Food producers will be able to apply for grants of up to £500,000 (€584,025.91) for innovations in smart farming under a UK-China partnership.
Responding to projected growth in global demand for food products of 60% by 2050, the scheme – to be jointly delivered by the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology and Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency – will provide support grants to Sino-British research and innovation partnerships working to develop smart farming technologies. Efforts will be focused on integrates precision farming technologies which support sustainability and emissions reduction. Export opportunities for agrifood products will also be considered as a factor.
Hunger is considered a significant priority by China’s Science and Technology Ministry, which has pledged to work to address the issue of food security worldwide. Options recommended by the partnership for funding applicants include:
- New precision technologies for indoor farming, facilitating crop planting, transplanting and harvesting, watering or application of fertiliser;
- Growing farmers’ capacity to exploit big data in order to improve overall productivity;
- Knowledge expansion and sharing in the field of robotics systems for agriculture, deploying robotics for tasks such as pest detection, planting and transplanting; and precision agrochemical applications;
- Optimising production in ‘smart pastures’, implementing innovations such as smart animal feeding systems, livestock analysis and improved animal welfare, environmental control technologies and innovations for the reduction of methane emissions; and
- Nutrient and crop growth monitoring and remote detection of factors such as soil health, crop yields, pests, water stress and weather conditions using smart satellites, sensors and drones.
Groups and projects applying for funding through the scheme must feature equal participation or effort from UK and Chinese participants and must collaborate with commercial end users in the UK, China or both countries, such as farms, laboratories and other research facilities; or demonstration sites. Funding applications will remain open until 15 January 2020.