Data service opens up new opportunities
Data specialist Agrimetrics is one of four centres for agricultural innovation founded with an initial investment from Innovate UK and founding partners are NIAB, SRUC, Rothamsted Research and The University of Reading.
It has strategic partnerships with Airbus and Microsoft and is a participant in Microsoft’s AI for Earth programme.
Prof Richard Tiffin, chief scientific officer, explains: “Agrimetrics has built a data market place that allows organisations to connect, share and monetise their data safely and equitably, while innovative search tools make it easier for analysts to find the information they need.
“The basis for the market place is data will only be shared transactionally with value received in return for making data available.
“It uses the latest linked-data technologies, which makes connecting disparate data simpler and enables clients to create bespoke data sets from multiple sources to meet their specific needs.” This data market place has already helped organisations to develop a number of farm management tools, such as BASF’s wHen2Go tool, which provides field-specific guidance on whether to apply quinmerac and metazachlor to oilseed rape.
Agritech company Glas Data uses Agrimetrics’ Field Boundaries combining satellite imagery with advanced machinelearning algorithms to map more than 2.8 million fields across the UK.
Glas Data can add many other datasets to form a complete picture of each field with just a few clicks.
Then, by pulling in data such as historical weather patterns and predictive models, they can make accurate and intelligent decisions about each field.
Fresh produce specialist Barfoots has worked with Agrimetrics to use artificial intelligence and data to improve the efficiency of their international product supply chains, as head of agronomy Harry Wilder explains.
He says: “We are able to achieve 94% accuracy on harvest date prediction for our sweetcorn crop in Senegal, four weeks ahead of harvest, which is six weeks ahead of delivery to the UK.
This advanced forecasting gives us time to make proactive supply-chain decisions that enable us to reduce crop waste and increase sales to customers.” Our previous system was not digitised, but having proven the concept we are looking at rolling this out to other countries and eventually to other crops and our UK cropping.” Agrimetrics used Barfoots’ existing growth cycle data and combined it with weather and satellite data to create models for harvest prediction and Mr Wilder says that while the company has plenty of its own data sources, it has historically been difficult to bring it together.
He says: “As fresh produce is a small sector, we have to drive innovation ourselves.
We know data science is as important as bioscience, and being able to use a data service such as Agrimetrics avoids exposing our business to the high costs of developing bespoke data management technology ourselves.” Prof Tiffin acknowledges the challenges for farmers include the need to trust those who seek to collect their data, the technology must be accessible and produce actionable insights, and growers must receive fair and realistic reward for their input.
He says: “We are hoping to create a safe and fair space for data sharing through our data market place.
“The market place is Iso27001 and Cyber Essentials accredited, we are a Microsoft Partner and our platform includes powerful permissioning function so data providers know their data is safe and retain control over exactly who uses it and how it is used.”