An East of England agri-tech partnership is sharing in £18 million UK government funding to harness Big Data to boost farming yields and operational facilities.
The project is felt to hold significant opportunities for growers and also agriculture’s contribution to the UK economy, which already stands at £9 billion a year.
Peterborough-based Produce World Group Ltd and Cranfield University in Bedfordshire have joined forces for the DEFRA-inspired initiative.
Their three-year project: ‘Soil-for-Life Beta: Optimising Big Data to Drive Sustainable Intensification’, is one of 15 projects awarded a share of £18 million announced by Government as part of its Agri-Tech strategy.
A Cranfield spokesperson said that modern informatics had led to a rapid transformation of Big Data collection, which had yet to be fully utilised in the horticultural sector.
The project team will undertake in-depth analysis of Big Data providing scientific evidence to support sustainable intensification and maintenance of soil health at a field, farm and enterprise scale.
Using advanced data management, agri-informatics and data mining approaches, the data derived from the horticulture and arable sector will be combined by the project team into an existing Produce World Ltd Soil Information Management System (SIMS).
It is expected that the findings will act as a catalyst for a step-change in the way that Big Data, currently generated and stored locally by UK Agri-businesses, is amalgamated and exploited, resulting in direct increases in marketable yield and operational efficiencies.