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Influence of nature and nurture – Antler Bio provides insights

Meet the Network
Agri-TechE

Subclinical signs of stress are difficult to detect but the new platform EPIHERD, developed by Antler Bio, is harnessing gene expression data to reveal the impact of nature and nurture on the status of the herd. Farmers are given advice on targeted interventions.

Maria Jensen, CEO of Cambridge-based Antler Bio, says that results from its recent collaborative research project have exceeded expectations.

“Using EPIHERD we are able to do a deep dive to investigate, for example, why genetically similar individuals in the herd have lower milk yield, and to report this back to farmers so they can take action.”

The company was recently awarded follow on funding from the Innovate UK Better Food for All.

Benefiting from the Agri-TechE ecosystem

After presenting in the REAP 2022 Start-up Showcase, Antler Bio joined Agri-TechE. The membership organisation supports innovation in agricultural technologies, and Maria was keen to benefit from the network.

Director Dr Belinda Clarke comments that Antler Bio is a welcome addition to the innovation ecosystem.

She says: “Changing climate patterns are making our crops and livestock vulnerable to new strains of disease and to a shortage of resources – such as water.

“Identifying stress at an early stage can help improve livestock performance in suboptimal environments. Antler Bio’s technology answers a key question in animal welfare and provides insights for pragmatic interventions.”

Maria Jensen of Antler Bio
Maria Jensen of Antler Bio

Impact of nature and nurture – Antler Bio can give the answer

Cows with the same genetics may perform very differently to one another; this means that gene expression may be influenced by environmental factors.

Maria says: “By measuring which genes are actually active in an animal, and their level of activity, we can bridge the existing data gap between the animal’s DNA and its performance.

“Our project aimed to understand the gene expression profiles between top and underperforming dairy cattle. We have succeeded in identifying novel biomarkers that are linked to productivity, and these are being patented. We have also developed a highly sophisticated data analysis and validation methodology and have built this into our EPIHERD reporting platform.

“By understanding events that promote desirable or undesirable gene expression we can give precision recommendations regarding habitat, animal husbandry and feed in order to unlock the herd’s full potential and support herd health in a natural way.”

Signatures that indicate dehydration

Maria gives an example of one herd where they were able to determine that the significant difference between high and low performing individuals were signatures of dehydration between these groups.

“When we presented this to the farmer, he thought it was most likely due to the combination of herd dynamics and the positioning of the water troughs. He immediately bought a water unit and installed it at a strategic spot, enabling better water access to the high-potential but submissive animals.

“The data from another herd revealed a need for omega-3 fatty acids and choline, which previously had gone unnoticed even though they conduct routine analysis on the forage with nutritional experts. This farm started supplementing the herd and have reported an increase in milk yield ever since.

“Another example was a farm where herd data indicated that the cows were stressed due to suboptimal hygiene conditions in the barn. Although the animals were healthy and unaffected on a visible level, our data showed that they were constantly diverting energy that could be used for milk production towards counteracting infections. Through simple hygiene improvements the farm was able to increase milk yield.

“These few examples highlight the power and the potential of the data that we bring to the farmers’ fingertips.”

Creating opportunities from challenge at REAP 2023

The theme of the 2023 Agri-TechE REAP Conference is ‘Adaptation Through Innovation; Beyond the Comfort Zone’ and it will explore strategies for creating opportunity from challenge. It includes a carefully curated Start-Up Showcase of early growth companies with promising technologies.

Antler Bio presented last year and Maria reports that since then they have been delighted with the response from farmers to their decision support platform.

The company has since attracted further funding. Antler Bio is building towards a seed round, has recently closed a bridging funding round with the Nest Family Office, and secured a Women TechEU award from the European Commission.

The Start-Up Showcase at REAP has provided profile for many exciting early-stage businesses with collaborators, end-users, and investors – here we ask some: where are they now? This year’s line-up is being kept under wraps until the conference on 8th November 2023.

Find out more about Antler Bio at www.antlerbio.com.

Find out more about REAP at reapconference.co.uk.

Maria Jensen of Antler Bio presenting in the Start-Up Showcase at REAP 2022
Maria Jensen of Antler Bio presenting in the Start-Up Showcase at REAP 2022

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

FOLIUM Science using Guided Biotics to reduce ammonia in poultry production

Meet the Network
Agri-TechE

Improving gut health in animal production could significantly boost wellbeing and productivity, according to Ed Fuchs, co-founder of FOLIUM Science. The company has won funding from Innovate UK to extend the application of its Guided Biotics® platform technology to tackle the bacteria responsible for excessive ammonia production in the poultry house. It is the latest in a series of initiatives from FOLIUM Science to tackle major challenges in animal production.

Announcing at REAP 2024

FOLIUM Science will be announcing a new development at the Agri-TechE REAP conference ‘Adaptation Through Innovation; Beyond the Comfort Zone’. The conference will explore strategies for creating opportunity from challenge.

Agri-TechE is a membership organisation that supports innovation in agricultural technologies. Director Dr Belinda Clarke comments: “FOLIUM Science’s approach is a good example of agri-tech that addresses an unmet need and will quickly provide a return on investment”.

Ed Fuchs says that gut health is key to performance: “Research has shown that even a short exposure to high concentrations of ammonia is harmful, and this gas is produced by enzymes from bacteria residing in the guts of the animals. Our platform technology can modulate the microbiome to reduce ammonia production and improve animal health”.

The company will be exhibiting at REAP 2023.

 

Ed Fuchs, FOLIUM Science reducing ammonia in poultry production
Ed Fuchs, FOLIUM Science

Reducing ammonia in poultry production

Ammonia in poultry houses is a major challenge. Unused nitrogen in the feed is converted to ammonia by bacteria in the gut. Many of these bacteria – Helicobacter, Staphylococcus, Klebsiella – also cause disease in both poultry and humans. FOLIUM Science’s technology is able to selectively target and silence the genes involved in ammonia generation in these bacteria, weakening them so they are less able to colonise the gut and compete with beneficial bacteria in the microbiome.

Ed explains that, critically, the Guided Biotics process does not remove the bacteria: “Our technology is making these bacteria less aggressive, restoring the balance in the microbiome, and reducing the amount of ammonia produced. The plan for the future is to support the bird’s metabolism in becoming more efficient at repurposing this nitrogen into protein.”

Protecting chicks from Salmonella

FOLIUM Science has already produced a feed additive that will protect young chicks against common bacterial infections such as Salmonella and E. coli. This was announced at the Agri-TechE REAP conference in 2018 and is to be launched in Brazil next year. It offers highly specific, targeted antimicrobial effects, with none of the bad side effects of an antibiotic. It also has probiotic properties.

FOLIUM Science’s Guided Biotics, based on CRISPR-Cas technology, has received endorsement from the Brazilian National BioSafety Committee (CTNBio) as a non-GM ‘new-breeding technique’, which is supporting the commercialisation of the company’s first product.

CRISPR-Cas is a defence system that has evolved in bacteria to protect them against invading viruses. FOLIUM Science is harnessing this natural system to manage and modulate bacteria in the microbiome.

Ed is keen for the UK to adopt a similar approach to Brazil, saying it will accelerate the development of new types of solutions.

“We have demonstrated that our Guided Biotics technology can have multiple benefits in the control of disease and improving performance in the poultry industry. We would encourage regulators to give overarching approval for the technology platform – the process we are deploying – rather than each output needing separate approvals as it does currently, as this would enable the rapid production of the products that the industry and the environment urgently need.”

Ed Fuchs, FOLIUM Science, presenting at REAP 2018
Ed Fuchs, FOLIUM Science, presenting in the Start-Up Showcase at REAP 2018

To announce at REAP: rapid lateral flow test for Salmonella

FOLIUM Science is to announce its latest project developing new applications of its CRIPSR-Cas portfolio, a rapid lateral flow test for Salmonella, at the Agri-TechE REAP conference on 8th November 2023. Find out more about the REAP 2023 exhibition at reapconference.co.uk.


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

The REAP Start-Up Showcase – where are they now?

Agri-TechE Article
Agri-TechE

Each year we handpick some of the most exciting early-stage agri-tech companies to take part in the REAP Start-up Showcase.

While not all of these disruptive technologies will reach the market, a high proportion of those featured at REAP are making good progress. Fourteen of the companies featured have raised over £120M in the last three years and others are making waves across the industry. Find out more below.

Casey Woodward, AgriSound

AgriSound provides beekeepers with a range of solutions to enable remote management of hives. It presented at COP26, has raised £250K and is deploying 1 million sensors.

Appeared in 2021.

Howard Wu, founder of Antobot

Antobot is developing small, intelligent, affordable robotics for sustainable agriculture; it secured £1.2M in seed funding in 2020.

Appeared in 2020.

Better Origin at REAP 2015

Better Origin has developed the world’s first autonomous insect mini-farm. It uses insects to create protein for animal feed from food waste. The company raised $16M in 2022.

Appeared in 2015.

Ian Wheal, Breedr, in the REAP 2018 Start-Up Showcase

Breedr is a productivity and marketing platform that allow farmers to track everything about their animals to improve animal welfare and profitability. It raised $15.8M in 2022.

Appeared in 2018.

Dogtooth at REAP

Dogtooth is developing intelligent robots for soft fruit picking. It raised £7M in a Series A funding round in 2021.

Appeared in 2016.

Ilan Adler, EcoNomad, at REAP 2019

EcoNomad Solutions offers an affordable waste to energy solution for smallholder farmers. Its technology uses bacteria to generate biogas. It has raised funding through SHAKE.

Appeared in 2019.

fieldmargin at REAPO 2015

fieldmargin is an innovative farm mapping software helping farmers to make more informed day-to-day decisions. Its product is used by thousands of farms across 170 countries.

Appeared in 2015.

SoSeRaH - Fieldwork Robotics (c)

Fieldwork Robotics has developed soft, selective, and autonomous raspberry-harvesting robots. Their Seedrs campaign in May 2023 raised £1.1M.

Appeared in 2021.

Ed Fuchs, FOLIUM Science, at REAP 2018

FOLIUM Science‘s Guided Biotics® technology supports a healthy microbiome – in plants and livestock. It gained UKRI funding for a collaborative project to control Pseudomonas and boost yield in tomatoes.

Appeared in 2018.

Fotenix

FOTENIX Technology offers cost-effective crop analysis in the field. It has partnered with major robotics manufacturers and was selected for Tesco Agri T-Jam in 2020.

Appeared in 2019.

FungiAlert at REAP 2016

FA-Bio (previously FungiAlert) based at Rothamsted, created SporSenZ a tool for soil microbial analysis. They have deployed 2600 units across the world. FA-Bio were awarded funding from the Farming Innovation Programme in June 2023 to develop a biopesticide using native soil and plant inhabiting fungi.

Appeared in 2016.

Gardin optical phenotyping

Gardin‘s UL listed Phenotyping Sensor device provides early indication of plant stress through analysing photosynthetic performance in greenhouses and vertical farms. It raised $1.2M in pre-seed funding in 2021 and £8.15M in seed funding for its optical sensors.

Appeared in 2021.

Rob Sanders, Glas Data, at REAP 2019

GLAS Data offers a easy-to-use data collection and benchmarking platform for use in the field. It has raised £141K to further develop its products.

Appeared in 2019

Liam Dolan, MoA Technology, at REAP 2019

MOA Technology is a plant genetics company spun out from the University of Oxford. It’s 2020 Series B round closed on $44M.

Appeared in 2019.

PBD Biotech at REAP 2016

PBD Biotech has developed an Actiphage® diagnostics kit for the rapid, sensitive blood/milk testing for bovine TB and Johne’s Disease. It has raised over £2M and launched a commercial Johne’s Disease testing service. In January 2023 it refocused efforts on Human TB.

Appeared in 2016.

Daniel Bahia, PheroSyn (web)

PheroSyn develops and produces novel pest pheromones. It raised a £200K Innovate UK grant in 2021, embarked on a 36-month collaboration project with Rothamsted Research in 2022. And in 2023, they won the Radicle Inclusion Challenge securing a USD $750,000 investment.

Appeared in 2020.

YAGRO Co-founder Gareth Davies presents at REAP 2015

Yagro uses data analytics to improve business decisions, aggregating on-farm data to provide detail and insight into current and historical performance. In 2021, Yagro joined the Frontier Group and in 2023 they launched Yagro Tracker for live tracking of costs and sales.

Appeared in 2015.

Zelp aims to significantly reduce environmental impacts of livestock industry via their methane-targeting wearables for cattle. It raised $10M Series A funding in 2021.

Appeared in 2019.

We are keeping the line-up for the 2023 Start-Up Showcase companies under wraps until REAP 2023 – join us live on 8 November to find out who will be the next big players in agri-tech.


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

reapconference.co.uk

FLOURISH makes ‘bad’ bacteria self-destruct to create a healthy microbiome

Agri-TechE Article
Agri-TechE

Ed Fuchs, FLOURISH
Ed Fuchs, FLOURISH

Bacterial crop diseases cause devastating losses. Some are controlled by antibiotics, which results in damage to beneficial organisms in the microbiome and the risk of resistance. FLOURISH offers an alternative plant protection strategy. By disrupting the metabolism of the pathogen, it enables natural competition to create a healthy growing environment, which boosts yield.

Ed Fuchs is a Co-founder of FLOURISH, a carve-out from FOLIUM Science, which has developed a Guided Biotics® technology for animal health and now has a number of product candidates ready for commercialisation via multinational feed additives distributors, following successful safety assessments by regulators. Ed presented in the Agri-TechE REAP 2022 Start-up Showcase.

Ed comments: “Plants extract nutrition from their environment using complex interactions with microorganisms in the soil. The importance of this microbiome is increasingly recognised in human and animal health.

“Our technology uses either bacteria or phages (virus particles) that are highly selective for a particular type of bacteria, such as Pseudomonas, to share a specific DNA sequence with the target that redirects its immune system, causing the pathogen to self-destruct. As the sequence is very specific and targeted to the particular bacteria it will not damage organisms that are vital for plant growth. This process therefore gives the beneficial organisms a competitive advantage.”

In trials with tomatoes the use of Guided Biotics® was shown to reduce Pseudomonas syringae and Botrytis cinerea by more than 99.9% and double the weight of the tomato yield.

Ed explains: “Our first product candidate uses an epiphyte (a naturally occurring bacteria from the tomato plant), to share the DNA sequence which gets rid of the Pseudomonas Syringae. The epiphyte also naturally produces molecules to remove Botrytis (fungus) and the combination enables the yield improvement.”

Over 12 million hectares of tomatoes are grown globally and they are at risk of bacterial canker which is caused by Pseudomonas syringae. Canker is also a serious disease of stone fruits such as cherries and peaches, showing the technology has a significant global market across many disease targets.

The use of phage particles is already regarded as safe by major territories and is being increasingly used in diagnostics and medication. The ‘reprogramming’ uses the gene editing technology CRISPR, which is recognised as distinct from genetic modification as it does not introduce alien DNA into the organism. Regulatory reform already underway is likely to support the wider use of this technology.

Ed continues: “FOLIUM has benefited from funding and due diligence from Innovate UK; with the necessary funding it has the potential to be spun-out as a plant-focussed company addressing a global crop protection market valued at £50bn.

“FOLIUM benefited greatly from the profile gained at the REAP 2018 Start-Up Showcase and I hope to repeat this success with FLOURISH.”

Dr Belinda Clarke, Director of Agri-TechE, comments: “Antibiotic resistance is a global ‘One Health’ problem and FLOURISH is offering an innovative alternative. I am sure that it will attract significant interest from the agri-tech innovation ecosystem. REAP has provided profile for many exciting early-stage businesses with collaborators, end users and investors. 14 of the companies previously featured have collectively raised over £92 Million in the last three years.”

Find out more at foliumscience.com


REAP 2022: Making Sense of AgricultureREAP 2022: ‘Making Sense of Agriculture’ – Tuesday 8th November 2022 

From yield mapping and precision livestock through to digital twins and cloud computing, at REAP 2022 we will be exploring the technology and looking at the implications from a field to landscape level. Making technology farm-centric is core to Agri-TechE’s mission so a key feature of the conference will be a panel of farmers and producers discussing the emerging technologies and future scenarios.

reapconference.co.uk

SugaROx’s new biostimulant protects wheat yields by up to 40% after drought

Agri-TechE Article
Agri-TechE

Cara Griffiths, Co-Founder and CTO of SugaROx, at REAP 2022, speaking at REAP 2022
Cara Griffiths, Co-Founder and CTO of SugaROx, at REAP 2022, speaking at REAP 2022

As erratic weather events are becoming more common, and have a detrimental effect on crop yields, a biostimulant being developed by agri-tech start-up SugaROx is attracting significant interest. It has been found to prevent yield-loss in wheat by up to 40% when applied after a drought event and can boost yields by up to 18% under typical growing conditions. The product slots seamlessly into existing agricultural practices, offering ease-of-use for farmers. The company discussed the new product at the Agri-TechE REAP 2022 Start-Up Showcase.

SugaROx is a spinout from Rothamsted Research and University of Oxford. It was formed following collaborative work published in Nature* that discovered that a modified version of a natural plant molecule, trehalose-6-phosphate (T6P), had the potential to significantly increase grain yield. In addition, application to vegetative tissues pre-flowering was found to improve plant recovery after a drought event.

Dr Cara Griffiths, Chief Technology Officer and co-inventor of the SugaROx technology, explains that T6P plays a key role in controlling sucrose utilisation, which underpins plant growth, grain development and stress responses.

She says: “The collaboration between plant biologists at Rothamsted Research and carbohydrate chemists at Oxford University resulted in the development of a modified version of T6P. This was so effective at boosting wheat yields that we decided to protect the invention, and form SugaROx to develop this technology commercially”.

Initial field trials have established proof-of-concept, and further trials are being commissioned in 2022 to determine optimal application rate and other use conditions in wheat. The potential for this biostimulant to contribute to a low-carbon economy is huge: a 15% yield boost to wheat grain yields could provide a 24% uplift in gross margin for UK farmers, while reducing CO2 emission by 11% per loaf of bread.

Further product development is occurring to cover additional broadacre crops: maize, barley, millet and sorghum with promising results. SugaROx will also be developing T6P solutions for improvement in fruit quality, flowering, and stress tolerance.

“We are essentially making plants as productive as they can be at driving nutrients and carbon resources into grain yield, making every unit of agricultural land more efficient than ever before,” says Cara.

Dr Belinda Clarke, Director of Agri-TechE, comments: “Increasing the efficiency of photosynthesis is a holy grail for agriculture; I am sure SugaROx’s innovative approach will attract significant interest from the agri-tech innovation ecosystem. REAP has provided profile for many exciting early-stage businesses with collaborators, end users and investors. 14 of the companies previously featured have collectively raised over £92 Million in the last three years.”

Since 2020, SugaROx has attracted over £1.4M of funding from angel and VC investors, as well as receiving funding from Defra and Innovate UK through the Farming Innovation Programme for product development and market analysis for a wheat biostimulant. This latest round of investment will enable the company to launch more extensive field trials on wheat, start the registration process in key markets and obtain proof of concept for new products ideas based on this platform technology.

Cara says that the company is keen to talk to potential investors, commercial partners, and end-users about applications to a range of crops and geographies – the product offers potential for worldwide application.

Find out more at sugarox.co.uk. 

*Chemical intervention in plant sugar signalling increases yield and resilience nature.com/articles/nature20591


REAP 2022: Making Sense of AgricultureREAP 2022: ‘Making Sense of Agriculture’ – Tuesday 8th November 2022 

From yield mapping and precision livestock through to digital twins and cloud computing, at REAP 2022 we will be exploring the technology and looking at the implications from a field to landscape level. Making technology farm-centric is core to Agri-TechE’s mission so a key feature of the conference will be a panel of farmers and producers discussing the emerging technologies and future scenarios.

reapconference.co.uk

WASWARE announces world’s first organic bioresin seed coating at REAP

Agri-TechE Article
Agri-TechE

Xiaobin Zhao, WASWARE, speaking at REAP 2022
Xiaobin Zhao, WASWARE, speaking at REAP 2022

Frasscoat uses a bioresin impregnated with a biopesticide created from insect frass to provide powerful, biodegradable seed protection. It has been developed by WASWARE to create a seed treatment that increases seed sprouting and seedling survival, enhances growth and repels pests, whilst leaving no chemical residues. Frasscoat was showcased by Prof Xiaobin Zhao of WASWARE at the Agri-TechE REAP 2022 Start-up Showcase.

The idea for Frasscoat emerged after a discussion between AgriGrub and Cambond in the Royal Norfolk Show Innovation Hub hosted by Agri-TechE. The discussion was facilitated by Dr Lydia Smith of NIAB, an expert in the circular economy, who saw an opportunity for a collaboration between the two organisations to address a huge crop protection challenge facing agriculture following the withdrawal of many chemicals used for seed treatments.

AgriGrub is using chitosan, a natural stimulant for a plant’s defence system, to create a potent active ingredient for crop protection. The chitin comes from insect frass produced by the larvae of black soldier flies feeding on waste fruit. Cambond has created a bio-resin from dried distillers’ grains, a by-product from whisky production, that, when combined with plant waste, offers an alternative to oil-based plastics.

The two companies have collaborated to develop Frasscoat with WASWARE, Cambond’s product development arm, to take it to market.

Xiaobin Zhao, WASWARE, speaking at REAP 2022 (2)Prof Xiaobin Zhao explains: “Frasscoat has potential to be the first organically certified seed coating technology. Seed treatments typically use a polymer containing pesticide to provide protection to the crop during emergence. These chemicals leave residues in the soil and are unsuitable for organic crops.

“By combining a biopesticide that has been developed naturally by insects and a bio-resin created from plant materials and biological processes, the result is a plant protection product that is highly effective, bio-degradable and provides uses for materials that would otherwise have been wasted.”

WASWARE has been conducting trials of Frasscoat with NIAB, the John Innes Centre and Rothamsted Research to verify the findings, which are very promising: seed germination is enhanced (>20%) and seedling growth is stimulated. There is also evidence of pest resistance properties.

Dr Belinda Clarke, Director of Agri-TechE, comments: “Increasing the germination rate and promoting strong growth in seedlings has been shown to improve crop resilience and performance. I am sure that WASWARE’s technology will attract significant interest from the agri-tech innovation ecosystem. REAP has provided profile for many exciting early-stage businesses with collaborators, end users and investors. 14 of the companies previously featured have collectively raised over £92 Million in the last three years.”

Find out more at was-ware.com.


REAP 2022: Making Sense of AgricultureREAP 2022: ‘Making Sense of Agriculture’ – Tuesday 8th November 2022 

From yield mapping and precision livestock through to digital twins and cloud computing, at REAP 2022 we will be exploring the technology and looking at the implications from a field to landscape level. Making technology farm-centric is core to Agri-TechE’s mission so a key feature of the conference will be a panel of farmers and producers discussing the emerging technologies and future scenarios.

reapconference.co.uk

Tremap gives citizen scientists access to first global platform for tree recording

Agri-TechE Article
Agri-TechE

Jonathon Jones OBE, Tremap, speaking at REAP 2022
Jonathon Jones OBE, Tremap, speaking at REAP 2022

As international governments propose ambitious tree planting programmes to reverse habitat degradation, one key challenge is being overlooked: “we don’t have a reliable way of knowing what trees we have,” said Jonathon Jones, Founder and CEO of Tremap, presenting at Agri-TechE’s REAP 2022 Start-Up Showcase. The Cornwall-based agri-tech start-up has created the world’s first global tree platform for recording and locating trees. The app is already in use by a number of botanic gardens to replace manual methods of tree surveying.

Jonathon explains that the idea for Tremap was born in Cornwall to provide a cost-effective management tool for the tree collection that would replace the need to physically label the trees.

“Tree surveys are incredibly time consuming and only conducted across small areas,” said Jonathon. “The concept for Tremap worked so well that we have increased its scope. It now consists of an international database of trees with an easy-to-use app for recording and visualisation.”

Tremap combines existing tree databases with satellite imagery from earth observation to create a global map, which is being ground-truthed with a smartphone app.

Jonathon continues: “The Tremap platform makes contributing to and viewing the world’s first global database of trees engaging and enjoyable. It puts tree mapping into the hands of everyone with a smartphone app.”

Applications include collating collections in arboretums and public spaces, evaluation of tree planting programmes, measurement of tree loss, and identification of particular species for conservation programmes.

Jonathon Jones OBE, Tremap, speaking at REAP 2022 featTremap is now open to private investment and has already been the recipient of generous funding by the ERDF, Agritech Cornwall, Tevi and AeroSpace Cornwall. The company is collaborating with the University of Exeter in the UK and the Smithsonian Institution in the USA to further develop the mapping, and has several early adopter development partners, including The Eden Project in Cornwall.

Jonathon welcomed the opportunity to present Tremap in the REAP Start-Up Showcase: “REAP is a very good opportunity to present Tremap’s latest development achievements to the media, and indirectly to our key markets. We are very open to discussion with potential investors and funding entities from the private and public sectors.”

Dr Belinda Clarke, Director of Agri-TechE, comments: “Trees are of fundamental importance to our survival, and Tremap is offering an innovative way to record and manage stocks of forestry. I am sure that it will attract significant interest from the agri-tech innovation ecosystem. REAP has provided profile for many exciting early-stage businesses with collaborators, end users and investors. 14 of the companies previously featured have collectively raised over £92 Million in the last three years.”

Find out more at tremap.com.


REAP 2022: Making Sense of AgricultureREAP 2022: ‘Making Sense of Agriculture’ – Tuesday 8th November 2022 

From yield mapping and precision livestock through to digital twins and cloud computing, at REAP 2022 we will be exploring the technology and looking at the implications from a field to landscape level. Making technology farm-centric is core to Agri-TechE’s mission so a key feature of the conference will be a panel of farmers and producers discussing the emerging technologies and future scenarios.

reapconference.co.uk

Same parents, different outcomes

Agri-TechE Article
Agri-TechE

Maria Jensen, Antler Bio, speaking at REAP 2022
Maria Jensen, Antler Bio, speaking at REAP 2022

“I have two racehorses with the same parents, but one has won 5M, the other €5K; why?” This was the question that fuelled the curiosity of Maria Jensen, founder and CEO of Antler Bio, to look at the impact of nurture on gene expression. The result is the EPIHERD Platform, a technology that bridges the massive data gap between an animal’s potential and its performance.

The company originally started by looking at racehorses, but is now focussed on the dairy industry, where more effective breeding and management would revolutionise productivity. Maria outlined the huge potential for Antler Bio’s technology in the Agri-TechE REAP 2022 Start-Up Showcase.

Maria explains: “A farmer can have two genetically similar cows on the same farm, but one might produce three times as much and is much healthier than the other. It’s evident that genetics alone does not explain these differences.

“I considered that if we could better understand the data behind the best producing and healthiest individuals and were able to more accurately identify the next generation of animals to meet these standards, then the industry could be producing at least three times as much high-quality produce with the current number of animals and with even fewer resources, thereby reducing methane output by up to 40%*.”

Current genetic testing looks for the presence and absence of gene variants that can affect different traits, such as milk yield, conformation, and fertility. These tests, however, do not quantify how much relevant genes are expressed and whether they are even active. It is also recognised that environmental factors such as nutrition, animal husbandry and stress can influence gene expression and directly impact the animal’s performance. Understanding these processes and their mechanisms is called epigenomics.

Maria continues: “Our innovative EPIHERD Platform focuses on the analysis of epigenomic data, looking at expression of key genes that impact health and performance, not just the presence or absence of a gene as with classical genetic testing. By measuring which genes are actually active in an animal and their level of activity we bridge the existing data gap between the animal’s DNA and the environment it resides in.

“In addition, by understanding which events trigger desirable or undesirable gene expression we can give precision recommendations regarding habitat, animal husbandry and feed in order to unlock the herd’s full potential and support herd health in a natural way.”

EPIHERD aims to help farmers:

  • Analyse herd performance against its actual potential
  • Improve animal management and husbandry in a targeted way
  • Strategically select individuals for breeding and production
  • Detect developing health disorders before any symptoms arise
  • Reduce GHG emissions/carbon footprints via increased efficiency
  • Gain a rapid ROI with low risk

Maria Jensen, Antler Bio, in the REAP 2022 Start-Up Showcase

Based in Dublin and Cambridge UK, the company has so far raised over £1M in equity and grants including from Innovate UK and is looking towards further fund raising.

“The Innovate UK project started in February 2022,” says Maria. “We are currently generating proprietary epigenomic data from samples such as blood and milk from dairy cattle and building the EPIHERD platform. This will deliver results and insights to the farmer in an easy-to-understand and actionable format. This platform is scalable to plants and even humans in the future.”

Dr Belinda Clarke, Director of Agri-TechE, comments: “The potential role of so-called epi-genomics in breeding improvement has been hugely under-exploited to date. I am sure that Antler Bio’s innovative approach will attract significant interest from the agri-tech innovation ecosystem. REAP has provided profile for many exciting early-stage businesses with collaborators, end users and investors. 14 of the companies previously featured have collectively raised over £92 Million in the last three years.”

Find out more at antlerbio.com

*Epigenetic regulation of milk production in dairy cows, Singh et al: pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20131087


REAP 2022: Making Sense of AgricultureREAP 2022: ‘Making Sense of Agriculture’ – Tuesday 8th November 2022 

From yield mapping and precision livestock through to digital twins and cloud computing, at REAP 2022 we will be exploring the technology and looking at the implications from a field to landscape level. Making technology farm-centric is core to Agri-TechE’s mission so a key feature of the conference will be a panel of farmers and producers discussing the emerging technologies and future scenarios.

reapconference.co.uk

Solar-powered ActiveWater tech reduces salinity of water for agriculture

Agri-TechE Article
Agri-TechE

Zac Gazit, ALVÁTECH, presenting at REAP 2022

As further droughts are predicted worldwide there will be increasing demand for crop irrigation, but a lack of fresh water is causing extensive soil degradation. To overcome this issue, ALVÁTECH has developed ActiveWater, a sustainable and affordable solar-powered treatment for water that reduces its salinity by up to 50% and improves soil health, enabling poorer quality water to be used without harm to the crop or the environment. The company presented in the Agri-TechE REAP 2022 Start-up Showcase.

The London based company, which operates in 27 countries, is looking to expand into Europe and presented in the Start-Up Showcase at the Agri-TechE REAP conference. ALVÁTECH’s devices can be incorporated into existing irrigation systems and are already being used in Africa, LATAM, MENA and North America with the support of governments and NGOs such as the Red Cross.

Zac Gazit, CEO and Managing Director of ALVÁTECH, explains: “20% of all irrigated land has been lost by salinisation and in many arid and semi-arid regions the only accessible water source is saline or brackish.

“We have developed an innovative grower-friendly technology that enables farmers to use available high salinity water while improving soil biodiversity with every irrigation cycle. This advanced agri innovation repairs the soil, breaking down salt crusts and walls, improving water infiltration and plant growth.”

ActiveWater disrupts the way water molecules move and interact with other molecules and minerals in the soil. ActiveWater increases water absorption by the soil, reducing the salinity around the plant roots while improving nutrient uptake by the plants. This saves 20-50% of the water normally required for irrigation and reduces the need for fertilizers.

ALVÁTECH technology was tested by the Kenya Red Cross at Lama. Elijah Muli, Head of Disaster Management, comments that the ALVÁTECH device was fitted to reduce salinity in water and soil used for growing sweet melon and watermelon. The salinity was reduced from 2,722 Micro Siemens to 580 Micro Siemens in less than two weeks.

He observes: “The results were very clear and positive with a significant reduction in salinity. With ALVÁTECH treated water the crops were developing and fruiting with proper leaf coverage with a dark green colour. In the untreated control the fruits were few, developed poorly and leaf coverage was poor and yellowing.

Zac Gazit, ALVÁTECH, in the REAP 2022 Start-Up Showcase
Zac Gazit, ALVÁTECH, in the REAP 2022 Start-Up Showcase

“The Kenya Red Cross Society views ALVÁTECH as a possible solution to allow farmers to use water with higher salinity for irrigation, grow more and faster and avoid environmentally damaging and costly alternatives.”

Dr Belinda Clarke, Director of Agri-TechE, comments: “The summer of 2022 has been one of the driest on record, with many farmers in the east of England reporting brackish water in their bore holes. I am sure that ALVÁTECH’s innovative approach to water resources will attract significant interest from the agri-tech innovation ecosystem. REAP has provided profile for many exciting early-stage businesses with collaborators, end users and investors. 14 of the companies previously featured have collectively raised over £92 Million in the last three years.”

A UN report (2014) estimated that 62 million hectares, an area the size of France, of previous agricultural land has been salt-affected at an estimated global economic loss of US$27.3 billion per year*.

IPBES suggests that approximately 190 million acres (76 m.ha) of irrigated land has already been permanently lost to salinisation.

ALVÁTECH is offering the system in the form of weatherproof devices, which easily slot into existing irrigation systems. The technology is affordable and available on a subscription basis to make it more accessible to farmers.

Find out more at www.alva-water.com

*World Losing 2,000 Hectares of Farm Soil Daily to Salt-Induced Degradation: unu.edu/media-relations/releases/world-losing-2000-hectares-of-farm-soil-daily-to-salt-induced-degradation.html


REAP 2022: Making Sense of AgricultureREAP 2022: ‘Making Sense of Agriculture’ – Tuesday 8th November 2022 

From yield mapping and precision livestock through to digital twins and cloud computing, at REAP 2022 we will be exploring the technology and looking at the implications from a field to landscape level. Making technology farm-centric is core to Agri-TechE’s mission so a key feature of the conference will be a panel of farmers and producers discussing the emerging technologies and future scenarios.

reapconference.co.uk