Precision agriculture in Telford
Precision farming will play a key role in the sustainable transformation of the global agricultural sector and Telford provides an ideal access point to this innovation-led opportunity.
The UK is one of Europe’s biggest agricultural markets and has a population of professional farmers and growers ready to adopt new sustainably focused, precision agri-tech solutions. Telford provides access to precision farming innovation, with strengths in agriculture, advanced engineering and technology development.
Telford (West Midlands)
Foreign direct investment
Sector and market opportunity
Agri-tech is a fast-growing sector with global markets forecast to reach £217 billion during 2021. Using agri-tech solutions, precision farming plays a vital role in growing crops more sustainably and efficiently.
Telford has the infrastructure and capabilities to develop these solutions for the UK and global agri-tech markets.
Companies here can contribute to a technological revolution in precision agriculture with the design and development of:
- satellite positioning systems
- variable rate technology
- energy management systems
- remote sensing
- automated steering systems
Precision farming is expected to be worth £170 billion globally by 2050. This will create a clear pipeline of projects for novel agri-tech solutions that meet the sustainability requirements of the global market.
The region provides a gateway opportunity for the design, build, testing and operation of technologies on-farm with 10% of England’s farmland area and a high agricultural gross value-added.
The West Midlands contains 430 automotive firms, 150 aerospace companies, and 325 plastics and polymer companies. It is part of an end-to-end food supply chain, with farmers supplying to 350 food and 120 beverage manufacturing firms in the region.
The region has a cluster of SMEs that feature leading national and food production firms including Kuhn, Cargill, Saputa and Agricultural Magnetics.
Telford’s central position ensures companies can gain competitive advantage through physical distribution and connection to supply chains.
The Telford international Rail Freight Terminal offers direct links to the national rail network, major seaports, and key locations in Europe.
Rail travel times to major cities are short: London is 2hrs 10mins away, Birmingham 45 minutes and Manchester 2hrs 20mins.
Local talent and skills
More than 45,000 engineering professionals are in the West Midlands.
Harper Adams University is the UK’s largest specialist university in agricultural engineering. It is home to the National Centre for Precision Farming (NCPF) providing world-leading research and partnerships with businesses and universities in both crop and livestock production.
Research and expertise
The Agricultural Engineering Precision Innovation Centre delivers research, development, demonstration and training on precision agriculture and engineering for the livestock, arable, horticulture and aquaculture sectors.
Ni.PARK offers ideal grow-on space for agri-tech companies, with incubation space and high-specification manufacturing and research units.
The Hands Free Hectare project is the world’s first to plant, tend and harvest crops with only autonomous vehicles and drones. The project grew from 1 hectare in 2017 to 35 hectares and 5 fields by 2020.
The Midlands is home to the largest number of medical technology and device companies in the country. The region is ideally placed for the distribution of manufactured goods, reaching 92% of the UK population within 4 hours. Birmingham is at the heart of one of the UK’s largest infrastructure projects, HS2, and hosted the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
Enabling clean growth
Decreasing land and labour availability is driving demand for more productive and sustainable agricultural solutions. This is creating a market for transformational automation solutions.
The Telford agri-food ecosystem services this demand with opportunities to design and test products, network with major players and sell innovations to a significant customer base.
Local and national government support
The UK government has committed to being at the forefront of the global move to high-efficiency and sustainable agriculture.
Local partners can also offer fast, responsive, deal-focussed development-ready land deals, innovation support and collaboration and partnership opportunities with a rich network of local agri-tech businesses.
MagGrow is an Irish business specialising in agricultural spraying using radical, patented, magnetic based technology.
The company has established its own UK Agricultural Research Centre and its expanding team is developing intellectual property and associated technology.
Earth Rover was established in partnership with Harper Adams University and the RAL Space Autonomous Systems Group, at the AgriEPI Centre Midlands Hub. It developed autonomous farming robots adapted to carry precision tools and integrate with an intelligent data platform.
UPL is the fifth-largest crop protection company in the world and a global leader in BioSolutions for sustainable agriculture, with a presence in 138 countries, employing more than 10,000.
Its UK R&D facility is close to Harper Adams University, serving its Northern European business.
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