As part of the Industrial Strategy for Agri-Tech, £12 million is being awarded to a consortium of business and academia to establish and run the Centre for Agricultural Informatics and Sustainability Metrics, to be based at Rothamsted Research. The consortium includes Rothamsted Research (Harpenden, Hertfordshire), University of Reading (Berkshire), National Institute of Agricultural Botany (Cambridgeshire) and Scotland’s Rural College (Edinburgh).
The Centre will enable the use of data, science and modelling to build a more intelligent and therefore more productive, sustainable and efficient food system. The Centre will also design and set internationally recognised metrics, in collaboration with other global centres and international organisations, to drive the needed behaviour change in the sector to deliver sustainable food production. These metrics will position the UK as a leader in this field.
The huge amount of data generated from the laboratory to the farm to the retailer has the potential to drive innovation throughout the agri-tech sector. For example, benchmarking information allows farmers to compare their own performance with local, regional and national averages.
Lorna Friis, ESRC Programme Manager for the Nexus Network says
From a nexus angle, there is the potential for a huge amount of social science research to connect with this Centre. For example around consumer food purchasing data, food traceability and consumer standards, understanding barriers and drivers to uptake of new technologies, on-farm indicators of sustainability including financial, energy use, water use, yield and biodiversity. I look forward to seeing how the Centre develops.
For full details of the announcement, see the Agritech Strategy blog.
Image credit: With thanks to thinkpanama on flickr.