We collaborated in a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) with one of the UK’s largest vegetable growers and suppliers, Produce World. This KTP developed a soil information management system called ‘Soil-for-Life®’ (SfL) which received national recognition in November 2015.

Key Facts

    • We collaborated with Produce World, one of the UK’s largest vegetable growers and suppliers, in a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP).
    • The soil information management system 'Soil-for-Life®' (SfL) was developed combining our expertise in soil science database design and agri-informatics with Produce World’s expertise in contemporary horticultural production systems. It allows Produce World to sustainably manage its soils to optimise soil fertility, match crops to soil type, and so improve marketable yield of vegetables and the sustainability of its farming business.
    • This KTP won the RCUK (Research Councils UK) Research Base Impact Award at the Innovate UK Awards 2015, the UK’s flagship event funded by UK Trade and Investment (UKTI), last November in London.
  • Funded by Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) – via Innovate UK and 12 other public sector partners.

Impact of our research

We have collaborated with Produce World, one of the UK’s largest vegetable growers and suppliers, in a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP). This KTP won the RCUK (Research Councils UK) Research Base Impact Award at the Innovate UK Awards 2015, the UK’s flagship event funded by UK Trade and Investment (UKTI), last November in London.

It recognised our work in establishing a soil information management system 'Soil-for-Life®' (SfL) which allows Produce World to map, assess and monitor soils across the business. Soil-for-Life® (SfL) drives continuous improvements in soil health, crop production resulting in direct increases in marketable yield and operational efficiencies. SfL is underpinned by the emergent, innovative and interdisciplinary field of ‘agri-informatics’, in which statistics and database management techniques are used to exploit knowledge held in multiple ’big data’ sets.

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships Awards 2015 Winners

Left to right: Dr Sandra Messenger (Research and Innovation Office, Cranfield University), Dr Rob Simmons (Senior Lecturer, Sustainable Soil Management), Guy Thallon (Head of Research, Development & Innovation and former KTP Associate) and Jonathan Tole (Business Solutions Director, Produce World).

Why the research was commissioned

The UK-wide Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) programme links commercial organisations with academic institutions to help support and shape the future of British business. It aims to strengthen the competitiveness, wealth creation and economic performance of the UK by enhancing knowledge and skills, and stimulating innovation through collaboration.

The rationale behind this project was that Produce World would accrue advantages across their business by rendering their disparate soils-related data into a coherent framework, and connecting it with wider business data. Produce World also needed to access our knowledge and expertise specifically in the areas of soil systems, database management and agri-informatics to optimise crop productivity.

By accessing this knowledge and specific expertise, the partnership enabled Produce World to capture vital information from its land base and utilise this data and knowledge to provide a more scientific approach to field selection and crop management. Such information provided a platform for Produce World to develop soil improvement strategies, for example better matching of crop to soil type, improve soil health, optimise marketable yield, and minimise inputs to provide a positive impact on Produce World’s business performance.

Why Cranfield?

Our expertise in soil science, database design and agri-informatics, coupled with continuous knowledge exchange with Produce World, developed the soil information management system 'Soil-for-Life®' (SfL). This allows Produce World to make continuous incremental improvements in soil health and crop production resulting in direct increases in marketable yield and operational efficiencies.