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Beyond the comfort zone – REAP 2023 report captures the vibrancy of the day

Agri-TechE Article
Agri-TechE

“2023 has been quite a year in the farming industry,” observed John Barrett, Director of Sentry, and Chair of the Agri-TechE Stakeholder Group, as he opened the REAP Conference. “We started the year with wheat prices at a record high and have finished with wheat prices falling and crop input costs seemingly out of control.

“Such is the rollercoaster of farming, but our challenge is to try and take back some of that control and reduce those costs, by adapting our businesses and learning from others. This is very much the ethos of REAP.”

Rapid change has been a feature of the last five years, with far-reaching impacts on global agriculture and horticulture. The mood at the REAP conference was surprisingly buoyant as the agri-tech ecosystem came together to discuss emerging technology, science, and on-farm practices, that are providing opportunities for optimism.

We have attempted to capture some of that positivity in the REAP 2023 report.

REAP report 2023
Download REAP Report here or click image above

REAP Conference 2024 will take place on Wednesday 6 November in Newmarket.

Networking is a big element of REAP – it provides an opportunity for farmers and other end users to talk directly to technology developers and for others in the community to create collaborations and partnerships. Here are some comments from attendees and exhibitors:

“An outstanding REAP, consistent with the high standard of every Agri-TechE event. We were very happy to be part of the Exhibition and to engage with so many new people.

“The Innovation for a Sustainable Supply Chain was extremely valuable, as was the excellent Farmer Insights Panel and as always great to see new agritech companies in the Start-Up Showcase.”


“I had a great time at REAP, it was my first time attending the conference and was so pleased I was able to make it after lots of recommendations from my colleagues. I think the day was incredibly well organised and I really enjoyed the stalls whilst networking.”


I thoroughly enjoyed the REAP conference. I thought the content was very good quality, the structure of the day was good, with each session slightly different; I made a number of good links I shall be following up. Plenty of interesting people to talk with.


Agri-TechE Director Dr Belinda Clarke closed the conference by looking forward to the coming year, when the membership organisation celebrates its tenth year.

“Over the last ten years, significant developments in technology and changes in economics have increased the pull for more automation, changing the dynamics in cost-benefit analysis.

“As a result we are seeing rapid adoption of new technologies and approaches.

“The membership is also changing, becoming increasingly diverse and international, creating a supportive environment in which to scale and expand.

“We have had a record number of new members this year, and over the coming months we will be looking ahead and harnessing the thinking of the membership about the desired direction of travel.

“As the experiences of recent years have taught us, in order to build a productive, profitable, and sustainable agri-food industry, we must move away from the comfort zone and become open to the new opportunities that exist when we ‘stretch’.

“I am excited about the journey ahead.”

Rothamsted Enterprises
DIGITLab REAP 2023 sponsor
New Anglia LEP REAP 2023 Sponsor
RNAA - REAP sponsor
JA Kemp REAP 2023 sponsor
REAP 2023 logo

Global market for ‘measure to manage’ technology co-developed with farmers

Agri-TechE Article
Agri-TechE

Many of the discussions at REAP evolve into collaborative projects and initiatives. In his welcome, Sentry Farms Director, John Barrett, Chair of the Agri-TechE stakeholder committee, described how his parsnips were cultivated this year by a robot, following a demonstration of the equipment at the conference in 2022.

He was followed by the keynotes: Professor Gideon Henderson, Chief Scientific Adviser for Defra, and David Exwood, livestock farmer and NFU Vice-President, who had previously met farmers over breakfast at the start of the day.

‘Measure to manage’ is vital for both corporates and farmers, and there is a global market opportunity if UK agri-tech can provide improved metrics for monitoring environmental factors.

Professor Gideon Henderson outlined the global challenge, the UK situation, and the investment in science and innovation that is helping to address these challenges. He said:

“Improved measurement and monitoring will enhance the data-driven management of soil and plant health. The second call for the Defra-UKRI Innovation in Environmental Monitoring Programme is planned for this winter and will be a business-led opportunity to support the development of new sensing systems and monitoring capabilities.

“As the science and technologies presented at REAP today have shown, there is a wealth of innovation in agri-tech. This funding opportunity from Defra and Innovate UK, which looks to improve monitoring of biodiversity, greenhouse gas emissions, soil health, and water quality across sectors, will help to catalyse the co-development of the farm-ready solutions that are so urgently needed.”

Read more from Gideon here.

In response, David Exwood outlined how the farming community was rising to the challenge. In his keynote address, he said that although farmers have been considered the problem for many years: “We are starting to turn a corner where we are part of the solution. For example, precision livestock production will enable us to improve the consistency of the delivered product while reducing waste in the system. There is also potential to create a by-product to replace inorganic fertilisers and generate a biofuel.”

Read more from David here.

A further driver for innovation is new legislation that came into force this year. It requires larger organisations within the agri-food sector (and others) to show how they are measuring and reducing their Scope 3 greenhouse gas emissions, in line with the goals of the international Paris Agreement.

This is creating a new dialogue around regenerative farming, and for the first time this year REAP featured a Supply Chain Panel of sustainability managers from B-Hive Innovations, Diageo and Tesco. They discussed creating new collaborations within the agri-food sector around a common need to reduce negative environmental impacts whilst improving food security.

Read more about the Supply Chain Panel here.

The farmers’ perspective is represented throughout REAP. The day began with the Farmer Breakfast and concluded with the Farmer Panel, ensuring their input was integral from start to finish. The Farmer Panel provided a summing-up and a discussion of some of the key messages from the conference, and featured farmers Andrew Pitts, Heather Oldfield, James Wright and Tom Clarke.

Read more about the Farmers Panel here.

James Green Group Director of Agriculture at G’s, took the farmer’s perspective when he discussed new research and emerging science with researchers in the Emerging Agri-Tech panel. This session acts as a bridge between research and on-farm application and provides a chance to connect with researchers dedicated to addressing real-world challenges and goals of farmers.

Read more about the Emerging Agri-Tech session here.

Of course, REAP featured the always-popular Start-Up Showcase, which has been the launch pad for many early stage companies – you can read more about the companies featured in 2023 on this post.

Dr Belinda Clarke, Director of Agri-TechE, concluded the conference with a big thank you to everyone that has contributed to the growth of the vibrant agri-tech ecosystem and the success the 10th REAP, including the speakers, panellists, exhibitors, and of course to everyone who attended and brought their unique experiences to the discussions and networking.

And also – very importantly – to the sponsors and supporters who enable REAP to happen.

Rothamsted Enterprises
DIGITLab REAP 2023 sponsor
New Anglia LEP REAP 2023 Sponsor
RNAA - REAP sponsor
JA Kemp REAP 2023 sponsor

REAP 2023 logo

REAP Conference 2023:
Adaptation Through Innovation; Beyond the Comfort Zone

Wednesday 8th November, 9:30 am – 6:30 pm
Rowley Mile Conference Centre, Newmarket

Surviving and thriving under increasingly extreme and unpredictable challenges is the theme of the 2023 REAP conference. To build a productive, profitable and sustainable agri-food industry, we must move away from the comfort zone and become open to the new opportunities that exist when we ‘stretch’.  Be a part of that future – bring yourself and your ideas to REAP.

reapconference.co.uk

ATW23: Extreme events driving innovation in agri-tech, REAP conference reveals

Agri-TechE Article
Agri-TechE

“Extreme events over recent years have brought the recognition that if you want to stay in business, you need to be open to change. All the companies in this year’s REAP Start-Up Showcase were addressing a real-world problem that is becoming more urgent – but they are also viewing the challenge through a different lens, and this brings hope,” says Dr Belinda Clarke, Director of Agri-TechE.

She comments that it was noticeable this year that farmers are working closely with innovators to co-develop farm-ready technologies: “The rising cost of labour and inputs based on fossil fuels are driving innovations that will reshape the sector.”

The Start-Up Showcase included innovations for: benchmarking progress towards sustainability metrics; improving soil health through real-time monitoring of soil nitrogen and biological activity; increasing the immune response of plants to pathogens; smart automation for asparagus farmers; support for precision livestock production; and a new high-value crop for vertical farms.

REAP Start-Up Showcase 2023
Nicole Sadd (Rothamsted Enterprises) (centre) with the presenters from the REAP 2023 Start-Up Showcase (l-r): Robyn Sands (Autopickr), Nima Eskandari (Agtelligence), Martin Stocks (HotHouse Therapeutics), Tony Miller (PlentySense), Matthew Dobbs (HerdVision) and Jim Bailey (PES Technology) (not pictured is Cian Duggan from Resurrect Bio, who appeared via video)

The REAP 2023 Start-up Showcase line-up featured:

Agtelligence to provide financial institutes with a ‘sustainability rating’ for arable land

Providing evidence of best environmental practice ‘when the computer decides’ is currently difficult to do for farmers. A new tool, ‘FarmScore’ from Agtelligence, aims to distil this complexity into a simple score that can be used by banks, financial institutes, and funding agencies to quickly benchmark progress against sustainability metrics.

Read more.

Agtelligence - REAP 2023 Start-Up feat

PlentySense offers real-time monitoring of soil nitrogen availability under growing crops

Around 50 percent of nitrogen (N) applied to crops is not taken up and can leach into the environment. Now sensors developed by PlentySense, a spinout from John Innes Centre, can measure the amount of nitrate taken up by the crop and the reserve available in the soil, thereby optimising fertiliser usage.

Read more.

PlentySense REAP 2023 Start-Up feat real-time monitoring of soil nitrogen

PES Technologies uses an electronic nose to measure biological soil health

An electronic nose to sniff out soil health that will deliver results to a farmer’s phone in five minutes is being developed by PES Technologies. The company is able to create an aroma fingerprint from gas released by microbes in the soil. These organisms are essential for breaking down organic matter and making nutrients available to plants, but current biological lab tests are expensive and take ten weeks to provide results.

Read more.

PES Technologies - REAP 2023 Start-Up feat

Resurrect Bio changes the code to unlock plant defences

Plants have a sophisticated immune system that has co-evolved as a defence against pathogens, but it may be lying inactive in many crop varieties. Now Resurrect Bio, a spin-out from The Sainsbury Laboratory (TSL) in Norwich, has found a way to re-engineer the disease response mechanism in plants to restore resilience.

Read more.

Resurrect Bio - REAP 2023 Start-Up feat

Autopickr presents Gus, its adaptable asparagus harvester

“Shortage of labour is forcing smaller asparagus growers out of business, so they ask us three things: how much does our robot harvester cost, does it work and is it reliable?” explains Robyn Sands, Co-founder and CEO of Autopickr, the developer of Gus, an affordable, robust robot for field and undercover operations. Designed to solve a major challenge for the industry, it also offers potential to extend the harvesting season and shelf-life of this high-value crop.

Read more.

Autopickr - REAP 2023 Start-Up feat

HerdVision brings body condition scoring to DairyComp

HerdVision, a robust camera system for objective body condition and mobility scoring, will soon be integrated into the dairy management software system DairyComp, enabling real-time health updates each time a cow exits the parlour, and supporting precision livestock production.

Read more.

HerdVision - REAP 2023 Start-Up feat

HotHouse Therapeutics uses a plant factory to mass produce rare medicinal drugs

Some of the most potent drugs known to mankind are produced by plants, but issues such as accessing source material from rare plants and modifying the complex chemicals have meant they have been largely abandoned by the drug discovery industry. This challenge has been overcome by HotHouse Therapeutics’ technology, which enables any naturally occurring medicinal compound to be reproduced by a host plant, creating a high value crop for Controlled Environment Agriculture.

Read more.


REAP 2023 logo

REAP Conference 2023:
Adaptation Through Innovation; Beyond the Comfort Zone

Wednesday 8th November, 9:30 am – 6:30 pm
Rowley Mile Conference Centre, Newmarket

Surviving and thriving under increasingly extreme and unpredictable challenges is the theme of the 2023 REAP conference. To build a productive, profitable and sustainable agri-food industry, we must move away from the comfort zone and become open to the new opportunities that exist when we ‘stretch’.  Be a part of that future – bring yourself and your ideas to REAP.

reapconference.co.uk

PES Technologies – REAP 2023 Start-Up Showcase

Meet the Network
Agri-TechE

PES Technologies – sniffing out biological soil health in-field with results in five minutes

An electronic nose to sniff out soil health that will deliver results to a farmer’s phone in five minutes is being developed by PES Technologies. The company is able to create an aroma fingerprint from gas released by microbes in the soil. These organisms are essential for breaking down organic matter and making nutrients available to plants, but current biological lab tests are expensive and take ten weeks to provide results.

Jim Bailey, CTO and Co-founder of PES Technologies, says: “From REAP, we are interested in meeting end-users – particularly agronomists – as well as collaborators.

Our electronic nose could potentially be trained on more indicators than the ones that we will offer on launch, and we are keen to explore what people are looking for.

We are happy to talk to companies that would want to fund a machine learning dataset for their own market niche and then utilise our hardware and machine learning support in that market.”

Andrej Porovic, CEO and co-Founder of PES Technologies, said, “This funding builds on the successful commercial trials PES carried out with large agronomy companies and farm businesses in 2022. It enables PES Technologies to complete product development, power product launch in 2024 and hire the key commercial and administrative staff needed to turn our potential into a commercial success story.”

Find out more at pestechnologies.com.

Start-Up Showcase 2023 - Jim Bailey, PES Technology (web)
Jim Bailey, PES Technology, presenting in the REAP Start-Up Showcase 2023
In-field use (web)
PES Technologies' 'electronic nose' (web)

REAP 2023 logo

REAP Conference 2023:
Adaptation Through Innovation; Beyond the Comfort Zone

Wednesday 8th November, 9:30 am – 6:30 pm
Rowley Mile Conference Centre, Newmarket

Surviving and thriving under increasingly extreme and unpredictable challenges is the theme of the 2023 REAP conference. To build a productive, profitable and sustainable agri-food industry, we must move away from the comfort zone and become open to the new opportunities that exist when we ‘stretch’.  Be a part of that future – bring yourself and your ideas to REAP.

reapconference.co.uk

HerdVision – REAP 2023 Start-Up Showcase

Meet the Network
Agri-TechE

HerdVision brings body condition scoring to DairyComp

HerdVision, a robust camera system for objective body condition and mobility scoring, will soon be integrated into the dairy management software system DairyComp, enabling real-time health updates each time a cow exits the parlour.

Matthew Dobbs, co-founder of AgSenze and HerdVision says: “Body condition scoring is a key indicator of health and fertility in dairy cows, and it is often based on subjective visual observations.

“With HerdVision the camera system can be retrofitted on the parlour or cattle race and provides 2D and 3D imaging of the animal. This enables body condition to be scored and lameness or other injuries to be detected.

“The information is synced automatically with the herd management system and made available through an app. This enables timely interventions, such as a feed supplement or health inspection, to catch a potential problem early.”

HerdVision has recently gained Innovate UK funding to further develop its body weight algorithm, and will be able to assess the bodyweight of calves through to adult animals, simply by passing under the camera.

The company has just closed a Series A funding round with strategic and institutional investors and is looking for further commercial partnerships and end users.

Find out more at https://herd.vision.

Start-Up Showcase 2023 - Matthew Dobbs, HerdVision (web)
Matthew Dobbs, HerdVision, presenting in the REAP Start-Up Showcase 2023
HerdVision Screenshot
HerdVision in use

REAP 2023 logo

REAP Conference 2023:
Adaptation Through Innovation; Beyond the Comfort Zone

Wednesday 8th November, 9:30 am – 6:30 pm
Rowley Mile Conference Centre, Newmarket

Surviving and thriving under increasingly extreme and unpredictable challenges is the theme of the 2023 REAP conference. To build a productive, profitable and sustainable agri-food industry, we must move away from the comfort zone and become open to the new opportunities that exist when we ‘stretch’.  Be a part of that future – bring yourself and your ideas to REAP.

reapconference.co.uk

Autopickr – REAP 2023 Start-Up Showcase

Meet the Network
Agri-TechE

Autopickr presents Gus, its adaptable asparagus harvester, at REAP

“Shortage of labour is forcing smaller asparagus growers out of business, so they ask us three things: how much does our robot harvester cost, does it work and is it reliable?” explains Robyn Sands, Co-founder and CEO of Autopickr, the developer of Gus, an affordable, robust robot for field and undercover operations. Designed to solve a major challenge for the industry, it also offers potential to extend the harvesting season and shelf-life of this high-value crop.

Robyn is looking forward to meeting other agri-tech start-ups and potential end-users at REAP. She says: “We are very open to collaboration, as we have also designed a rugged, farm-proof and low-cost farm vehicle to carry our technology around – and this is attracting the interest of other early-stage companies. It would be possible to repurpose this technology for other equipment.

“We are always interested in feedback from end-users, particularly now as we approach a final commercial product, and of course meeting new investors is also useful as we are starting to prepare for our seed raise in February.”

Find out more at autopickr.com

Start-Up Showcase 2023 - Robyn Sands, Autopickr (web)
Robyn Sands, Autopickr, presenting in the REAP Start-Up Showcase 2023
GUS early Version
GUS in the field

REAP 2023 logo

REAP Conference 2023:
Adaptation Through Innovation; Beyond the Comfort Zone

Wednesday 8th November, 9:30 am – 6:30 pm
Rowley Mile Conference Centre, Newmarket

Surviving and thriving under increasingly extreme and unpredictable challenges is the theme of the 2023 REAP conference. To build a productive, profitable and sustainable agri-food industry, we must move away from the comfort zone and become open to the new opportunities that exist when we ‘stretch’.  Be a part of that future – bring yourself and your ideas to REAP.

reapconference.co.uk

Resurrect Bio – REAP 2023 Start-Up Showcase

Meet the Network
Agri-TechE

Resurrect Bio changes the code to unlock plant defences

Plants have a sophisticated immune system that has co-evolved as a defence against pathogens, but it may be lying inactive in many crop varieties. Now Resurrect Bio, a spinout from The Sainsbury Laboratory (TSL) in Norwich, has found a way to re-engineer the disease response mechanism in plants to restore resilience.

Speaking at Agri-TechE’s REAP conference, Dr Cian Duggan, co-founder of Resurrect Bio, says: “Our research suggests there could be a multitude of resistance genes sitting in crop genomes that are suppressed by pathogens, and that we could potentially resurrect or otherwise improve. This intriguing possibility drove us to establish a spinout company.

“Essentially, we have resurrected resistance genes by bioengineering the helper receptor.

“And this doesn’t just apply to a specific gene; it can be implemented with a host of other resistance genes. This is a huge breakthrough and has potential to be a game-changer in plant protection.”

The initial targets are Soybean Cyst Nematode and Asian Soybean Rust which collectively cost the US more than $2Bn annually, Resurrect Bio is exploring how to re-engineer the disease response.

Find out more about Resurrect Bio at resurrect.bio.

Resurrect Bio
Dr Cian Duggan, co-founder of Resurrect Bio
Dr Cian Duggan, co-founder of Resurrect Bio

REAP 2023 logo

REAP Conference 2023:
Adaptation Through Innovation; Beyond the Comfort Zone

Wednesday 8th November, 9:30 am – 6:30 pm
Rowley Mile Conference Centre, Newmarket

Surviving and thriving under increasingly extreme and unpredictable challenges is the theme of the 2023 REAP conference. To build a productive, profitable and sustainable agri-food industry, we must move away from the comfort zone and become open to the new opportunities that exist when we ‘stretch’.  Be a part of that future – bring yourself and your ideas to REAP.

reapconference.co.uk

PlentySense – REAP 2023 Start-Up Showcase

Meet the Network
Agri-TechE

PlentySense offers real-time monitoring of soil nitrogen availability under growing crops

Around 50 percent of nitrogen (N) applied to crops is not taken up and can leach into the environment. Now sensors developed by PlentySense, a spinout from John Innes Centre, can measure the amount of nitrate taken up by the growing crop and the reserve available in the soil, thereby optimising fertiliser usage.

The first sensors are designed to measure nitrate, but Dr Yi Chen in the team of Professor Tony Miller, Chief Scientific Officer, is working on adjusting the sensor chemistry to quantity other nutrients, including potassium (K) and phosphate (P).

He says that the sensors give early actionable insights: “If aerial or satellite imaging used to measure the health of the crop indicates a yellowing of the leaves, then it is too late – yield has already been affected.

“Our sensors enable action to be taken that will ensure that the plant has the right amount of nutrition throughout the year without waste or yield penalty; this will have a huge financial and environmental benefit.”

Find out more about PlentySense at plentysense.io

Start-Up Showcase 2023 - Tony Miller, PlentySense (web)
Tony Miller, PlentySense, presenting at the REAP Start-Up Showcase 2023
PlentySense trials 2023

REAP 2023 logo

REAP Conference 2023:
Adaptation Through Innovation; Beyond the Comfort Zone

Wednesday 8th November, 9:30 am – 6:30 pm
Rowley Mile Conference Centre, Newmarket

Surviving and thriving under increasingly extreme and unpredictable challenges is the theme of the 2023 REAP conference. To build a productive, profitable and sustainable agri-food industry, we must move away from the comfort zone and become open to the new opportunities that exist when we ‘stretch’.  Be a part of that future – bring yourself and your ideas to REAP.

reapconference.co.uk

HotHouse Therapeutics – REAP 2023 Start-Up Showcase

Meet the Network
Agri-TechE

HotHouse Therapeutics uses a plant factory to mass produce rare medicinal drugs

Some of the most potent drugs known to mankind are produced by plants, but issues such as accessing source material from rare plants and modifying the complex chemicals have meant they have been largely abandoned by the drug discovery industry. This challenge has been overcome by technology from HotHouse Therapeutics (a spin-out from the laboratory of Professor Anne Osbourn OBE FRS at the John Innes Centre) which enables any naturally occurring medicinal compound to be reproduced by a host plant, creating a high value crop for Controlled Environment Agriculture.

Martin Stocks, co-founder of HotHouse Therapeutics, says: “We imminently expect to close our seed funding round of more than £2.5m from a consortium of UK venture capital investors.

“The endgame for HotHouse Therapeutics will be the generation of novel plant-produced drugs, probably made in specifically engineered plant lines. Such lines will require secure, contained facilities to grow the biomass needed for drug production.

“We are considering the potential of hydroponics and vertical farming in the manufacture of our products. We are interested in engaging potential partners in this space and accessing development funding to explore routes to viable and sustainable production systems.”

Read more about Professor Anne Osbourn’s research at jic.ac.uk/people/anne-osbourn/.

Start-Up Showcase 2023 - Martin Stocks, HotHouse Therapeutics (web)
Martin Stocks, HotHouse Therapeutics, presenting in the REAP Start-Up Showcase 2023
Pathway reconstruction
HotHouse Therapeutics

REAP 2023 logo

REAP Conference 2023:
Adaptation Through Innovation; Beyond the Comfort Zone

Wednesday 8th November, 9:30 am – 6:30 pm
Rowley Mile Conference Centre, Newmarket

Surviving and thriving under increasingly extreme and unpredictable challenges is the theme of the 2023 REAP conference. To build a productive, profitable and sustainable agri-food industry, we must move away from the comfort zone and become open to the new opportunities that exist when we ‘stretch’.  Be a part of that future – bring yourself and your ideas to REAP.

reapconference.co.uk

Agtelligence – REAP 2023 Start-Up Showcase

Meet the Network
Agri-TechE

Agtelligence to provide financial institutes with a ‘sustainability rating’ for arable land

Providing evidence of best environmental practice ‘when the computer decides’ is currently difficult to do for farmers. A new tool, ‘FarmScore’, from Agtelligence aims to distil this complexity into a simple score that can be used by banks, financial institutes, and funding agencies to quickly benchmark progress against sustainability metrics.

Nima Eskandari, Chief Executive Officer at Agtelligence, says:

“Many insurance companies currently reduce premiums for farms with additional security against theft; FarmScore would provide evidence of de-risking natural assets. We are currently in discussion with financial institutes about how they could better support farmers that have a good score. It could be a virtuous circle.”

Agtelligence was recently awarded funding through the UK Space Agency and will be showcasing FarmScore in the UK pavilion at COP28.

Find out more at www.agtelligence.space.

Start-Up Showcase 2023 - Nima Eskandari, Agtelligence (web)
Nima Eskandari, Agtelligence, presenting in the REAP Start-Up Showcase 2023

Screenshots of FarmScore:

Agtelligence FarmScore screenshot
Agtelligence FarmScore screenshot

REAP 2023 logo

REAP Conference 2023:
Adaptation Through Innovation; Beyond the Comfort Zone

Wednesday 8th November, 9:30 am – 6:30 pm
Rowley Mile Conference Centre, Newmarket

Surviving and thriving under increasingly extreme and unpredictable challenges is the theme of the 2023 REAP conference. To build a productive, profitable and sustainable agri-food industry, we must move away from the comfort zone and become open to the new opportunities that exist when we ‘stretch’.  Be a part of that future – bring yourself and your ideas to REAP.

reapconference.co.uk

Diageo sees positive impact of regen agriculture

Meet the Network
Agri-TechE

Climate-sensitive farming is an important element of Diageo’s sustainability planning. With 30 percent of its Scope 3 emissions coming from agriculture, the beverage company is introducing a number of ambitious regenerative agriculture programmes with its wheat and barley producers to improve resilience and reduce emissions.

Andy Griffiths, Head of Sustainable Procurement at Diageo, is a speaker on the REAP Supply Chain panel, and ahead of the conference we asked him about these projects.

Quantifying the impact of regenerative farming on soil carbon

The first phase of the Scottish programme will focus on approximately 20 farms in three key barley and wheat sourcing regions. It aims to support a reduction in scope 3 carbon-emissions as part of Diageo’s 10-year ESG action plan.

AgriCarbon will help Diageo build the baselines of how much carbon the soil currently holds and track soil carbon changes over time across both geographic contexts, while James Hutton Limited will investigate how regenerative farming practices can improve soil structure, biological activity and water retention rate.

Andy says: “We are still in the early stages of the project in Scotland, we are however leveraging the learnings from our Guinness programme in Ireland to inform this project and using one of our key technical partners, AgriCarbon, to build deeper insight into soil carbon levels and rates of change.

“Many of the GHG emissions benefits from regenerative agriculture come from aspects such as reduced fuel usage and chemical inputs. These can be assessed through farmer reporting and modelling,

“While practice based modelling can be a useful first step in determining soil carbon, we are working with AgriCarbon to conduct physical sampling and analysis of the fields involved.

Andy Griffiths, Diageo

Promising findings

“AgriCarbon’s solution is more cost efficient than traditional soil sampling and analysis, but there is still a need to further reduce costs and the invasive nature of sampling. This will help to scale farmer uptake and assess the performance of different regenerative agriculture interventions, more efficiently.

“Changes in soil carbon can take a number of years to measure confidently and credibly, the measurement processes we are using are enabling us to assess directional comparisons.

“Based on recent assessments, it would appear that the practices deployed by the farmers engaging in this programme are having a positive effect.”

Co-funding farmers to implement regen agriculture

Andy is also involved in the Landscape Enterprise Networks (LENS) model. Its focus is to enable organisations with a dependency on a landscape, to collaborate with farmers and land managers and co-fund regenerative agriculture interventions.

This will support landscape transformation, and is not limited to organisations within the agri-food chain. Others – such as the leisure and hospitality sector – who have a dependency on the landscape, will also be able to collaborate.

He explains: “The LENS model is outcome focussed. It puts farmers, land managers and communities at the centre of decision making, enabling them to identify what they need in order to deliver the outcomes identified by the funders.

“By creating a ‘green commerce’ model, LENS enables funds to flow into and within the landscape and associated communities.

“This approach enables organisations to address the dependencies and impacts they have within their value chains (insetting / within value chain mitigation), in an efficient and scalable manner.

“The East of England programme is a great example of LENs in action and is continuing to grow in scale and impact, providing insights from which the other LENs programmes can leverage.”


REAP 2023 logo

REAP Conference 2023:
Adaptation Through Innovation; Beyond the Comfort Zone

Wednesday 8th November, 9:30 am – 6:30 pm
Rowley Mile Conference Centre, Newmarket

Surviving and thriving under increasingly extreme and unpredictable challenges is the theme of the 2023 REAP conference. To build a productive, profitable and sustainable agri-food industry, we must move away from the comfort zone and become open to the new opportunities that exist when we ‘stretch’.  Be a part of that future – bring yourself and your ideas to REAP.

reapconference.co.uk

REAPing the benefits of supply chain insights

Meet the Network
Agri-TechE

Unpredictable disruptions have challenged the agri-food chain over recent months, but it has shown amazing resilience. The Supply Chain panel at REAP 2023 will hear how AM Fresh Group, Diageo and Tesco are applying innovation to help mitigate climate related risk and improve sustainability. This will include a discussion of the opportunities being created for producers and agri-tech to support them.

New legislation  – Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures –  has come into effect this year, and that is driving the journey to Net Zero from the top of the supply chain. This global move towards sustainability is evident from projects initiated by the speakers on the panel, with reporting on their websites aligned to the requirements of TCFD.

 

The Supply Chain Panel at REAP 2023

Naomi Pendleton

Naomi Pendleton
Group Sustainability Director at AM Fresh Group

AM Fresh Group is an international organisation that works with partners across a vertically-integrated supply chain specialising in citrus, table grapes, tropical fruits and superfoods. 

The company uses the best traditional breeding practices with advanced biotechnology to develop new varieties of grapes, citrus and other high value fruits. It has a portfolio of patented varieties and supports a programme of continuous innovation supported by customer insights. 

The company has a successful program to reduce waste in its citrus chain and Naomi reported on a pilot project with black soldier flies at an Agri-TechE meeting. Naomi says: “Between our two fresh produce manufacturing sites, we generate 5000 tonnes of food waste each year, which represents approximately 1.6% of our throughput. We started our relationship with AgriGrub in 2019 at their pilot site in Hasse Fen with a mission to be zero food waste by 2025.”

Andy Griffiths

Andy Griffiths
Head of Sustainable Procurement at Diageo

Diageo is a global leader in beverage alcohol with a collection of brands across spirits and beer including Johnnie Walker, Smirnoff, Baileys, Captain Morgan, Tanqueray, and Guinness.

Like many organisations, Scope 3 makes up a high proportion of the total emissions for Diageo. These come in part from the production and processing of their raw materials, such as barley, wheat, rye and dairy, and contribute almost a third of Diageo’s total value chain footprint.

Through its ‘Grain to Glass’ sustainability programme, the company is taking action to mitigate climate related risks in a data-led and systemic way. It is supporting farmers to transition to regenerative agriculture and to improve the resilience of farmers’ livelihoods to climate change. The aim is to use the analysis to identify opportunities for improvement on-farm, so the company can focus efforts where it will make the biggest positive impact.

One of these projects is in Ireland which aims to reduce carbon emissions of barley used to brew Guinness. Another is a collaboration with growers in Scotland to gather on-farm data, which together with satellite imagery and AI-informed predictive analytics, will improve baseline carbon footprint data and provide insights into other on-farm environmental metrics.

Peter Illman, Tesco

Peter Illman
Sustainable Agriculture Manager at Tesco

Peter takes responsibility for delivery of the sustainable agriculture strategy within fresh produce, and has led the UK’s largest-ever commercial rollout of low-carbon fertiliser, which has won high praise from the industry.

Tesco has made a commitment to halve the environmental impact of the average shopping basket by 2030. Peter comments: “Part of our responsibility to consumers is that by adapting, learning and investing, we aim to guarantee both a secure supply of affordable, fresh food, and a healthy, thriving food system.

Following the success of its pilot, the company has recently announced that it will extend its trial of eight market-ready low-carbon fertilisers manufactured from food waste, chicken litter and algae. The aim was to determine the most eco-friendly and cost-effective alternatives to conventional fertiliser. Initial results found the alternatives were just as effective as conventional fertilisers while slashing emissions by up to 50%, with no extra cost to farmers.


The session will be chaired by:

Jon Williams, BASF

Jon Williams
Public and Governmental Affairs Manager – Agricultural Solutions, UK and Ireland at BASF

As a leading company in the crop protection industry, BASF has a broad portfolio of fungicides, insecticides, herbicides, seed treatments and pest control products. In addition, it also provides biological crop protection products and solutions for improving plant health as well as nutrient management in the soil.

BASF is currently running a number of trials with farmers to investigate ways to optimise nutrient use in the field and to measure and monitor environmental variables.


REAP 2023 logo

REAP Conference 2023:
Adaptation Through Innovation; Beyond the Comfort Zone

Wednesday 8th November, 9:30 am – 6:30 pm
Rowley Mile Conference Centre, Newmarket

Surviving and thriving under increasingly extreme and unpredictable challenges is the theme of the 2023 REAP conference. To build a productive, profitable and sustainable agri-food industry, we must move away from the comfort zone and become open to the new opportunities that exist when we ‘stretch’.  Be a part of that future – bring yourself and your ideas to REAP.

reapconference.co.uk