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£22.4m Government fund to encourage uptake of new agri-tech

Defra wants the £22.4 million investment to bring about new technologies which will ’transform farming and meet the needs of a growing population’.

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£22.4m Gov fund to encourage uptake of agri-tech

Millions of pounds have been set aside by the Government to encourage farmers to move towards agri-tech in a bid to cut down on pollution, minimise waste and produce more food.

 

Defra wants the £22.4 million investment to bring about new technologies which will ’transform farming and meet the needs of a growing population’.

 

It will contribute towards providing greener, cleaner processors for the sector, helping towards the Government’s commitment to a target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

 

Projects so far include Warwickshire-based Rootwave, which will use £690,000 to use electricity instead of chemicals to kill weeds via the roots, avoiding damage to crops, and Tuberscan in Lincolnshire, which will use £391,000 to develop ground-penetrating radar, underground scans and AI to monitor potato crops and identify when they are ready to harvest.


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It is expected to increase usable crop by about five to 10 per cent, and reduce food waste with minimal extra cost.

 

aiScope, a project based in Sheffield, will use £1m to apply AI and analysis to tackle black-grass, potentially saving farmers £580m a year.

 

Farming Minister Robert Goodwill said: “Agri-tech can help us address the biggest challenges facing the agriculture industry, such as eradicating crop pests and diseases for arable farmers without harming the wider environment.

 

Breakthroughs

“In 2018 we saw the total value of agri-tech investment worldwide skyrocket to $17 billion – an increase of 40 per cent on the previous year.

 

“[The] funding will enable more investment in new technology, helping lead to scientific breakthroughs that could transform the sustainability of global food supply chains.”

UK research and innovation chief executive Professor Sir Mark Walport said farmers needed to produce food in more resilient, sustainable and efficient ways through reducing emissions and pollution, minimising waste and improving soils.

 

Rob Edwards, business development manager of agriculture at Kubota UK, said the evidence of the long-term positive effects of technology on farm performance must be communicated to farmers.

 

He added: “This is likely to enhance their trust in it, and in turn, they are therefore more likely to adopt it.”

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