range of specialist advisory, management and transactional services to clients all over the world.

Sentry: one of the largest national farming companies in the UK, with 20,000 hectares of land under cultivation for clients throughout the country, annually growing over 400,000 tonnes of local produce.

SRUC: Scotland’s Rural College provides education, research, and consultancy (through SAC Consulting) to create a natural economy fuelled by responsible use of the world’s natural resources.

Timac Agro: a specialist in plant and animal nutrition with extensive expertise in crop nutrition, soil conditioning and fertiliser efficiency, offering a specific range of fertilisers adapted to local soils and farmers’ needs.

University of Essex: bringing expertise in both plant science and and automation, giving businesses access to world-leading research, unlocking funding opportunities, and providing in-depth, evidence-led business advice.

University of Reading: provides world-class expertise and facilities in agri-tech, encompassing many disciplines across the whole University, with specialisms in crop and livestock science, sustainable land management, international development, and applied economics and marking.

Yagro: creator of a platform and tools with the aim of driving insight and productivity by making cutting edge data and analytics capability broadly available across the agricultural sector.

Groundswell 2022 [credit Groundswell]
Groundswell 2022 [credit: Groundswell]

Get ready for Agri-TechE’s Connections Week 2024!

Agri-TechE Article
Agri-TechE
Agri-TechE's Connections Week 2024 graphic

Do you want to improve your networking? In Connections Week we will be sharing techniques that work and helping you to make the contacts you need!

While we can all recognise the importance of networking, it can also be a daunting experience. According to recent studies, approximately 85% of professionals leverage networking to advance their careers.

However, networking can feel intimidating, and even for a seasoned communicator it can be really hard to know who are the experts in your area of agriculture, who can support your business and professional journey, who you should meet, and how!

That’s where we come in… At Agri-TechE, helping you connect with others in the industry, build your network, and enhance your business is a key part of our mission. Over the years, we’ve used lots of different tools to achieve this – from speed networking, to Give-Get Exchanges and specific topic-focused meetings.

Connections Week 6-10 May 2024

We are dedicating a whole week to highlighting the importance of networking, addressing the challenges you may face, providing tools to enhance your networking skills and opportunities for you to connect with the right people.

Our Goal:

We want to make networking more accessible and less intimidating, empowering you to build meaningful relationships that drive your professional success.

Whether you’re seeking advice, looking for collaboration opportunities, or simply want to expand your professional circle, Connections Week is the perfect opportunity to sharpen your networking skills and unlock new opportunities.

For example:

  • Are you a farmer seeking out some specific technology? Or maybe you have a challenge to solve and you don’t know where to start? Recently we had an innovative farmer seeking a cost effective, reliable remote sensor developer to give insights into the progress of their composting trials – connection duly made and conversations underway!
  • Are you an agronomist interested in technologies that can help your clients with early disease forecasting and prevention? One of our agronomy members was after technologies that can help detect crop pests early, when symptoms aren’t yet visible.
  • Are you a tech developer looking to find an agricultural application for your innovation? We introduced a technology company to a consortium looking to build a digital twin of a specific catchment area to manage natural capital and agriculture.
  • Are you a researcher wondering how to commercialise your R&D and are interested in talking to possible end-users who might want to host trials or incorporate your tech on farm? Researchers have received valuable feedback from our group of innovative farmers through our Farmer First Innovation Group (FFIG) meetings.

Get Involved:

Connections Week is all about supporting you in making new connections and unlocking opportunities in agriculture. Whether you have an idea but don’t know what to do next or who to meet, or if you’re simply feeling unsure about networking, we’re here to help.

  • Have a chat with us in our dedicated connections drop-in sessions for members – we can direct you to the relevant people, introduce you to others in the community or talk about what it is you might need.
  • Head over to our social media channels for tips and activities throughout the week.
  • Or ping us an email to let us know how we can help you!


Agri-TechE's Connections Week 2024 photo montage