Agri-EPI’s Academic Partnership Manager, Wendy Hewitson, recently hosted Olds College of Agriculture and Technology, Lakeland College Canada, and Canadian Agri-Food Automation and Intelligence Network from Canada, for an innovation tour of the UK, covering over 1,000 miles in four days.
The aim of the Smart Farm tour was to showcase agri-tech companies within Agri-EPI’s network, including the innovation farms and various tenants within the Agri-Tech Innovation Hubs, across Scotland and England. These visits focused on the latest agri-tech that is being developed and implemented across commercial farms in the United Kingdom.
The tour started in Scotland, visiting the Northern Agri-Tech Innovation Hub where the delegation met Agri-EPI centre staff and agri-tech companies including Beta Bugs, Rhizocore Technologies and Crover. The group then visited Bowhill Farm near Selkirk, Scotland, that is a part of the wider Duke of Buccleuch’s estate. This farm visit involved a tour of the facilities to see how a working farm is incorporating agri-tech into day-to-day business operations to support the future of agriculture (click here for more information on agri-tech solutions for sustainable farming).
This was followed by a visit to the Midlands Agri-Tech Innovation Hub, in Shropshire, where Les Hurdiss, the Hub’s Operational Manager, provided a tour of the facilities and engineering workshop space. Rebecca Lewis, Head of New Business at Agri-EPI, gave talks about the wider support and funding landscape. The morning was concluded by a visit to the Dairy Research Facility at Harper Adams University, and an afternoon in Wales at Beacons National Park to showcase Newton Farm, one of Agri-EPI’s innovation farms, with Ross Robertson, Head of Mixed Agri-Tech at Agri-EPI.
The final day of the Smart Farm UK tour focused on showcasing technology capabilities for increasing productivity and efficiency of farming. This involved a visit and tour of Godminster Farm in Somerset, led by Peter Cheek, a manager at the farm, and a visit to Agri-EPI’s Southwest Dairy Development Centre led by Robert Morrison, Head of Dairy, and Charlie Bowyer, Livestock and Aquaculture Business Development Manager at Agri-EPI. Here, the delegation saw the technology and its capabilities in supporting sustainable, efficiency, high welfare, and cost-efficient milk production.
“Supporting and hosting the Pan-Canadian Smart Farm delegation was a huge opportunity to showcase how the work at Agri-EPI Centre is centred not only around our agri-tech innovation hubs and the SME’s we support, but also our far-reaching network of commercial farms that play an integral part in our thriving ecosystem nationally. We work with farmers to ensure they have a voice, are directly involved in technologies that can be applied, and have a direct impact not only on their business, but to a much wider audience globally.
No matter where you live in the world, or what type of farming business you operate, the systematic challenges within the sector are borne by the farming businesses from the soil upwards.
Working closely with stakeholders globally like the Pan-Canadian delegation ensures that the reliance, interoperability, and robustness of future technology is able to solve or alleviate those inherent problems from a collegiate approach.”