Rinicom Ltd and FOLIUM Science wins Innovate UK award to develop new technology to treat blights in world crops

Rinicom Ltd and FOLIUM Science granted Innovate UK award to develop new technology to treat blights in world crops

Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency has confirmed its support for agri-technology that can help in the fight against anti-microbial resistance (AMR) by awarding a new grant to Rinicom Ltd and FOLIUM Science.

The new grant has just been confirmed as part of a £22 million government investment in new agricultural technology. This latest project aims to identify and control bacterial blight in world crops. For this work, Rinicom Ltd and FOLIUM Science will be working in partnership with the John Innes Centre (JIC) and the University of East Anglia (UEA). The project will develop an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) system to detect sites of Xanthomonas bacteria and other bacterial infection within a crop and deliver a precise application of FOLIUM Science’s Guided Biotics™ as a localised liquid spray. The team aims to develop a prototype for demonstration in a crop production system.

Xanthomonas blight is a significant challenge to sustainable food production, affecting more than 400 species of plants. Once established, the bacteria can infect the entire crop within six weeks resulting in substantial, often devastating losses to crop yields. Staple world food crops such as rice, soybean and cassava have recorded yield losses of between 50% and 75% due to Xanthomonas infection.

Despite the scale of the challenge, current treatment options have had only moderate success.

Xanthomonas infected plants will be treated by precise local spot spray application of Guided Biotics™ delivered precisely and accurately to only those plants identified as carrying the infection.

Rinicom’s UAV system will employ advanced AI-driven video analytics and proprietary algorithms to detect, identify, and classify early signs of Xanthomonas infection in a crop. Using high resolution imaging to identify physiological measures such as foliage colour and plant height, susceptible plants will be located by the UAV within exact GPS coordinates. Once an infection is detected, the Guided Biotics ™ aerosol spot treatment is deployed to the infected site.

FOLIUM Science’s CEO Ed Fuchs says “The combination of our Guided Biotics ™ with Rinicom’s state-of-the-art technology has the potential to revolutionise the treatment of this persistent and damaging bacterial blight. Not only will crop yields improve as a result but Guided Biotics ™ but this technology supports a sustainable environment by reducing the need to use chemicals or antibiotics. We are establishing a new gold standard in environmentally friendly, highly specific crop treatment solutions.”

“We are pleased and honoured to be part of this exciting and challenging project where our AI and video analytics know-how can make positive impact to a global problem”, said Professor Garik Markarian, CEO of Rinicom. “Working with FOLIUM and UEA will ensure the success in establishing UK’s leading role in environmentally friendly crop treatment” 

This project is focussed on Xanthomonas blight in UK brassica crops and the team will be working with local farm communities to execute field trials.

 “Innovate UK has recognised one of the greatest challenges of modern times represented by AMR and the potential contribution of Guided Biotics ™” says Ed Fuchs. “The specificity of our biotechnology allows us to target only those bacteria that are harmful to plant or animal health, leaving the good bacteria intact. The funding from Innovate UK in these three critical areas of challenge will support the development of UK led biotechnology that can be of long-term benefit to the food supply chain.”

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