Funding proposed to harness new space technology for farming

Government technology funding agency Innovate UK is scoping a new funding competition for the use of satellite and space technology in food production and distribution, and is calling for inputs from interested parties to define its scope.

Image: William Hook
Image: William Hook

"New space services such as the European navigation system, Galileo, and the European remote sensing system, Copernicus, new global data providers are coming online, and the UK is well positioned to take advantage of this," the agency said.

It suggested that space-enabled systems using technologies such as precision navigation, remote sensing and satellite communications could lead to more efficient crop production and improved farming management practices.

"For example, linking satellite imaging with precision navigation systems to farm machinery with common methods for data and information exchange could reduce production costs, and monitor and predict the onset of pathogens," it said.

The aim of the proposed funding competition is to stimulate further integration and efficiency, which in primary production can refer to farm machinery guidance and auto-steer; controlled traffic; autonomous systems; variable-rate application; and yield, biomass and soil mapping.

"Of specific interest within these broad areas are improvements to communications and data exchange, open standards, real-time operations and the use of innovative technologies such as unmanned aerial systems and autonomous systems using satellite data and technologies," the announcement said.

Responses to these proposals should be sent to

A scoping workshop will be held in London on 11 June, and those interested in taking part should contact via the same email address.

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