Coinciding with the G7, Future Farm at Duchy College, which uses the latest agriculture technology to research efficient and sustainable farming methods, is one of the projects being showcased this week.
Representatives from the Agri-Tech Cornwall Project and Truro-based agri-tech business Glas Data are exhibiting at Cornwall House.
Cornwall House, which runs between 9-14 June, provides a showcase for the best Cornwall has to offer, shining a light on Cornwall as a renewed region with a rich heritage and innovative green energy, mining, agri-tech, food and drink, space and aerospace.
“Agriculture has the potential to be part of the solution to the climate crisis, and we are keen to show G7 delegates how the research we will carry out at the Future Farm in Cornwall will help farmers make informed choices about how they manage their land,” said Dr Robin Jackson, Director of Agri-Tech Cornwall and Duchy College’s Rural Business School.
Future Farm aims to improve efficiency, welfare and technological advancement in dairy farming. The £3.6m development which opened in November last year, is home to three dairy herds. The facility, supported by the European Regional Development Fund, Department for Education, Cornwall Council and the Council for the Isles of Scilly, will focus on teaching and research as well as having a commercial emphasis as a working farm.
With support from Innovate UK and the Centre for Innovation Excellence in Livestock, Duchy College has been working with Glas Data and its hardware technology partner Ver Facil to install a cutting edge agricultural technology platform at the Future Farm, to trial low cost sensors that monitor everything from animal housings and slurry management to the fields and waterways. The sensors use long range, low power technology and communicate using the Internet of Things.
“The new generation of sensors are a cost-effective way for farmers to understand what is happening around their farm, allowing them to act quickly to improve productivity or mitigate risks,” explained Glas Data’s founder Colin Phillipson. “The challenge with data is always how to analyse it quickly. Our dashboard brings all of the data into one place, so it is quick and easy for farmers to understand it and take action.”
As well as using sensors to monitor simple issues like the temperature of the animal housing, more complex issues will be monitored, including trialling sensors to assess how slurry can be managed to minimise its contribution to greenhouse gas emissions. Soil health, including its potential for carbon sequestration will be the focus of research, as will the Future Farm’s impact on its water catchment working closely with the Westcountry Rivers Trust.