A ‘ground-breaking’ ceremony has today commemorated the start of construction on a new £3.2 million agri-informatics facility at Cranfield University. The new facility will provide the UK with a centre of excellence in data science related to precision agriculture. 

Cranfield and its partners will use the facility to increase data quantity and quality, while using innovative informatics to support novel business, management and policy approaches in the agricultural sector. The new facility will be the home of the National Reference Centre for Soils and associated Land information system, LandIS. It will be shared with Agri-EPI Centre who will focus on agri-tech research and innovation.

Funding for the facility has come from Innovate UK, Agri-EPI Centre, the Wolfson Foundation and the University itself, with construction being completed in 2019. 

The ‘ground-breaking’ ceremony was led by George Eustice MP, Minister of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food; representatives of Innovate UK and Agri-EPI Centre; and Professor Sir Peter Gregson, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of Cranfield University.

Farming Minister George Eustice, said: “Protecting and nurturing our nation’s soils is a cornerstone of our future farming policy. This new agri-informatics facility will help us develop the science, research and innovation that we need in this area, combined with the lessons that have been passed down through generations. 

“As we work towards delivering our ambitious 25 Year Environment Plan, I look forward to continuing our essential work with Cranfield University.”

Professor Sir Peter Gregson, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of Cranfield University, said: “Cranfield has a proud tradition of making world-leading contributions to the environment and agricultural sectors, recognised earlier this year by the award of our fifth Queen’s Anniversary Prize. This new facility will play a key role in addressing future research challenges and will be an invaluable resource in achieving the goals set out in the Government’s 25-year Environment Plan.”

Ian Cox, Innovation Lead of the Agri-Tech Centres: “Innovate UK is proud to be a significant funder through the Agri-EPI Centre of this joint facility which is focusing on innovation in agri-tech. This new facility will once completed help address some of the major challenges facing agriculture globally. Soil Health is becoming internationally recognised a key contributor to improving crop productivity and quality so I am especially pleased that the National Reference Centre for Soils will be housed in this new facility.”

David Ross, CEO of Agri-EPI Centre Ltd, said “Agri-EPI Centre is the UK lead Centre for Agricultural Innovation across precision and engineering technologies. We are delighted to both contribute, and be actively involved in this new facility. With our partners, this platform will allow us to meet the national and international productivity and sustainability challenges in the agri-food sector.

Agri Epi ground breaking
Agri-informatics ground-breaking

Notes for editors

About Innovate UK

Innovate UK is part of UK Research and Innovation, a non-departmental public body funded by a grant-in-aid from the UK government. more

Innovate UK drives productivity and economic growth by supporting businesses to develop and realise the potential of new ideas, including those from the UK’s world-class research base.

We connect businesses to the partners, customers and investors that can help them turn ideas into commercially successful products and services and business growth.  

We fund business and research collaborations to accelerate innovation and drive business investment into R&D.  Our support is available to businesses across all economic sectors, value chains and UK regions.

About Cranfield University

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