UK gov invests £12.5m in agritech
The UK government is to inject £12.5 million into automatic and robotic technologies in the agritech sector, hoping to boost productivity, food security and sustainable farming practices.
The 19 winners of the government’s Farming Futures and Robotics competition will see a split share of the investment.
The projects include developing a system to accurately predict and enhance the quality of strawberry yields, and reducing waste, and optimising labour and harvesting schedules.
Drones, robotics and sensor technology will also see funding with uses including digital mapping and monitoring of vineyards, and a navigation system for field-based robotic vehicles to improve accuracy and reliability, as well as enable safe navigation in farmyard and field operations.
To reduce dependency on international supply chains, the UK government wants the country to continue to produce 60% of the food its population consumes, and says that it hopes that new technologies will help maintain the commitment.
“Farmers are always forward-looking, and innovation is key to driving a resilient, productive, and sustainable agriculture sector that puts food on our tables,” said farming minister Mark Spencer.
The Agritech sector has enjoyed increased investment as experts warn of a global food crisis, with stats showing that world-wide demand for protein is estimated to increase to 60% by 2050.
As it stands, more than 70% of all UK land is used for agriculture, with little room to expand.
Similar statistics apply to other countries globally, and it is a threat to sustainability and wildlife, with investigations showing that 800 million trees and 1.7 million hectares of Amazon Rainforest had been cleared in six years to support the world’s appetite for Brazilian beef.
Thus, technologies that will help optimise current farmland and reduce food waste are in great demand, with insect tech drawing in more popularity for helping reduce food waste and making agriculture more efficient.
Plus, there are start-ups with specially lab-grown mushrooms that can replicate meat using food side streams, and perhaps reducing the need for the amount of farmland needed for livestock.
Last week we reported on how one farm in the north of England is using connectivity and IoT devices to boost crop yields.
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