23 November 2018
A tomato harvesting robot is just one of the technologies being explored in the Network+.
(Credit: Dr M Stoelen, University of Plymouth)
With nearly 20% of the world’s population, but less than 10% of its farmland, China faces enormous challenges to feed its growing population, reduce the environmental footprint of its agricultural sector and meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The challenges facing China are echoed around the globe.
Funded as part of STFC’s Newton Agri-Tech programme, the Agri-Tech China Newton Network (Network+) has created 12 new UK/China private/public partnerships and a network of almost 600 businesses and research organisations in areas such as climate-smart and precision farming. The latest phase of work is creating a prototype agri-tech information system for farmers. While the focus has been on UK/China, the developments from the Network could be applied to other parts of the world.
Robotic technology to harvest and propagate crops could solve the chronic labour shortage which faces China’s farming sector. Developed by Plymouth University and Fieldwork Robotics Ltd, a tomato harvesting robot has been tailored for use in China and successfully demonstrated at Sunqiao, Shanghai.
STFC’s 5-year Newton Agri-Tech programme is capitalising on the UK’s strengths in remote sensing, robotics and other space-enabled technology to help make agriculture smarter and more sustainable in China and beyond. Coordinated by staff at STFC’s Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, the STFC programme comprises five major projects, covering precision agriculture and other technology, pests and diseases and climate resilience. The Agri-Tech in China Newton Network (Network+) forms a sixth element, which is focussing on developing new UK-China partnerships and enhancing the impacts of the wider programme.
Last updated: 25 February 2019