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Agri-tech advances in the spotlight in new NFU report

Posted 18 November

“Technology will have a crucial role to play in livestock farming so that UK farmers can compete with the rest of the world”

Experts from Harper Adams University have helped NFU Mutual produce a report on agri-tech, showcasing the university’s work in precision farming and agribusiness.

The report, part of NFU Mutual’s new agri-tech initiative, provides valuable insight and case studies to support farmers across the country.

The university’s advances in drone technology feature heavily in the report.

“Drone spraying technology allows us to target smaller areas that wouldn’t ordinarily be accessible,” says Jonathan Gill, mechatronics researcher. “At Harper, we have research projects looking at the capability of drones doing physical work for us; for example the safety around sprayer drones and using drones to carry things, such as food.” Jonathan has provided demonstrations of drone capability for the NFU, most recently during a visit in September as part of the organisation’s agri-tech initiative.

Professor Mark Rutter also contributed his expertise on agri-tech and animal welfare to the report. Mark explained how abnormal data gleaned from smartwatch-style monitoring devices on cows, produced with the help of IceRobotics, can help identify health issues in real-time, allowing illness to be contained.

“Technology will have a crucial role to play in livestock farming so that UK farmers can compete with the rest of the world,” says Mark. “These technologies are not about replacing the skills of the expert stockperson, they are about managing animals more effectively and efficiently.”

As well as practical agri-tech, the report focuses on agribusiness and how new technology might change the running of a farm. Harper Adams University is helping farmers to overcome issues with a new training course sponsored by NFU Mutual, running in partnership with the Worshipful Company of Farmers: Adopting Precision Technology in Agriculture.

“Many farmers are still cautious about the approach and the viability of investing in new technology,” says Simon Thelwell, Associate Head of Business Management, Agribusiness and Agrifood Management at Harper Adams. “But at Harper we’re helping farmers and agribusiness managers fulfil their precision vision with this training course which is run over three weeks with a visit to the Netherlands included.”

NFU Mutual also released a promotional video, filming for which took place at Harper Adams University.

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