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Agri-Food Study Group with Industry

The Knowledge Transfer Network

Wednesday, 21 February 2018 at 09:30 - Friday, 23 February 2018 at 16:30 (GMT)

Agri-Food Study Group with Industry

Registration Information

Registration Type Sales End Price * Fee Quantity
General Delegate Ticket 21 Feb 2018 £45.00 £0.00
Emeritus Delegate Ticket 21 Feb 2018 Free £0.00
Staff Ticket 21 Feb 2018 Free £0.00
* Prices include VAT

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Event Details


Although Agri-Food might have traditionally been viewed by some as a low-tech industry, the reality is very different. The Agri-Food industry is making rapid advances to adopt cutting-edge technology, to help it address the challenges it faces, such as feeding a rising world population, reducing environmental impacts, and improving food quality and safety. For example, agriculture is already utilising cutting edge technologies such as satellite imaging to monitor crop growth, and robots to milk cows, and many other technologies are under development and likely to be introduced in the coming years. 

As with other industries, all these technologies generate massive data sets, and have the potential to make food production systems more complex. Thus, there is an increasing need for agriculture to work with other sectors to turn ‘data into decisions’ that can help the farmer.

At the KTN Mathematics in Agriculture Workshop at Harper Adams in 2015, Professor Graeme Wake commented that “Modern-day applied mathematics can be used with high impact on farm systems and precision agriculture. It provides excellent decision-support tools and brings a degree of rigour to the industry, which has often been lacking in the past. The agricultural industry has been relatively late in choosing to bring mathematics to bear on the processes involved”.

The First Agri-Food Study Group with Industry was held in January 2017, and a write-up can be found here.



Representatives from industry will present their problems on the first day. Researchers in mathematical, statistics, engineering, computer science and related areas will work together towards practical solutions, and first steps in approaching problems. Early stage career academics, Ph.D students, and postdocs are particularly welcome.

The Problems 

  • Phytoponics - Aeration Optimisation

Phytoponics Hydrosac is a hydroponic growing system module that holds a body of water to grow plants in. At the base of the module is an integrated aerator, which consists of a perforated strip of material that receives external air input from an air compressor, and emits bubbles to the body of water such that oxygenation of the water occurs.

The scope of this challenge is to develop a mathematical model of the aeration system of the Hydrosac, including volumetric flow rate, input pressures, aerator strip material design parameters and costs therein, such that Phytoponics can use this model to improve the aeration of the Hydrosac design and select supporting ancillary air supply services or system parameters.

  • Syngenta - Scheduling Seed Production

Syngenta are one of the largest suppliers of agricultural seed globally. A key requirement of the business is the adequate supply of seeds to meet varied customer demands throughout the world. Scheduling seed production is complex and unpredictable. Crops must be planted one year in advance of when the resultant crop of seeds will be sold. A recurring problem is that of spatiotemporal variation of yield and the management of the associated risk of over / under production of seeds, which is extremely costly, and can severely damage the business.

 Syngenta have developed an interface for internal planning of production, which is purely based on historical yield. Syngenta would like to rationalise planting strategies which are informed by a judicious choice of objective function, which best optimises the business performance (which could include growth, profitability) and is robust against potential risks (natural, market risks etc). Can a more sophisticated approach “beat” the experts and / or strategies based on historical data simulations?

  • Promar - Identifying Drivers for Profitability in Cattle

We have a huge amount of data throughout the dairy farm supply chain. We have used this data predominantly for benchmarking, including the impact of different farming systems and geographical areas on profitability. We have done some analysis to identify drivers for profitability using physical and financial parameters but more recently management practices and attitudinal aspects of the farmers. 

Based on the datasets above, we would like to explore drivers and KPI’s to predict profitability (performance is often masked by the management ability of the farmer and other factors). Another potential area for exploration is in linking genetic and financial data on an individual cow basis. 


Why take part in the Study Group?


  • Get new problems
  • Expand research portfolio
  • Vital contact with industry
  • Meeting academics from different fields



  • Get new solutions
  • Access to highly qualifies individuals
  • Written report

Costs to Take Part:

The majority of the Study Group is paid for by the sponsoring organization (Innovate UK), however to cover some costs, there will be a nominal registration fee of £45. This fee will cover accommodation and meals for the three days.  We also ask that travel costs should be sought from attendees’ own institutions.


Do you have questions about Agri-Food Study Group with Industry? Contact The Knowledge Transfer Network

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When & Where

International Centre for Mathematical Sciences
South College Street
EH8 9AA Edinburgh
United Kingdom

Wednesday, 21 February 2018 at 09:30 - Friday, 23 February 2018 at 16:30 (GMT)

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