Funding for new innovations set to help farmers tackle food waste

Posted: 28 June 2019 | | No comments yet

New funding will support innovative farming projects including using electricity instead of herbicides to tackle destructive weeds.

New technologies are set to help UK farmers cut down on pollution, minimise waste and produce more food thanks to a £22 million government investment, with Science Minister Chris Skidmore anncouncing the first 31 projects to benefit from the government’s Transforming Food Production Challenge, a £90 million Industrial Strategy fund to help businesses, researchers and industry to transform farming and meet the needs of a growing population.

“The UK is a global leader in technological innovation, as well as being the first major economy to introduce plans for a legally binding target to reach net zero emissions and end the UK’s contribution to global warming entirely by 2050,” said Chris Skidmore. “The projects announced today will ensure we lead the way in supporting our vital farming industry, delivering high quality food for consumers while reducing the wider environmental impact.

“This is a key part of our modern Industrial Strategy, investing in ground-breaking projects, creating highly skilled jobs and providing a cleaner, greener future for generations to come.”

The announced projects will have a share of the £22.4 million to develop their innovative projects, with industry partners contributing a further £8.8 million. They include:

  • Rootwave, which will use a £690,000 grant to use electricity instead of chemicals to kill weeds via the roots avoiding damage to crops
  • Tuberscan, which will use £391,000 to develop a ground-penetrating radar, underground scans and AI to monitor potato crops and identify when they are ready to harvest. This technology could increase the usable crop by an estimated 5-10 percent and reduce food waste with minimal extra cost
  • A project in Middlesex, which will use a £233,000 grant in its project to help cows graze without farmer supervision by placing sensors on farm gates that communicate with GPS trackers on cows to open and close gates allowing cattle to graze freely
  • aiScope, which will use a £1 million grant to apply AI and analysis to tackle the common cereal weed, Blackgrass, potentially saving farmers £580 million a year.

“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,” added Farming Minister Robert Goodwill. “Today’s funding will enable more investment in new technology, helping lead to scientific breakthroughs that could transform the sustainability of global food supply chains.”