Robotic killer beams, smart bird scarers, and lamb genetic markers feature in this month’s Agri-TechE Innovation Hub

Scott Kirby, Harper Adams University, is demonstrating their work on biodiversity net gain for landowners. Credit: Harper Adams

A robot firing light beams to kill weeds, a smart bird scarer, a novel way to reduce lamb loss, new tools in the fight against viruses, and alternative crops and water management for wetlands, are among the technologies and ideas in the spotlight this month.

The Agri-TechE Innovation Hubsponsored by BBRO, is at the Royal Norfolk Show on June 26 and 27.

It is curated by membership and networking organisation Agri-TechE, which supports a world-leading network of innovative farmers, producers, scientists, technologists, and entrepreneurs who share a vision of increasing the productivity, profitability, and sustainability of agriculture.

Director Dr Belinda Clarke explains, “Sustainable production is a key feature this year, and to achieve this requires active collaboration.

Farmers are at the heart of our membership organisation, and many of the technologies being shown at the Innovation Hub are co-developed and tested in the field with end users.

We look forward to hosting visitors over the two days of the Royal Norfolk Show and to gaining their input on the future direction of agri-tech.”

Dr Alistair Wright, of BBRO, is helping lead the fightback against virus yellows. Credit: BBRO

Exhibitors include:

CLAWS robot accurately targets weeds with killer beam – Earth Rover

Pulsed light is used to spot and kill weeds in commercial trials of the Concentrated Light Autonomous Weeding and Scouting (CLAWS) robot from Earth Rover, based in Shropshire and Yorkshire. The lightweight robot uses 3D cameras and advanced AI to monitor the crop and identify and destroy weed seedlings at an early stage, without the need for chemicals.

CLAWS provides per-plant crop data with incredible speed and accuracy.

Smart scarer overcomes the curse of the woodpigeon – Greenstalk

Woodpigeons cause a significant loss of yield. Gas cannons are widely used to scare pests but are time-consuming to check and maintain. Greenstalk, in Norfolk, has helped farming business Frederick Hiam Ltd to develop a smart scarer that can be monitored remotely.

The ‘Internet of Things’ solution enables data to be collected from tractors, sprayers, irrigation systems and water tanks and transmitted over the internet. This enables the farmer to monitor equipment in real-time via a smartphone and react quickly to problems.

Reducing loss of lambs with genetic markers – 3CR Bioscience

49% of lamb mortality occurs within the 48 hours after birth – devastating for farmers and economically impactful. A new tool, developed by 3CR Bioscience, of Essex, makes it easier for breeders to detect recessive gene variations that can be lethal when present in both parents.

Raising a ‘wall of yellow’ against sugar beet diseases – BBRO

There could be a yield loss of 30-50% for sugar beet growers this year due to a resurgence in Virus Yellows, a disease spread by peach potato aphids. Norfolk-based BBRO will be discussing alternatives to the neonicotinoid seed treatments and showing a ‘Wall of Yellow’ to demonstrate advances in seed breeding.

Smart water management for food and the environment – Broads Authority

As a record-breaking wet winter follows one of the hottest summers, the Broads Authority says smart water management and alternative crops could provide solutions.

High water tables create difficulty for some crops, but with appropriate planning, permissions, and investment excess could potentially be used as a supply for the dry summer periods. There will be a discussion of the FibreBroads project.

Creating next-generation insulation from wetland crop plants – Ponda

Ponda is a biomaterials company from Bristol developing novel textiles from truly regenerative fibres.

Its first product, BioPuff®, is a warm, naturally water-repellent alternative to feather and synthetic fillers. It is created by extracting fibres from plants, such as Typha, that are grown on regenerated wetlands.

Biodiversity net gain – Harper Adams University

Harper Adams will be showing their work on metrics for biodiversity net gain.

It is increasingly becoming possible for farmers to monetarise the ‘natural capital’ associated with their businesses.

Harper Adams University is partnering with Cranfield University to look at how advanced remote sensing and modelling could allow landowners to monetarise and manage both high and low water flows in a catchment.

Agri-TechE brings together farmers and growers with scientists, technologists and entrepreneurs, creating a global innovation agri-tech network.

Previous articleCamsafe provides an innovative and unique solution to detect water leaks, saving clients thousands