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Find out more about the Crop Health and Protection Agri-Tech Centre

Posted on 06/08/2019

Crop Health and Protection (CHAP), funded by Innovate UK, is one of four UK Agri-Tech Centres. Here's what they do and how to become a member.

CHAP’s vision is for the UK to be a global leader in the development of applied agri-technologies, to help secure the future of the UK. It acts as a nexus for world-class experts, leading scientists, farmers, advisors, innovators and businesses working together to understand industry priorities, develop innovative solutions and translate them into the field, to meet the challenges faced by UK and global agriculture.

Their mandate is to increase crop productivity for future generations, through the uptake of new technologies, enabling food producers to nourish a growing population sustainably, while at the same time delivering economic, environmental and health benefits to society.

To do this, they need to understand the challenges faced by the industry, and from this understanding, drive research and innovation, and develop and trial cutting-edge solutions that will transform crop systems. CHAP therefore works with a network of partners to translate and promote these solutions for market adoption and improved crop productivity.

CHAP Partners

Current partners include ADAS, AHDB, Bayer, CABI Cranfield University, Fera Science Ltd, Frontier Agriculture, James Hutton Institute, Liberty Produce, Newcastle University, RIPE, Rothamsted Research, Stockbridge Technology Centre (STC), Sutton Bridge, Tesco and University of Warwick.

This impressive and growing network of partners comprises key businesses working across the agricultural, scientific research, retail and academic sectors, which means CAHP is in a strong position to bring together public and private sector players in the UK agri-tech arena and beyond.

CHAP Membership

CHAP’s membership scheme is available to all; from new start-ups to multinational organisations. They aim to bring people together to promote networking and idea-sharing, act as a catalyst for interaction and collaboration and initiate the development of project ideas. They will support members to find solutions to help their businesses grow.

Members will have access to a range of exclusive, member-only benefits, including service discounts, grant support, and the CHAP online community. Members can join discussion forums to extend their network of industry contacts, share ideas, access up-to-date information about the latest funding opportunities and find information on new research and developments via the knowledge hub, helping them to stay ahead of the field.

The CHAP online community, accessed via the CHAP website, provides members with a central platform for knowledge exchange, a nexus that will further the quest to design and implement multi-disciplinary, cross-organisational collaborative initiatives and projects to provide cutting-edge approaches to meet major challenges in food production.

Successful Funding

In September 2018, CHAP and KTN organised a ‘Bid Development Masterclass’ at STC, focused on the first of Innovate UK’s Transforming Food Production (TFP) R&D funding calls scheduled for autumn 2018. TFP addressed the challenge of increasing agricultural productivity whilst lowering environmental impact and waste.

Areas of focus within the call included novel production systems, such as protected environments, that were highly efficient, and which minimised energy use and inputs. As CHAP had recently opened its Vertical Farm Development Centre (VFDC) at STC this was an ideal opportunity to bring together key stakeholders in controlled environment agriculture and urban farming, to introduce them to CHAP’s VFDC capability, current funding opportunities and to provide advice and expertise from KTN and CHAP on what makes a successful application.

Most importantly, a key aspect of the day was brainstorming potential project ideas for submission to the call. Several ideas were discussed on the day and as a result CHAP, together with Liberty Produce, STC and a number of leading vertical farming SMEs, submitted a proposal and were successfully awarded a TFP grant in 2019.

Liberty Produce, a UK-based farming and technology company with expertise in horticultural lighting and fertigation systems, is leading the consortium of 11 partners in a £1.3m project to accelerate the development of the UK vertical farming sector.

The grant, awarded by Innovate UK, is being used to support the creation of an integrated technology system focused on reducing operational costs by 25%, improving crop yield by 30% and reducing necessary grower intervention through improved decision support and automation in lighting, nutrient and environmental control technologies.

The Innovation Hub for Controlled Environment Agriculture (IHCEA), due for launch later this year at the James Hutton Institute, is designed specifically for research and development. It will enable industry to understand and tackle the barriers to adoption of new vertical farming technologies.

IHCEA joins the family of CHAP capabilities – open access, state-of-the-art facilities, run by world-class experts – providing contract research capabilities dedicated to transforming crop health and protection.

CHAP will continue to support initiatives and projects such as IHCEA, supporting members by building and running commercial demonstrators that exemplify the potential and benefits of new technologies to accelerate their adoption in the wider agricultural sector.

For more information about CHAP, their membership, or Liberty Produce, go to www.chap-solutions.co.uk.