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Sencrop opens first UK facility at NIAB’s agri-tech incubator Creating collaboration opportunities

The fast-growing European agri-tech company, which specialises in weather monitoring and crop disease forecasting, has been active in the UK for several years.

It has worked with organisations like the British Beet Research Organisation on Cercospora prediction. And recently it joined forces with Frontier Agriculture to roll out a UK-wide network of 480+ connected weather stations, helping farmers and their agronomists to make better crop management decisions.

This most recent move to the heart of UK and international crop research is a great opportunity for Sencrop and NIAB to collaborate, says Mark Herriman, sales account executive at Sencrop. “It is a very positive step. NIAB has a long history of scientific research and Sencrop can help with bringing some of that research to farmers.

“For example, NIAB has been working on a potato yield model which could be integrated into the Sencrop app.”

Also, while Sencrop already has a potato blight decision support tool, data NIAB holds on susceptibility of potato varieties to the disease could be used to refine the tool, says NIAB digital account manager Charles Gentry.

The company hopes to grow its network of weather stations by working more closely with NIAB through Barn4, says Mr Herriman. “We will have direct access to station information and will be able to feed local data to NIAB agronomists to aid their on-farm decision-making.”

Sencrop co-founder and general manager Martin Ducroquet adds: “There are many opportunities to bring together the ag-weather data Sencrop gathers with NIAB’s UK farming know-how to create and improve agronomic indicators for arable crops like wheat, barley and oilseeds. This will allow growers to reduce their crop risks and agronomists to bring them a more personalised service.”

Another opportunity Sencrop - with its Southern Europe wine know-how - is looking to make the most of is viticulture, a sector which has grown significantly in the UK in the last few years, says Mr Herriman. “The UK vineyard market is very exciting now. There are 900 vineyards, 500 of which operate on a commercial basis.

“Taking East Anglia, there are vineyards in Norfolk, Suffolk, Hertfordshire, Essex and Cambridgeshire. It is partly climate change that is leading farmers to grow vines, but they are also taking advantage of soil types similar to those in the French wine regions. We will be developing new disease modelling with NIAB.”

Mr Gentry adds: “We are seeing more and more vineyards being planted. As these grow, it is the perfect opportunity to get invested in the right tech to help produce the best crop.”

As well as NIAB, there is also the opportunity to work with the other agri-tech businesses using the Barn4 incubator. “It offers flexible office and lab space which allows start-ups to grow, and NIAB can help with any guidance needed on the UK agricultural market,” says Mr Gentry.

Mr Herriman adds: “It is an interesting time. Having a UK base will bring lots of opportunities, and being able to collaborate with NIAB means there will be many exciting projects on the horizon.”

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