The UK government has set aside about £24 million to fund various projects that will help reduce carbon emissions in the food production industry. These projects will help the UK achieve its net-zero target by 2050. In total, nine projects received these funds. There are:
- Autonomous Growing System
- Robot highways
- Production at the point of consumption
React-First is a consortium based in Nottingham led by a company called Deep Branch. Deep Branch, founded in early 2018 is a recycling company that deals with carbon dioxide recycling. They recycle CO2 into Protons used to create sustainable animal feed. They will receive over £2 million in funding from the UK government.
- Autonomous Growing System:
Autonomous growing system project was created by Optimal Labs based in London. Their focus is on creating technology that will help automate climate control, irrigation, lighting, and other factors to help various crops grow in areas that would not have been possible otherwise. This technology will also help the current greenhouses in and around the UK be more efficient in growing crops. It will also help protect the food system against factors such as climate change. Optimal Labs will receive around £2 million to fund this project.
- Robot highways:
This project is by Saga Robotics, whose head office is in Norway. Saga robotics introduces robots into the agricultural industry to help with the labour shortage, sustainability and security problems. Their main aim is to make farming more profitable, sustainable, reduce risk factors, and eventually produce high-quality and healthier food. The £2.5 million funds from the UK government will go toward the Robot highways project, which will showcase robots on farms to assist in physical activities such as picking and packing fruits. Robotics Highways is on a journey to create the first fully automated robotic farm where robots will perform most of the tasks and will be powered by renewable energy.
- Production at the point of consumption:
Production at the point of consumption is a project led by Evogro. Evogro is a UK based company that designs, develops and manufacture indoor plant growing systems. Their mission is to allow anyone to grow their plants ideally, even at a small scale—this way, reducing potential emissions from factors such as transportation or even packaging. Evogro will be receiving around £850,000 toward the “production at the point of consumption project” to develop the next generation systems that will be more affordable for new consumers and produce mainstream crops.
- InFarm2.x :
The InFarm2.x project is led by the farming business InFarm based in London. InFarm uses the latest in technology to grow various types of vegetables indoors. In addition, they have created tech that allows the climate to be tweaked to the perfect conditions required by each vegetable to grow. InFarm will receive around £3 million to improve their current system that will allow them to produce even a wider variety of fruits and vegetables in a vertically stacked manner. This technique where vegetables are grown in vertical rows and stacked on top of each other reduces the space needed to produce larger quantities and is known as Vertical Farming.
AGRI-SATT stands for Agricultural Growth using Remote-sensing, IoT, Satellite and Autonomous Telecommand Technology. The AGRI-SATT is a project led by SuSeWi and has multiple collaborators from academic institutions such as Southampton university to subcontractors such as BSC Global and Feed Algae Maroc. This project uses various environmental and algal production data to produce high quality produce on desert land. It uses a vast amount of natural seawater to create food and uses wind energy from the desert. In addition, this methodology is used to test the growth of vegetables in places that nothing grew before. This project will be receiving roughly £4 million from the UK government.
GelPonic is a project led by AEH Innovative Hydrogel based in Manchester. AEH was established in early 2018 and has won multiple awards for its innovative technology designed for agriculture and indoor farming. The GelPonic project aims to create technology that can improve the sustainability of production when using hydroponics systems for indoor agriculture. In a hydrophobic environment, the systems use products such as rock wool, peat and others, to support the plant roots and allow water movement. However, some of these products contribute to the carbon footprint, and GelPonic aims to tackle this problem. The project is receiving over £1 million to develop a sustainable material.
Remedy is a project led by a small family company called Quality Milk Management Services Ltd based in Bath, UK. They offer a DIY milk recording service and ad hoc milk testing services. They will receive over £1.7 million in funds to help perfect their technology for dairy farmers and get real-time data using wearable devices for cows to track behaviour and other factors such as nutrition.
Tuberscan-demo is a project led by b-hive innovations based in Lincoln, UK. B-Hive creates technology for agriculture using machine learning to solve challenges, such as storage systems. In addition, they customise the technology to solve any issues that farmers might be facing. The Tuberscan project will receive about £2 million to bring technology to farmers to visualise the crop they grow during all seasons. In addition, it will allow the farmers to see data such as the number of plants, yield etc. This will give farmers data to help them make better decisions on their crops.
Amanda Solloway, the Science Minister of the UK, said that the funding of the incredible projects represents the future of farming and will create jobs and drive forward the UK’s economic recovery. Farming Minister Victoria Prentis said it is excellent to see investments in such outstanding ideas that will help the UK tackle the most significant farming industry challenges.