Posted 10 March 2016
Student working on a Precision farming project at Harper Adams University
A new innovation hub for agricultural technology is being built at Harper Adams University, thanks to funding from the Government’s Strategy for Agricultural Technologies.
Under a partnership deal, industry and academics, including those at Harper Adams, will work together to create a new global centre for agricultural engineering and precision farming, using £17.5 million of funding over the next four years.
The Innovation Hub at Harper Adams is being built to serve the Agri-EPI Centre project – backed by the Government’s Business Innovation and Skills Department, which aims to become a world-leading centre for excellence in engineering and precision agriculture for the livestock, arable, aquaculture and horticulture sectors.
As well as drawing on expertise specific to these sectors the innovative project also involves partners in related industries such as supermarkets and vehicle engineering.
Initial areas of interest will include cutting edge technologies such as automated vehicles (drones), new instrumentation to monitor both operations and in-field performance of cropping systems, as well as sensing and imaging technologies to monitor livestock production in areas such as product quality and health.
Of the facilities being built at Harper Adams, Vice-Chancellor Dr David Llewellyn said: “The Agritech Innovation Hub will provide a world-class innovation centre that will underpin an increase in the economic performance and competitiveness of UK farming through development and uptake of advanced engineering technologies aimed at solving current challenges faced by UK farming.
“It will provide a national focus for collaborative applied research and development between industry and academia, demonstration of new technologies and their integration in to precision farming systems, including their economic benefits through the network of satellite farms.
“An important role of the Hub will be to increase farmer uptake of innovative technologies to increase the overall benefits to UK farming. We will undertake participatory workshops with farmers and smallholders to allow them to jointly create a vision for the use of new technologies in agriculture alongside scientists and engineers.”
A central feature of the Agri EPI Centre project will be a series of farms and processing facilities equipped with the latest sensing and imaging equipment. These sites will enable the Centre to identify issues for research, but also provide locations to develop and demonstrate technologies to UK producers, supporting the rapidly expanding global market for these technologies.