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Holdsworth Associates

Holdsworth Associates

21/02/17  ‘Bring out your data,’ farmers encouraged at Big Data SIG

Agri-Tech East brings agri-businesses and data analytics together for workshop on 21st March.

How to use images from a phone camera to estimate potato yield, analyse text messages to get closer to your customers and create scenarios to meet market demand profitably – these are some of the challenges to be discussed at the Agri-Tech East ‘Big Data’ workshop on 21st March at Lawes Innovation Hub, Rothamsted Research. Data analysis experts will be on hand to help farmers and others see how data gained in different ways can provide new insights once combined.

After presenting several short case-studies, data experts including Agrimetrics, Smith Institute and Institute for Environmental Analytics will be asking farmers about what they want to discover from their data.

Photographs of canopy cover is the way that David Flanders, CEO of Agrimetrics, says that his organisation has been helping potato growers. The images captured by smartphone can be used to predict yield.

He says: “Agrimetrics has access to information about metrology, soil characteristics and varietal data. If the farmer is able to provide the date of emergence and photograph the canopy using a mobile phone then the system is able to give a yield prediction.”

Colin McKinnon (pictured), CEO of the Institute for Environmental Analytics, says analysing text messages was the way his organisation helped agriculture start-up ‘WeFarm’ to further improve its peer to peer advice service for small-scale farmers in developing countries.

He explains: “We analysed their data traffic to look for patterns and find out which questions were regularly being asked by farmers. For example, ‘the monsoon is particularly long this year – what’s going to happen to my yield?’ or ‘there has been little rain, what should I plant next season?’

“Presentation is very important in data visualisation. It has to be intuitive, so we used word clouds to illustrate the most common topics in approximately 160,000 messages.”

The Smith Institute is currently working with G’s Growers on a model to reduce waste in the production of Iceberg lettuces, using G’s own data to develop optimal production schedules and a ‘what if’ scenario engine to help consider different management strategies. The model will help G’s to mitigate against potential shortfalls in crop availability.

Business Development Manager Dr Cristina Sargent comments: “Maths can be used to solve real life problems. We have in-depth conversations with a prospective client to understand the challenge they are facing and what they would like to achieve. We will then design a solution which may be a combination of models, algorithms and data.”

Data analysts from these leading organisations will be available to discuss with farmers, agri-businesses and other interested parties how to integrate data to extract value. As the UK’s first and largest agri-tech membership organisation, Agri-Tech East is the ideal catalyst.

Agri-Tech East’s ‘Big Data SIG: Bring Out Your Data’ will be held on 21 March at Lawes Innovation Hub, Rothamsted Research, in Harpenden, Hertfordshire. If you wish to benefit from data analytics, please register for the event at: