Farming gets a technological boost

31 July 2020 | Muriel Cozier

UK Government is ‘working with the best of British science.’

Innovative agri-tech projects in the UK are benefiting from £24 million of government funding. During July, the UK Government announced that nine projects applying big data, AI and robotics in the UK farming sector were benefiting from funding awarded through two competitions: the Future Food Production Systems competition and the Science and Technology into Practice Demonstration competition. The aim is to move food production systems to net zero by 2040, producing food in a more efficient, resilient and sustainable way.

Projects benefiting from funding include Robot Highways, led by Saga Robotics, receiving £2.5 million to perform the ‘largest known global demonstration of robotics and autonomous technologies on a farm. The robots will assist farmers by carrying out essential, energy intensive physical farm processes such as picking and packing of fruit and treating crops to reduce critical pests and diseases. A project led by Deep Branch Biotechnology will receive more than £2 million to use carbon dioxide from the Drax Power Station as feedstock to produce food for fish and poultry. The CO2-to-protien process has no requirement for arable land and has minimal water usage. The project team will work with retailer Sainsbury’s as well as the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre to integrate the product into the fish and poultry supply chain.

Science Minister Amanda Solloway said ‘…the incredible projects we are backing today represent the future of farming. Working with the best of British science, we are turning our most creative ideas into pioneering projects that will accelerate our transition to net zero food production, boost jobs and drive forward the UK’s economic recovery.’

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