Produce World Group Ltd and Cranfield University, have been awarded funding by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA), for a Big Data project which will help accelerate farming yield and operational efficiencies.

The 3 year project: ‘Soil-for-Life Beta: Optimising Big Data to Drive Sustainable Intensification’, is one of 15 agri-tech projects which have been awarded a share of £18 million announced by Government as part of its Agri-Tech strategy.

Modern informatics has led to a rapid transformation of Big Data collection which has yet to be fully utilised in the horticultural sector.

The project team will undertake in-depth analysis of Big Data providing scientific evidence to support sustainable intensification and maintenance of soil health at a field, farm and enterprise scale.

Using advanced data management, agri-informatics and data mining approaches, the data derived from the horticulture and arable sector will be combined by the project team into an existing Produce World Ltd Soil Information Management System (SIMS).

It is expected that the findings will act as a catalyst for a step-change in the way that Big Data, currently generated and stored locally by UK Agri-businesses, is amalgamated and exploited, resulting in direct increases in marketable yield and operational efficiencies.

The use of Big Data has the potential to increase commercial benefits for the grower and increase efficiencies in the £9 billion contribution that agriculture makes to the UK economy.

Notes for editors

The SIMS to realise Soil-for-Life® is already established. Proof of concept is demonstrated via the Soil-for-Life® system developed by Cranfield University and Produce World via a Technology Strategy Board support Knowledge Transfer Partnership - rated as ‘Outstanding’.

Soil-for-Life® can be used to predict up to 70% of the variability of marketable yield within brassica cropping systems. This project will allow Soil-for-Life®  to be rolled out as a fully functional product to the wider Produce World Group Ltd grower base.

About Cranfield University

Cranfield University is a specialist postgraduate university that is a global leader for education and transformational research in technology and management.

Environment Doctoral Training Centre

This higher research degree is associated with our Environment Doctoral Training Centre (DTC). The Environment DTC provides a focal point for engagement and academic discussion for all students involved in environmentally-related research at Cranfield. It aims to encourage an effective and vibrant research culture, founded upon the diversity of activities and knowledge relating to the sector which characterise our research portfolio.

A tailored programme of seminars and events alongside the generic core skills training programme, provide those studying a research degree with a wealth of social and networking opportunities with Cranfield’s wider research community.