The new agrimetrics centre of excellence for big data in the food and farming industries has been launched by George Eustice MP, minister for farming, food and the marine environment, and George Freeman MP, parliamentary under secretary of state for life sciences.
Agrimetrics has been awarded £11.8 million by the UK government through Innovate UK. Its founding partners are Rothamstead Research, the University of Reading, the National Institute of Agricultural Botany (NIAB) and Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC).
The centre has already attracted interest from 190 companies. It will work with partners across the food system to promote use of big data and analytical tools as a way of understanding the needs of farmers, food manufacturers, food retailers, consumers and the environment.
This high-value information is expected to lead to more innovative projects among agrimetrics partners and to contribute to a more highly intelligent, productive, efficient, resilient and sustainable system.
Centre will give agriculture the edge
Mr Eustice said:
British farmers are increasingly making use of data to help them manage and grow their business, from predicting weather trends, to assessing soil qualities and using the very best feed types.
This new technology has contributed to efficiency gains and will help us drive up the value of our food and farming industry, already worth £100 billion to our economy.
Agrimetrics is based at the Lawes Open Innovation Hub, at the Rothamsted research site in Harpenden. Reading University will host the data science infrastructure, and NIAB and SRUC will provide knowledge exchange and outreach services to the farming community at the national level.
Ian Meikle, head of agriculture and food at Innovate UK, said:
Using big data will give the agricultural sector the evidence-based edge. The insights from this can drive productivity and growth in the sector, benefiting the economy and consumers.
Pioneering projects win £17.8 million
A scheme to assess the potential to commercialise farming of lobsters, a proposal to cultivate scallops on ropes and a way of continuing to make whisky with UK wheat are among a number of projects to win £17.8 million funding.
They were among 21 successful bidders for £17.8 million awarded as part of the Agri-Tech Catalyst programme.
Mr George Freeman MP, parliamentary under secretary of state for life sciences, said:
By harnessing science to reduce water and pesticide usage, and to pioneer greener modern farming, the UK is leading the way in boosting agricultural productivity. Investing in pioneering agri-tech projects like these is win win for the UK as these technologies will improve food production and create businesses and jobs up and down the country.
The Agri-Tech Catalyst was set up by Innovate UK, the Department for International Development and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) with a £70 million investment to help make the UK a world leader in agricultural technology, innovation and sustainability.