UK-China Agritech Challenge - REmote sensing and Decision support for Apple tree Precision management, Production and globaL tracEability (RED-APPLE)

Lead Research Organisation: Newcastle University
Department Name: Sch of Engineering

Abstract

RED APPLE is looking to develop and implement technological innovation in the China and UK apple production systems to increase yield and quality as well as reduce supply chain losses. The project is testing two technologies: 1) spectral cameras that can identify plant stresses due to, for example, water or nutrient imbalances or pest and disease; 2) traceability systems that can transfer appropriate information to stakeholders along the supply chain to maintain higher quality levels and reduce losses. The findings from the first technology are expected to increase yields and quality in a sustainable manner, reducing inefficient inputs of fertiliser and pesticides. The second will ensure not only the reduced losses but also that quality attributes can be linked to particular producers as well as production techniques.

Planned Impact

Enhanced cooperation and knowledge exchange: The consortia in the UK and China will capitalising on expertise within the engineering, natural, socio-economic sciences, facilitating a transdisciplinary approach across organisations and countries, integrated with insights from industry regarding development and commercialisation. The research builds on existing research partnerships, at the same time integrating new collaborators and stakeholders. This ensures that the translation of evidence into concrete applications aligns with emerging agrifood and environmental policies in China. Pathways to impact will operationalise at different scales. At the local scale, (i.e. NE China) the research will focus on apple production, and demonstrate the efficacy of precision agriculture and block chain traceability in collaboration with local Chinese stakeholders and end-users. The measurement of economic benefits to producers and food chain actors, agronomic indicators of increased yields and reduced quality variability, and assessment of Chinese consumer demand for improved quality and traceability will provide information to potential technology end-users about the benefits of the technological innovations. Identification of potential barriers to, and facilitators of, adoption of proposed technological innovations at the farm level will enable the development of bespoke training and educational activities maximising farmer adoption. As well as providing improved and more secure local employment, some of the problems facing rural populations in China (e.g., rural depopulation and lack of skills development within the rural Chinese workforce) will be mitigated. Upscaling to demonstrate implementation for different crops and supply chains will have a positive impact on Chinese food security, and will enable farmers to meet policy requirements for reduced environmental impacts (e.g. reduced fertiliser usage). Stakeholder analysis (including fine-tuning research activities to policy maker needs) will be carried out at an early stage in the project to a) map out the key Chinese actors at local and national levels and b) ensure the project is effectively linked to other related research, and communicated to the full range of relevant stakeholders. This will increase the relevance of the outputs to industry, maximising impacts through policy stakeholder "buy-in" to the project. The integration of knowledge exchange activities with the proposed commercialisation trajectory will ensure that the transdisciplinary collaborations generated by RED APPLE are sustainable and continue beyond the lifetime of the project. At the international level, the consortia will ensure effective dissemination through their existing networks, coupled with an open-access dissemination strategy. This will generate information relevant to the needs of other countries, including LMICs, maximising opportunities for transferability to countries outside China. RED APPLE will use integrated scientific, social and economic analysis to determine the best policy and knowledge transfer mechanisms to ensure an optimal balance of reduced crop variability, adoption of technological innovation by key end-users, and increased consumer demand. The natural science and engineering element will provide essential information on what is possible in terms of reduced nutrient and effective pest diagnosis, improved agronomic practices and food chain traceability. The socio-economic science will involve capturing societal preferences, and understanding farmer/adviser decision-making (and how to influence it). Determining what support needs to be provided to enable change through the apple, and related, supply chains. The transdisciplinary approach adopted will ensure that the benefits of technical innovation is integrated with production goals, reduced supply chain variability, and consumer demand.
 
Description The most important findings relate to a. The feasibility of using remote sensing in relation to apple orchards in China b. The economic feasibility of this and c. Consumer attitudes towards being willing to pay more for applied traceability of different product attitbutes. While the technical and economic feasibility have been demonstrated, consumer acceptance is greater in China than the UK for these systems and local policy does not necessarily support the inclusion of traceability in supply chains.
Exploitation Route Inclusion in policy in China
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Communities and Social Services/Policy

 
Description The results have been particularly relevant to on-farm adoption of remote sensing and traceability in China, less relevant for UK policy.
First Year Of Impact 2022
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink
Impact Types Societal,Economic

 
Description Huazhong Agricultural University centre for encironmental research 
Organisation Huazhong Agricultural University
Country China 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Professor Lynn Frewer developed the activity from the SE impact work in Red Apple
Collaborator Contribution Dr Wenjing Li developed the activity from the SE impact work in Red Apple
Impact Following the initial collaborative meeting, further funding (5 years) have been applied for to support the centre via MOST in China
Start Year 2019
 
Description A delegation from Tianjin Agricultural and Rural Committee (TARC) visited the UK on 17-21 December 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact A delegation from Tianjin Agricultural and Rural Committee (TARC) with 4 members visited Newcastle University and RAL Space on 17-21 December 2019.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Apple Orchard visiting and demonstration in BSD, Yantai on 23 October 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The RED-APPLE team visited BSD Ltd and its apple orchards, which enabled the team to better understand the apple production chain in China
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Interview with jouralist 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Interview with jounalist from Imaging & Machine Vision Europe
An article titled: How healthy are our woodlands? was published in Imaging & Machine Vision Europe in their December 2021/January 2022 issue.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://www.imveurope.com/feature/how-healthy-are-our-woodlands
 
Description Multi-GNSS Road Test in Shanghai in 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact A one-day road test on multi-GNSS was carried out in Shanghai in 2019 - the performance of multi-GNSS in urban areas were experimented.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description PAFiC Training Course, Beijing, 21 October 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Over 30 people attended the training course in which a range of agri-technologies were demonstrated and our findings on social-economic assessments were presented.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description RED-APPLE Annual Meeting, Beijing, 20 October 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Over 30 people attended the annual meeting of the RED-APPLE project - recent progresses were reported and plans discussed.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Technology Integration Platform Quzhou County: Insights and Communication 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact A prototype of tool functionality and a Mock-up interface in Quzhou to obtain feedback from farmers. A workshop format was chosen together with follow-up interviews with workshop attendees. Specifically, two rounds of interviews were conducted at different times to gain farmers' perceptions about, and intention to adopt a decision tool presented as a Smartphone app. The first round-interview aimed to obtain a general understanding about farmers' approaches to practical decision-making, and perceptions and attitudes toward app-based agriculture decision tools. The second round aimed to capture whether there were any changes in farmer perceptions and attitudes after the presentation of a prototype App at the "Mock-up workshop".
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description The 2019 International Summer Conference on Sustainable Agriculture and the Environment: Climate Chang, Resource Environment and Agricultural Growth 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact More than 60 people participated in the conference, which focused on breakthroughs in the areas of climate change, resources & environment management and sustainable agricultural development. In-depth discussions were made for future collaboration and the funded biannual collaborative meetings for farmer's innovate technology adoption.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Visiting Tianjin Agricultural and Rural Committee (TARC) in Tianjin on 22 October 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact A UK delegation of 2 members visited Tianjin Agricultural and Rural Committee (TARC) in Tianjin on 22 October 2019 and discussed the potential MoU among TARC, RAL Space, NERCITA and Newcastle University.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019