Published by David Dunning
12th October 2018.
Access to safe and affordable food is something we all take for granted.
However, with more mouths to feed now than ever before, achieving this is no easy task.
To meet our increasing demands, with minimal environmental footprints, the way that we grow crops is changing.
To help drive this change, one of the Government’s four agri-tech Centres CHAP (Crop Health and Protection) has invested, with the support of Innovate UK, in two new ventures based at Stockbridge Technology Centre at Cawood, a leading applied R&D facility based in the heart of North Yorkshire.
Selby and Ainsty MP, Nigel Adams, is the guest of honour at the official opening today.
Vertical Farming Development Centre
Across the UK, hydroponic systems, along with the latest LED lighting technology, are beginning to be combined to produce certain crops in ‘urban farms’.
Operating independently of sunlight and seasons, food can be produced in these facilities 12 months a year, under conditions that have been optimised to grow safe and healthy produce in as shorter time as possible – giving a whole new meaning to the term ‘fast food’.
To operate effectively, these urban farms will need to take advantage of the very latest in modern technology, employing sensors to monitor crops and robots to manage operations such as harvesting. CHAP’s new ‘Vertical Farming Development Centre’ will mean that growers, food producers and researchers will be able to determine how these different technologies will impact the economics of LED vertical farming.
The aim is to develop technologies which will reduce production costs whilst maximising profits, potentially on a large scale.
Advanced Glasshouse Facility
CHAP’s Advanced Glasshouse Facility with a flexible design and multiple ‘bolt-ons’ that will allow new approaches to crop production and crop protection strategies to be tested and demonstrated to farmers.
The modern glasshouse recognises that the future of crop production is likely to be less reliant on synthetic inputs of chemicals and more reliant on combining different techniques, such as plant breeding and use of natural products and beneficial insects, to produce healthy and sustainable food.
These more complex crop protection strategies require more detailed and delicate testing procedures to show that they’re effective; this new facility will allow this work to take place across both field and glasshouse crops, including those now being grown in ‘hydroponic systems’, where plants are produced without soil.
CHAP (Crop Health and Protection) is one of the Government’s four agri-tech centres.
Their aim is to increase crop productivity for future generations through the uptake of new technologies. They work with pioneers to translate and promote these solutions for market adoption and improved crop productivity