Fourth round of Agri-Tech projects
There have been 21 successful R&D bids for the latest £17.8 million round of financial support from the government’s £70m Agri-Tech Catalyst pot. The UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK, selected the commercially promising new technologies that it believes can provide an economic boost to UK agriculture.
The three successful bids in the Late Stage category include Saturn Bioponics and ValeFresco on a project to prove the Saturn Grower vertical growing system can benefit commercial fresh produce growers and Sharp Laboratories with Lincolnshire Herb, APS Salads and the May Barn Horticultural Consultancy on a project to improving hydroponic horticultural production using a new online nitrate sensor. The third bid, to develop real-time information systems for precision pig production, involves Farm Energy & Control Services (Farmex) and ARM Buildings, together with veterinarians the Garth Pig Practice and pig producers DC & RJ Allen & Partners, J M Sankey Fmrs, DA & EM Skinner, Stockcroft and Yorkwold Pigpro.
The 11 projects under the Industrial Research category include Limagrain UK, Rothamsted Research and the Scotch Whisky Research Institute working on a three-year investigation into novel low viscosity wheats for distilling; Germinal Holdings and Aberystwyth University collaborating on innovative plant breeding and phenotyping technologies to reduce the nutrient requirement of forages and improve livestock production efficiency; the British Limousin Cattle Society and SRUC working on improving female fertility and calf survival in the UK beef industry; Terravesta Assured Energy Crops, Bell Brothers Nurseries, Edwards Farm Machinery, Aberystwyth University, Nutriss and CERES on Miscanthus Upscaling Technology - using seed rather than rhizomes to propagate the crop - and Syngenta, AGCO and the universities of Southampton and Aberystwyth exploring benchmark scenario planning in primary production to create sustainable change.
Among the seven early stage projects to be funded are a feasibility study to develop remote sensing technology for predicting wheat yield by Selex ES and SOYL, a division of Frontier Agriculture; Dunbia (Wales), Farm Wizard and the University of Nottingham working to develop and validate a system for the automatic detection of lameness in sheep and Russell IPM, East Malling Research and the Natural Resources Institute in the UK working with Russell IPM and Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Agricultural University in Bangladesh on the application of general semiochemical repellents against agricultural pests.
Ian Meikle, head of agriculture and food at Innovate UK, comments: “By supporting these project partnerships – many of which include small businesses – Innovate UK is backing British solutions for agricultural challenges. These schemes are helping to create new jobs and will open up new markets and drive productivity.”
The full list of projects and rationales can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/pioneering-projects-in-food-and-agriculture-win-178-million