With the world’s resources running thin, the human population on track to be reaching 10Bn by 2050, and 800M people already estimated to have insufficient food, agricultural optimisation is a difficult but necessary task. Doing so in a manner that doesn’t damage the planet is even harder. New technologies are transforming the process of crop and animal management, with drones offering real-time visual insights into flock management and plant health, sensors constantly monitoring soil quality, advanced robotics starting to grow foods without human input and artificial intelligence optimising the use of resources. This track will present cutting-edge use cases of technology deployment in agriculture and consider what could be done to make food production more efficient – and more sustainable.
Programme Manager, Allia
Divisional Marketing Manager, Anglia
Business Development Manager, 30MHz
Cofounder and CEO, Breedr
CTO and Co-founder, LettUs Grow
Gold Sponsor: Anglia
Anglia is the UK’s leading independent authorised distributor of semiconductors, optoelectronics, interconnect, and passive and electromechanical components. A signatory of the ADS SC21 programme, the company holds AS9120, ISO9001 & ISO14001 accreditations and IECQ-CECC qualification.
Technically adept, with an experienced team of staff, Anglia supports OEM and EMS companies in every sector of electronics manufacturing. Anglia's suppliers include some of the world's leading electronic component brands, complemented by many smaller companies with leadership in their chosen technologies.
Anglia stocks over 1 Billion components from more than 900,000 product lines in the UK. Components from every supplier are stocked in depth and breadth for same-day dispatch. Anglia aims to streamline logistics and reduce customers' transaction costs through services that include KAN-BAN, EDI, and customer-dedicated inventory, while an accurate, on-time delivery performance is a vital goal for the company.
Technical support spans a sampling service that delivers over £150,000 worth of free evaluation parts each year and expert technical advice from well-trained product specialists and face-to-face guidance from field applications engineers. Both commercially and technically, management of industry legislation and component obsolescence are recognised as areas of vital importance to customers.
Anglia is driven by an ethic of ever-improving customer understanding and, as a privately owned business, aims to provide a fast, consistent and highly responsive service.
Supporting Partner: Agri-Tech East
Agri-Tech East is supporting the growth of a world-leading network of innovative farmers, food producers & processors, scientists, technologists and entrepreneurs with a shared vision of improving the productivity, profitability and sustainability of agriculture. We aim to help turn challenges into business opportunities and facilitate mutually beneficial collaboration. We are an independent, member-led organisation catalysing innovation in agriculture and horticulture. We do this through brokered connections, a diverse open events programme including the annual REAP Conference, and member-exclusive opportunities such as profile and invitations.
Andrew Pockson, Divisional Marketing Manager, Anglia
IoT - The sensors to create the data and the solutions to implement delivery
Agri-food is both one of the fastest growing areas of the Internet of Things and an area with the greatest opportunity for further development. Inputs to fields and farm animals can be controlled completely precisely, to maximise yields, reduce costs and in many cases minimise environmental impact. Achieving further progress relies on the application of the right sensing solutions, to measure all the relevant parameters with sufficient precision, processing that data intelligently, then using further sensors and switches to deliver the inputs required in the right place at the right time. Anglia will discuss examples of IoT solutions that support the first and last of these: sensors to create the data and solutions to implement delivery.
Steve Archer, Business Development Manager, 30mhz
Digitising Agriculture, do it yourself
30MHZ believes that in order to accelerate adoption of digital tools in industries and geographies that are currently low tech a DIY approach is necessary. Consumers have digitised themselves very successfully, largely down to strong product offering, we are trying to learn the lessons from these successes and apply them to Agri businesses.
Ian Wheal, Co-founder and CEO, Breedr
What’s your beef? Using smart contracts to build trust in food value chains
Farmers still have to rely on eye and weight to judge when an animal is ready for market. Breedr is digitising livestock production. By using machine learning and smart contract technologies it is building an online trading platform that will make it easier to produce livestock that meet customers specifications – with less waste and lower environmental impacts – improving trust and transparency from field to plate.
Ben Crowther, CTO & Co-founder, LettUs Grow
LettUs Grow: Building the farms of the future
How LettUs Grow's aeroponic technology allows farmers to grow crops faster and more efficiently.
Agri-food is one of the last sectors of the economy to become fully digitised despite exhaustive requirements from regulators, retailers and others in the value chain for data. This creates a major opportunity for non-traditional players to support the industry, as will be shown at the CW International Conference on 26 June.
Farming is data rich, but often this information is in silos, collected for a specific purpose and then not accessible for reuse. Additionally much data is still collected on paper or simple spreadsheets and analysis and deeper insights are not easily available.
Transparency and traceability are vital for quality assurance and improved tools for prediction could greatly benefit the sector.
Agriculture is a high-tech industry, increasingly some of the most advanced (and expensive) technologies can be found on the farm, in dairies and in processing factories. This includes: drones and imaging to enable real-time crop yield mapping, robotic harvesters to provide 24/7 attention and use of earth observation solutions to monitor and manage plants and animals.
The digitalisation of agriculture is not new – for years UK farmers have had to comply with strict regulations recording the application of crop inputs, movement of livestock and interventions for countryside management. These records are managed online via various Government and private sector portals, so agriculture is already a highly data rich industry.
Mapping of fields for changes in the soil type, drainage and weed burden has meant that most farm offices have walls papered with brightly-coloured images showing different areas of fields needing (ideally) different management regimes.
But the 4th agricultural revolution currently underway is seeing this data being used more effectively to help inform on-farm decisions, as well as capturing information at a much higher level of granularity than ever before.
The ability to deploy precision techniques to different parts of a field, or to provide a health intervention to an individual animal or bird, is creating a major opportunity to increase efficiency, welfare and help increase environmental sustainability. More tools and better techniques are required to help farmers gain actionable insights.
Decades of weather and yield data are being used to inform predictive growth models for crops such as potatoes, wheat, sugar beet and salad crops. These models will, in time, enable a reduction in “just in case” over-planting to meet demand and reducing waste from over-supply; currently a major issue for the industry.
Importantly, as agri-food supply chains become increasingly global and commoditised, predictions for anticipated yields from individual farms, regions or countries will help inform and improve management of the massively complex movements of food products and ingredients around the world from farm to fork.
Issues of trust and provenance are never far away when it comes to food, farming and countryside management, and new tools such as blockchain have the potential to ensure good practices by farmers globally, supporting full traceability of the product until it reaches the consumer.
Already being applied to the production of tea, blockchain is potentially poised to disrupt the industry in unprecedented ways to help manage the supply chains more efficiently and provide complete oversight of everyone handling the product.
Agriculture has suffered from a reputation of being low value, low tech and being undertaken by lower skilled people. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Technology is increasingly being used to vary the application rate of seed and crop protection products across different parts of a field according to need. The same precision is now being applied to livestock; aligning feed rations and medications to the health status of individual animals. Agri-food is an industry that is embracing the digital economy.
The opportunities within the sector are increasing and there has been significant investment over recent years. This is why Agri-Tech East, an independent business-led membership organisation and Allia, a social enterprise facilitator, are delighted to present the agri-tech session at the CW International Conference: ‘Digitising Industry’ this year and provide an introduction to this vibrant sector. We have a great story to tell – and have assembled a team of highly qualified speakers to present this message, including:
- Steve Archer, Business Engineer, 30MHz
- Ian Wheal, CEO & Co-Founder, Breedr
Ben Crowther, CTO & Co-Founder, LettusGrow
We look forward to meeting you there. People who are new to agriculture are also invited to Agri-Tech East’s whistle-stop tour with insights into the industry and its needs and opportunities at our "Agriculture 101" session on September 17th at the Future Business Centre in Cambridge.
This blog has been contributed by Andrew Pockson, Divisional Marketing Manager for Anglia who are gold sponsors of CWIC 2019's Agriculture track.
Agri-food businesses aim to deliver healthy, quality outputs on a sustainable and resource-efficient basis. Modern communication technologies connecting advanced sensors and cloud based servers are as essential as tractors to these businesses.
Cost effective, robust and compact sensors detect a host of environmental parameters including motion, temperature and more. Omron has just released a single sensor that returns values on seven different environmental parameters from a single compact module. Sensors such as those from Figaro can accurately detect the presence and level of a specific gas or group of gases.
Powering these sensor modules can be a challenge, as not all agricultural settings offer ready access to mains power. A convenient alternative to battery power is energy harvesting using sunlight, thermal or kinetic energy. Solar panels from Littelfuse supported by integrated circuits (ICs) from STMicroelectronics or Analog Devices have proved highly effective.
Having collected the data, it needs to be transmitted to a central point. Wireless solutions are preferable – both because of the remote location of some of the sensors and because of the vulnerability of wired infrastructure to damage. Bluetooth, WiFi, LoRa or cellular infrastructure might be the most appropriate approach depending on the range. ST and others offer appropriate low-power, long-range wireless connectivity solutions.
Having processed the data, the central server can influence the environment by adjusting the inputs: deploying water or chemicals as required or adjusting the climate by increasing the level of heating, ventilation or lighting. The ST portfolio of power management and motor control solutions for actuation offer an ideal front end.
Using such technologies, inputs to fields and animals can be controlled completely and precisely to maximise yields, reduce costs and minimise environmental impact.
Anglia offers technologies to measure all the parameters relevant to modern farming with precision, to transmit the data to the cloud for processing, and to control the environment in response to the resulting analysis. Meet the team at CWIC 2019.