Funding boosts fresh surge of agricultural innovation
Funding from the Eastern Agri-Tech Growth Initiative is spurring a new agricultural revolution in the region, backing ventures to boost a variety of crop production plays.
£101k has been awarded to help a North Hertfordshire based food firm expand its production. Rollagranola is a family business that produces a wide variety of granola recipes including gluten free, no added sugar granolas and other natural ingredients, with a focus on delicious home-grown, healthy foods. Rollagranola plans to expand production by acquiring a new premise in Hitchin.
The funding will enable the company to batch manufacture the product on a larger scale whilst continuing to source and use UK grown ingredients, such as apples, oats and honey. The aim is to build a sustainable brand in the food industry which will stimulate and encourage the development of home grown healthy foods, supporting the growing awareness in the minds of consumers that cheap food is not always the best food.
In a separate initiative, a Cambridgeshire business has received £60,000 from the Initiative to address the issue of food waste by harnessing the power of insects. Entomics Biosystems plans to convert food waste into three sustainable fuels for plants, animals and vehicles and reduce the amount of the food going into landfills.
To achieve this Entomics will use insects – specifically, the Black Soldier Fly, which has the ability to efficiently convert organic waste into fats and proteins inside their bodies. These compounds can then be refined into three high value products – animal feed, biodiesel and organic fertiliser – in a cheap, scalable and sustainable process. The project will offer an innovative alternative to current food waste disposal methods, which can be expensive, carbon-intensive and convert waste into substances with limited commercial value.
Entomics will use the funding to refine its prototype, conduct product testing and carry out research on the effectiveness of the Black Soldier Fly as a viable solution to food waste.
In a third venture, a West Suffolk estate is set to become a regional research & demonstration hub for potato growers and suppliers, thanks to funding from the Initiative.
The project, coordinated and co-funded by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board’s Potatoes Division, has been awarded £109,273 and will be located at Elveden Farms. It will provide a unique opportunity for the industry to see the latest research innovations and practical science in action. The site will promote improved business and agricultural productivity and resource management, alongside providing a space for knowledge exchange and collaborative working.
Elveden Farms is a world-class producer and purveyor of local and regional food excellence with a reputation for wildlife conservation, in harmony with sustainable farming practices – making it the ideal location to establish a Strategic Potato (SPot) Farm.
The SPot Farm is a practical, farmer-driven project which is all about giving growers the confidence to implement changes on their own farms. It builds on a wealth of evidence based upon AHDB Potatoes scientific research.
For more about the Eastern Agri-Tech Growth Initiative visit www.agritechgrants.co.uk or call the LEP on 01480 277180.
• PHOTOGRAPH: The Entomics team