Construction Begins On New Precision Dairy Facility at UK’s Harper Adams University

Daniel Butler
Sun, 27 May 2018
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Building work has begun at the Harper Adams University farm to create an innovative high-tech dairy unit.

 The £750,000 site, which will work in conjunction with Harper Adams’ current dairy unit, will assist the Agricultural Engineering Precision Innovation (Agri-EPI) Centre. In March, 2016, the Agri-EPI Centre secured £17m of government funding to help the UK’s agri-food sector develop technological innovations that will increase productivity and sustainability in UK agriculture.

The Centre will have bases in Edinburgh, Harper Adams University (the Agri-Innovation Hub, currently under construction) and Cranfield University. It will also be connected to a number of farms and processing facilities outfitted with cutting-edge sensors and imaging equipment – including the new precision dairy unit at Harper Adams, Shropshire.

 The new dairy unit will be one of three such facilities within Agri-EPI, the others operating under the auspices of Kingshay Farming in Somerset and SRUC in Dumfries.

 “The new dairy facilities within Agri-EPI will enable scientists, the dairy industry and agri-engineering companies to work together to develop the next generation of dairy housing and management,” explained Mark Rutter, Professor of Applied Animal Behaviour at Harper Adams University.

 The Agri-EPI Centre is the joint venture of leading UK organisations in the area of precision agriculture and engineering. It amalgamates respective expertise in research and industry, as well as data collection capacity, to enhance the efficiency and sustainability of the farming industry.

“A key concept will be developing technology that facilitates cow choice, as research has shown that this can improve milk production efficiency as well as improving animal welfare.”

The new facility will cost nearly £520,000 to build, with the final project cost reaching £750,000 once all equipment and other installations are accounted for.

“By integrating organisations on all levels of the supply chain the Agri-EPI facility will likely become a world-leading centre for innovation in precision agriculture for the livestock, arable and horticulture industries,” said David West, Senior Partner at Challenge Advisory. “This is not only great news for the UK’s agricultural industry; it is also a huge statement of the UK’s intention to lead the world on the precision technology stage.”