Agri-Tech unveils three Innovation Centres

Three more of the national Centres for Agricultural Innovation, planned under the government’s Agri-Tech Strategy, are due to launch during 2016.

They are the Centre for Crop Health and Protection (CHAP) and the Centre for Innovation Excellence in Livestock (CIEL), both based at the National Agri-food Innovation Campus at Sand Hutton near York (formerly the Central Science Laboratory), and the Agricultural Engineering Precision Innovation Centre (Agri-EPI) with hubs at Cranfield University, Harper Adams University and the Edinburgh campus of the SRUC.

The first of the Centres, Agrimetrics, was launched at Rothamsted Research last October. It is jointly managed by Rothamsted, the University of Reading and the SRUC. The government intends that the centres will collaborate with each other on many projects - much innovation happens at the cross-over of disciplines, it notes and agri-tech is no different. 

“As well as creating capacity in the UK to translate agricultural innovation into commercial opportunities for UK businesses, the three new centres will stimulate inward investment and help to revolutionise farming practices in the future,” says a spokesman. “The government’s investment will finance world-class laboratory equipment, IT hardware and software, and the facilities to test and develop new agricultural technology and products.”

CHAP represents a £21.3 million government investment into the management of crop threats such as pests and diseases, both in the UK and overseas. Commercial partners include Dow AgroSciences, Bayer CropScience, Farmcare, Frontier Agriculture, Tesco and Unilever, alongside the AHDB, CABI, FERA, Newcastle University and Rothamsted Research.

CIEL has £29.1m national funding aimed at creating new livestock technologies and products to lift the profitability and productivity of livestock farming. Partners include Aberystwyth University, AFBI, AHDB , Duchy College, FERA, Harper Adams University, Newcastle University, Queen's University Belfast, the Roslin Institute, Rothamsted Research, SRUC and the universities of Bristol, Leeds and Nottingham.

The £17.7m investment in the Agri-EPI is designed to stimulate the fast-moving precision agriculture sector in order to help the UK’s agri-food industry develop advanced technologies to increase productivity and sustainability in UK agriculture. As well as the three academic partners hosting hubs, commercial partners are AGCO, AG Space, Kingshay and Harbro, plus the AHDB levy board.