Agri-Tech gets more precise

£50,000 grant funding for The Genome Analysis Centre to develop new field testing device, CropQuant.

The Genome Analysis Centre (TGAC), a renowned biotechnology Institute has been awarded almost £50,000 funding to make precision agriculture more efficient.

Recent technology advances in the Agri-Tech industry and precision farming have the potential to revolutionise crop research, plant breeding and growing practice – but these processes are restricted by lengthy field testing and phenotyping.

TGAC has been awarded funding from the Eastern Agri-Tech Growth Initiative to improve a recently invented in-field phenotyping device, CropQuant, (which analyses the health of crops and best conditions for growth), by making it more intuitive.

This device would solve substantial problems faced by agricultural practitioners including accurate timing for fertiliser and irrigation applications, the ability to spot pathogen infection earlier and responses to environmental stress such as frost, heat and weeds. The project could make a significant contribution to the global market of precision agriculture.

Based on Norwich Research Park, TGAC has a wealth of expertise in biosciences, bioinformatics, high performance computing and statistics. It develops and implements new technologies and applies computational methods to process, store and interpret data.

Mark Reeve, Chairman of the Eastern Agri-Tech Growth Initiative, said:

“The Genome Analysis Centre (TGAC) is a world-class research centre and I am pleased to be able to partner with them and offer funding to develop CropQuant further. The device will enhance in-field testing, allowing for greater accuracy and precision, whilst identifying threats to crops such as frost or pests. I look forward to seeing the results of TGAC’s research and the impact of the device on farmers and growers in the East of England.”

Dr Ji Zhou from The Genome Analysis Centre, commented:

“For TGAC, to continuously contribute and impact on the next-generation crop phenotyping technology sector, it is crucial that we can partner with the Eastern Agri-Tech Growth Initiative to develop novel products such as CropQuant to implement our visions of future precision and climate smart agriculture. I am delighted that we are the first BBSRC research Institute to win this grant, and we will work closely with local SMEs and agricultural researchers/practitioners to produce exciting and innovative Agri-Tech devices to promote regional growth.”

Chris Starkie, managing director of New Anglia LEP said:

“We are pleased to be investing in one of the key partners in the Norwich Research Park, to build on its global reputation of Agri-Tech innovation, food and health. The NRP has also recently been awarded Enterprise Zone status, the kind of research being done at TGAC will only help attract more businesses keen to be part in the exciting developments going on there.”

Cllr Jonathon Childs for Norfolk County Council noted that “TGAC’s application has been strong:  in its understanding of the needs of agricultural practitioners and evidence of close development work undertaken with them; in its desire to utilise the best in computing and scientific understanding to improve crop analysis; and determination to deliver a cost effective solution to the marketplace.”

The Eastern Agri-Tech Growth Initiative is run by the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Enterprise Partnership (LEP) with support from New Anglia LEP, Norfolk County Council, Cambridgeshire County Council, and the local authorities covering this area.

Grants are available to organisations looking to invest in specialist equipment, new market and supply chain development, ways to improve productivity and efficiency, and the application and commercialisation of Research and Development.

To find out how the Eastern Agri-Tech Growth Initiative could help to grow your business, visit www.agritechgrants.co.uk or call the LEP on 01480 277180.

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