Farmers invited to share challenges with pioneering technology group

FARMERS and those working in agriculture are being urged to come forward with ideas on how technology can improve their industry as part of a pioneering project.

A UK engineering firm known for its world-first innovations is part of an initiative looking to develop ways technology can help farming and the environment.

Forth, based in Cumbria, has worked closely with farmers and the agriculture industry throughout its successful 20-year history.

Now Forth is applying its problem-solving thinking and cutting-edge technology to help farmers across the UK.

The opportunity has come about through Forth joining the Tees Valley Innovation Accelerator programme where partners include the TWI Innovation Network and Teesside University.

The new technology is likely to combine Forth’s latest developments in robotics and Artificial Intelligence (AI), as well as utilise its expertise in hydraulics.

Peter Routledge, Forth’s Innovations Programme Manager

Peter Routledge, Forth’s Innovations Programme Manager

Peter Routledge, Forth’s Innovations Programme Manager, said: “At Forth we are specialists in bespoke hydraulics and robotics for diverse industries including agri-tech. Through the TIA programme, Forth will be exploring innovations in robotics linked with Artificial Intelligence and big data and we will receive specialist support to develop our concept through partnership and public funding opportunities.

“We are looking for interesting projects and agricultural partners to support, and be involved with agricultural diversity projects to help improve sustainability and prosperity.

“We are happy to meet with interested groups virtually or face to face when restrictions allow, whether that’s Young Farmers groups or agriculture businesses to hear their ideas.

“There’s a wide spectrum of opportunity across all forms of agriculture whether that be relating to livestock or arable farming.

“It could be anything from how you look after sheep on the high fells more effectively to crop enhancements and treatment which can improve yielding or how energy savings can be made by using renewable power sources. The project has no limitations on innovation. It’s all about improving sustainability and making cost savings.

“We want farmers and those working in agriculture to get in touch about any problems or issues they encounter every day, from tasks which could be made easier, or processes which are an inefficient use of their time, money or resources.

“If they’ve ever thought that they could do with a specific tool or technology for a certain job, then we would like them to tell us about it and we might be able to develop a solution.”

Peter said: “There could also be lessons learned from farming in other parts of the world. The TWI Innovation Network is looking for Forth to get involved in projects in Bangladesh. There must be learning from there and other parts of the world which can be applied here.

“We are keen to encourage that cross fertilisation of ideas from diverse industries and different parts of the world and apply them to provide solutions to challenges faced by farming and agriculture in the UK.

“We would encourage anyone who has an idea, or a particular challenge, or would like us to join a webinar or attend their group so they can find out more, to get in touch.

“It’s very exciting to think about the positive difference technology can make and what can be achieved if we share our challenges and ideas.”

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