Applications have opened for the latest round of funding from the Transforming Food Production Challenge for the development of future food production systems.
The latest round of the challenge opened on the 16th September for future food production systems that have the potential to transform current methods of production by improving sustainability and productivity.
The Transforming Food Production Challenge is run by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) as part of the government’s commitment to boost R&D spending to 2.4% of GDP by 2027 and aims to help the agricultural sector grow economically with less environmental impact.
Dr Helen Ferrier, the NFU’s Chief Science Adviser, is a member of the Transforming Food Production advisory group:
"This funding round should draw out the best, brightest and most ambitious ideas from the science and technology community, not only in agriculture but also from other sectors too. It’ll be essential to understand the future needs and potential of the British food and farming industry and the market it can supply in the decades to come. I’m really pleased that this competition directly focuses on the challenges in delivering our industry’s net zero vision. To play our role in addressing climate change, I strongly believe there must be collective effort from across government, industry, science and society. This type of competition adds an important incentive to collaborate on one of the most critical issues of our time.
The forthcoming Science and Technology into Practice competition should be of particular interest to farmers and others in the industry, as a chance to get funding for the often difficult step of translating knowledge and innovative solutions into commercial application on the ground. Without this step, it is impossible to achieve a true return on the investment that goes into research."
The £90 million fund was announced by Greg Clarke, then BEIS Secretary of State during the keynote speech of the NFU 2018 Conference, to accelerate the development and adoption of new resource efficient, low emission production systems that will simultaneously meet the needs of a growing population whilst helping the agricultural industries goal to achieve net zero emissions by 2040.
Katrina Hayter, Challenge Director, Transforming Food Production at UKRI:
“The UK needs to become more efficient and environmentally sustainable in the food it produces. By harnessing the best of British bright ideas, we can improve productivity, open up new markets and help meet the nation’s ambitious net zero emissions target.
“This competition is a great opportunity to showcase fantastic innovations that will help transform agriculture across the UK.”
The remit includes the increase of sustainable productivity of both crop and farmed animal production through innovations such as the integrated use of new digital technologies, sensors, artificial intelligence, machine learning and robotics.
Previous innovative ideas that have won funding include a project called Tuberscan, which will scan potatoes underground ensuring they can be harvested at the right time.
The Transforming Food Production challenge would particularly welcome large-scale ambitious and integrated projects to demonstrate the art of the possible in terms of future food production systems.
The Science into Technology and Practice competition will open on the 28th October 2019. It aims to strengthen ties between farmers, researchers and businesses to develop approaches to improve productivity and transform food production.