Exploring the use of genome-screening and other technology to reduce mastitis in sheep is among the latest projects funded under the government’s Agri-Tech strategy.

Defra announced details of £5m of funding for agricultural projects in the second round of its £70m Agri-Tech Cataylst scheme on Wednesday (22 October).

The strategy aims to develop innovations to solve some of the world’s greatest agricultural challenges such as food security and sustainability, weed control and livestock disease.

See also: Pig and poultry sectors to benefit from Agritech research funding

“Whether it’s safeguarding animals and crops against disease or using robotics to farm the land, cutting edge projects like these not only contribute to our growing economy but benefit the environment and increase global food security.”
Lord de Mauley, Defra minister

Innovations in this round also included:

  • A robotic weed sprayer for difficult farmland terrain
  • Developing rice resistance to two major diseases to support food security in Asia
  • Autonomous systems for remotely monitoring an invasive fruit pest

Defra minister Lord de Mauley said: “Investing in exciting technology in UK food and farming helps us grow this vital industry – from field to fork the food chain contributes £97bn to our economy and employs one in eight people.

“Whether it’s safeguarding animals and crops against disease or using robotics to farm the land, cutting-edge projects like these not only contribute to our growing economy but benefit the environment and increase global food security.”

Professor Jackie Hunter, Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council chief executive, added: “These exciting projects will turn research into practice, helping to boost crop yields, protect livestock and improve the sustainability of food production.”

Details on how to apply for round three of Agri-Tech Catalyst can be found at www.innovateuk.org/agri-tech-catalyst

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