PostGraduate Research Engineer
October 2017 – Present
Description of role
I work within the IKnowFood research project, a £3.4 m project aimed at investigating the nature of resilience and how it can be promoted in three components of the food system:
- on farm,
- in the supply chain,
- among consumers.
Specifically, I work with farmers and scientists in a technology development framework so that farmers’ existing knowledge of farm resilience, embedded in their understanding of their soils, seeds and breeds, can be supported and expanded through the application of novel, state of the art technologies.
My responsibilities focus on communicating information from both ends of the technical spectrum to farmers and researchers to ensure that the technological developments are focused and answer the most pressing questions needed to create beneficial technology. I also facilitate a number of parallel research projects required to answer the diverse problems brought up by the farmers in addition to these project’s management and reporting.
Four technologies have been developed from these discussions and projects:
- Farmer lone working app
- Farmer database app
- Blood sampling schematic
- Leaf mimic
The farmer lone working app is an Android application that notifies key personnel if a farmer comes to harm when working alone. Currently available lone working solutions required GPS to identify where an injured individual was. These systems didn’t work when inside a metal barn/shed which is a high-risk area for farmers. Our application identifies which barn a farmer is in and if the farmer is insured, automatically alerts others to help, reducing risk when working alone.
The farmer database is an Android, IOS, Windows and Apple application that allows for the straightforward collection of in-field data. It is designed to collect ad-hoc data that is not well suited for other systems and to make it easily available for when it is needed most. This allows for multi-year trends to be observed with animals and reduces the duplication of data entry.
The blood sampling schematic is the design of a tool that can sample animal blood, easily, under real-world conditions. The technique is far less invasive than the canular technique used by vets for the detection of many diseases and can be conducted by farmers. This design will give researchers an endpoint to aim for when developing new technologies. Having such an endpoint will greatly increase the likelihood of new technologies reaching farms and making real impacts.
The leaf mimic allows for the detection of fungal spores that cause crop damage. Advanced notification of such outbreaks can decrease the levels of fungicides required in addition to increasing crop yields.