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1st July 2016

SOYL-led project wins share of research funding

SOYL is part of a consortium which has been chosen to receive a share of £3 million of research funding. SOYL will lead a project exploring and developing new ways to improve food production using satellite technologies.

The ‘satellites to improve agri-food systems’ competition was jointly funded by Innovate UK and the Natural Environment Research Council.

Just over a dozen business projects, including the one led by SOYL, have won funding.

This competition links two key areas of innovation: ‘agriculture and food’ and ‘satellite applications’. Its main aim is to stimulate the development and adoption of new technologies and/or business models, based on the innovative use of satellite technology, which help to improve the productivity of the UK food and farming industries and simultaneously address the environmental impacts of increased land use and intensification.

Innovate UK is the UK’s innovation agency. Innovate UK works with people, companies and partner organisations to find and drive the science and technology innovations that will grow the UK economy – delivering productivity, jobs and exports.

SOYL is project leading a consortium including: University of Nottingham, ADAS, Remote Sensing Application Consultants Ltd and AHDB. The consortium will work on a project to examine historic satellite imagery and weather data to identify patterns within fields and trends in crop biomass variation and performance. Other layers of data such as soil and nutrient maps will be used to interpret the patterns of crop variation. Once patterns of crop growth have been identified they can be used to predict growth in future years.

Simon Griffin, technical manager for SOYL said: "We’re excited to be working with others and to secure the funding for this project. This will enable us to carry out ground-breaking research in an area that could deliver real benefits to farmers, the food supply chain and the environment."

It is expected the project may produce information which could enable:

  • Better targeting of inputs, such as nitrogen, based on yield prediction
  • More cost effective use of crop imagery
  • Economic and environmental benefits.
The project begins in October with a year-long feasibility study involving the consortium and Innovate UK. At the end of the year, findings will be evaluated to see if they can be translated into commercial opportunities on farm.

Simon Parrington, SOYL’s commercial director concluded: "Globally, we believe the UK is at the forefront in the practical application of precision agriculture technology. As industry leaders we will continue to support projects of this type as well as investing in our own extensive research and development programme."

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