National Centre for Precision Farming

The Role of the Centre


The Centre has two main roles. On the one hand, it promotes and evaluates the use of technology as a vital aspect of precision agriculture, building upon the university's reputation as an innovator in the field of engineering. Its work in the area of robotics in crop scouting and dairy production, for example, is already well-known in the agri-food sector. It has also developed automatic steering systems which use GPS, and can measure to within an accuracy of 2cms which sections of the field have been sprayed, resulting in less chemical wastage.

Using new technologies in this way can help improve and reduce the cost of food production by targeting inputs - doing the right thing, at the right time, in the right location. This is beneficial to both the bottom line as well as for the environment, as it aims to make the production process more efficient.

In arable farming, the concept reduces the size of management zones from farm, to field, to sub field areas. In livestock the obvious management unit is each individual animal. By utilising smarter machines it is also possible to improve the delivery of information to support better decision making.

The Centre's second role is to provide a focal point for the industry; offering a place for agriculturalists to meet and source information, and gathering and disseminating good practice from within the UK and abroad. To achieve this it has recently recruited experts in the fields of controlled traffic management, mechatronics and hydraulics.

Mission Statement

The Centre’s Mission is to establish global visibility and excellence in education and training, research and development, innovation and enterprise in precision farming and its exploitation in addressing regional, national and global farming and food security issues for the benefit of future sustainability and regard for energy conservation, environmental protection and global climate change in relation to food production needs and issues of nutrition.

Intrinsic components of the mission can be seen in relation to innovation and the opportunities to embrace technological developments and new concepts, such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and its prospective role in addressing important needs for agricultural and food development. By way of instantiation, a recent study  on meeting future food security has pointed to a five-step global plan  that could double food production by 2050 while greatly reducing environmental damage. The five steps presented in this global plan are:

  1. Controlling the agricultural footprint
  2. Improving the yields of existing farmland
  3. More effective and efficient use of resources
  4. Shifting diets away from meat
  5. Reduction in food wastage

Aims and Objectives

The Aim of the Centre is to fulfill its mission in establishing a world-class facility for education and training, research and development, innovation and enterprise in enhancing precision farming and its exploitation in addressing regional, national and global farming and food security issues for the benefit of future sustainability and regard for energy conservation, environmental protection and global climate change in relation to food production needs and issues of nutrition.

The core objectives relating to the Centre are:

  1. To define and develop the principles and practice of precision farming and deliver a premier programme of internal and external education and training.
  2. To establish a facility for high quality applied research and development, research training and thought leadership in precision farming, with collaborative agri-network links to other centres.
  3. To establish a facility for innovation and enterprise with particular reference to translation of research findings into exploitable farm-based products and services.
  4. To define, develop and deliver Centre consultancy, industry and laboratory support services with a particular focus upon regional and national business development and growth.
  5. To  define, develop and deliver a facility for promoting and providing visibility for the Centre, linking with University promotion and marketing support activities, and specifically targeting precision farming and developments in an approach that brings in and exploit concepts like ‘smart’ and ‘smart integrated’ farming.

Contact: Lee Williams
Business Development Officer
t: 01952 815244

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