In the U.K., Pollinating IoT for Agriculture

Through Agri-Tech East, a one-year-old member organization focused on bringing growers and technologists together to improve the agricultural output in the East of England, farmers are starting to tap into the Internet of Things.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor
Mar 20, 2015

Throughout the United Kingdom, farmers and ranchers are facing a number of challenges, ranging from an expected increase in flooding events, linked to climate change, to tighter government controls on the types and quantities of pesticides and other chemicals they can apply to crops.

Belinda Clarke
But technology can help these producers respond to these changes while still improving yield, Belinda Clarke believes. Clarke directs Agri-Tech East, a membership organization that formed last year to create a hub for entrepreneurs, established companies and researchers to connect with producers and agricultural groups that could benefit from technological approaches to improving resource management and business processes. Members include investor groups focused on the agriculture industry, agricultural purchasing cooperatives and industry groups, plant research laboratories and a number of technology providers whose products are designed to help farmers reduce reliance on chemicals, improve crop management and access real-time sensor data collected on their farms.

Agri-Tech East's goal, Clarke says, is to bring together farmers who are seeking answers with technologists who are offering solutions, but it's not about technology for technology's sake. "We're building a network, brokering connections, making sure [vendors] don't make solutions to problems that don't exist," she explains.

Agri-Tech East holds regular "Pollinator" events to discuss specific topics. Late last month, at an IoT-focused Pollinator, members interested in or already deploying Internet of Things technologies met to share their experiences and findings.

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