£17.5m funding secured to help develop precision farming

More than £17m of government funding has been secured over the next four years to create a  global hub for agricultural engineering and precision farming, as part of the government’s UK strategy for agricultural technologies.

The Agri-EPI Centre aims to become a world-leading centre for excellence for the livestock, arable, aquaculture and horticulture sectors.

Project lead, Willie Thomson of Harbro said: “In five years’ time this quickly growing sector will be worth £2.3bn globally and Agri-EPI intends to help drive that growth.”

See also: Government unveils £160m ‘agri-tech’ strategy

The centre will bring together expertise in research and industry, as well as data-gathering capacity in all areas of farming.

It will explore how to optimise the performance of the highly complex production and processing systems in agriculture.

This will include key drivers of profitability, such as livestock and plant growth rates, nutrient efficiency, product quality and health.

Initial areas of interest will include technologies such as automated vehicles, new instrumentation to monitor both operations and in-field performance of cropping systems, as well as sensing and imaging technologies to monitor livestock production.

The centre’s core members are Scotland’s Rural College, Harper Adams University, Cranfield University, Harbro, AgSpace Agriculture and Kingshay Farming.

A central feature will be a series of farms and processing facilities equipped with the latest sensing and imaging equipment.

These sites will help identify issues for research, but also provide locations to develop and demonstrate technologies to UK farmers.

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