Food for thought. Agri-technologies have the potential to transform food production.
The science and technology industry play a major role in the global race to increase food production, improve the environment, minimise waste and boost competition. Agri-tech can help world food security through the development of new technologies that will help provide enough food for a growing population.
Agri-tech plays a part in all our everyday lives from our breakfast cereal, to a caffeine fix or chocolate treat. These simple things in life are supported by agricultural processes and technology, together with a depth of research to help ensure that our food is safe to eat and is produced as efficiently as possible.
Midlothian and Agri-Tech
Technology is advanced and varied and covers innovation relating to agriculture from robotics to improving crop yields.
Greengage Lighting Ltd is one example; based at The Roslin Institute, the company provides induction powered “clip on” lighting and sensors to livestock farmers.
Lighting is an important system within large scale intensive farming and Greengage are market leaders providing cutting edge products that enable farmers to better grow food and improve animal welfare while running a sustainable and profitable business. Greenagage's ALIS LED lamps clip onto inductive power systems delivering reliable, energy efficient and suitable lighting for poultry, pig and cattle livestock.
Another example is Well Cow, a subsidiary of the Roslin Foundation, and based at Roslin BioCentre. The company was established to introduce new technology to improve animal health monitoring.
The Well Cow bolus remotely monitors cattle herds, rumen pH and temperature, allowing optimisation of nutrition management for cows to improve their health and welfare. Farmers can use the data to optimise the diets for their cattle and consequently improve production efficiency and ultimately the profitability of their business.
The Agri-Tech Catalyst was set up by Innovate UK, DFID and BBSRC with £70 million investment to help make the UK a world leader in agricultural technology, innovation and sustainability. The funding scheme helps businesses and researchers commercialise their research and develop innovative solutions to global challenges in the agri-tech sector.
GALVmed (Global Alliance for Livestock Veterinary Medicines), located at Pentlands Science Park, is a global not-for-profit organisation that works to improve access to pharmaceuticals, vaccines and diagnostic products to livestock keepers in developing countries.
The company was the lead in a Agri-Tech Catalyst project 'Vaccine diluent improvement for ECF-ITM'. East Coast Fever (ECF) is a major constraint on small-holder cattle production in East, Central and Southern Africa. An effective vaccine, ECF-ITM, currently exists for the disease but it has a number of important drawbacks that affect its use in the field.
This project will trial the use of novel formulations as a replacement for the ECF-ITM vaccine diluent. Success in the project will deliver important ECF-ITM vaccine product enhancements, notably vaccine stability. This will afford far greater mobility and flexibility to ECF vaccinators resulting in an estimated 300,000 additional cattle being effectively immunised per year.
Centres for Agricultural Innovation
The University of Edinburgh's Easter Bush Campus hosts two agri-tech centres - the Agricultural Engineering Precision Innovation Centre (Agri-EPI) and the Centre for Innovation Excellence in Livestock (CIEL).
Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) is a core partner and a hub for the Agri-EPI Centre, a consortium of key organisations in the field of precision agriculture and engineering.
The Centre brings together expertise in research and industry, as well as data gathering capacity in all areas of farming, to increase the efficiency and sustainability of the land-based industries. aims to become a world-leading centre for excellence in engineering and precision agriculture for the livestock, arable, aquaculture and horticulture sectors.
CIEL aims to bring together leading international academic centres and industry supporters to deliver sustainable increases in the productivity of the livestock sector in the UK and internationally.
Through genetic improvements and genomic technologies, reduction of the burden and impact of infectious diseases, improved nutrition and better farming systems will be developed to answer crucial livestock sector challenges.
The Large Animal Research and Imaging Facility (LARIF) on the University of Edinburgh’s Easter Bush Campus is part of CIEL and the Wellcome Trust Critical Care Laboratory for Large Animals is based within LARIF.
The Roslin Institute will host CIELivestock’s Informatics Hub, to support livestock genomics and informatics, and provide training to individual breeders, farmers, recording and breeding companies in their delivery of genomic improvement.