It is time for change – acting fast and making minimal interventions can reduce the use of inputs such as water, fertiliser or plant protection, and can also enhance animal welfare. The Innovation Hub at the Royal Norfolk Show (27-28 June 2018) is looking at ways that technology can provide alerts to farmers, from monitoring livestock behaviour to detecting disease, and how new knowledge about genomics can be used to accelerate plant-breeding programmes and improve the resilience and nutritional value of our food crops.
The Hub, sponsored by the British Beet Research Organisation (BBRO), brings together members of Agri-Tech East – a diverse group of technologists, farmers and researchers – to provide an insight into how new thinking is helping to overcome the challenges of feeding more with less.
Electronic sugar beet measures harvester damage – by monitoring growth patterns, disease pressures and crop recovery, BBRO is helping sugar beet growers build upon the astonishing yields of 2017-18. A highlight at the show is the announcement of the winner of the Beet Yield Challenge at 14:00 on the 27th June.
From flight to fight in 24 hours – Hummingbird collates and analyses aerial imaging from satellites, drones and fixed wing aeroplanes, alerting farmers to variations in crop development, nitrogen deficiency or disease risk. It will demonstrate how this is enabling action before there is an impact on the crop.
Crops have feelings too – we get stressed when conditions are too hot or cold, but how about your crop? 30MHz has developed a smart sensing toolkit that captures the microclimate at crop level. This information is crucial for the decision making to enable timely delivery of the right nutrients and irrigation and for disease prevention.
Soil loss no longer a dirty secret – underground activity of microbes and earthworms is vital for soil health and resilience to adverse weather. NIAB will showcase traditional and novel ways to enhance the insurgence of these activists.
Proven disease free in hours – regular monitoring of cattle health, especially before transport, could be a powerful way to prevent the spread of bovine TB and Johne’s disease. PBD Biotech has created a rapid, precise test that can be used to identify both of these economically important diseases from a simple blood test.
System to follow the herd – the Movetech Telemetry technology, developed by University of East Anglia scientist Dr Aldina Franco, tracks and monitors normal animal behaviour so farmers and animal conservationists can build patterns and identify abnormal behaviour. See it in action at the Hub.
Robot eye sees more – walking the fields to see the progress of their work is now in the past for breeders with the aid of computer vision. Earlham Institute will show how its technologies CropQuant, SeedGerm and AirSurf are utilising state-of-the-art computer vision, image analysis and machine learning to aid plant breeding.
Better spuds for year-round chips – crisps and chips are eaten 24/7 but the potato has a fixed growing season and it is highly vulnerable to late blight, which can decimate the crop in a few weeks of cloudy, wet weather. The Sainsbury Laboratory is looking at wild relatives of our humble spud to discover new sources of disease resistance to protect the crop.
Eat yourself well – all living things need fuel, and both humans and animals get their fuel from plants. The John Innes Centre is working to understand how plants, such as wheat, use, store and produce nutrients. Game-changers include: a variety of wheat that is bio-fortified with iron (1 billion people suffer from iron deficiency worldwide); a purple tomato that boosts the nutrients in your pizza topping; and a resistant starch that could help tackle diabetes.
More information about the Royal Norfolk Show.