• Research

UK-China partnership in agri-tech innovation and crop research

A long-term UK-China partnership to share and develop state-of-the-art resources and expertise in advanced plant phenotyping, agri-tech innovation and crop research for rice and wheat.

Project summary.

Led by: Anthony Hall Group

Grants: BBSRC International Partnering Award

Faced with the task of feeding 10 billion people by 2050, modern agriculture is looking to technology to ensure that we can meet the increase in demand for food worldwide. However, there are technical limitations in how much we’re able to transfer what happens in the lab to what happens in the field.

To address these challenges, Earlham Institute (EI) and Nanjing Agricultural University (NAU) will be sharing their state of the art, innovative Agri-tech technologies, helping to improve crop production and quality through closely monitoring different crop species in fields. EI will provide newly developed crop surveillance robots and machine-learning based analytic software solutions such as CropQuant, SeedGerm and AirSurf. In return, NAU provides large-scale Agri-tech equipment such as LiDAR, hyper-spectral imaging sensors, UAVs and light aircraft.


This long-term partnership between the UK and China will be enabled through staff exchanges, training events and workshops, which represents an important international collaborative model enabling us to jointly address global challenges in crop growth and development, environmental stresses and disease resistance to benefit the wider scientific community.

One of the main outcomes of the research will be the co-development of long-term research programmes in crop phenotyping, precision farming, crop genetics and rice and wheat breeding and cultivation; focusing on solving real-world problems in Agri-food and precision agriculture.

This collaboration will serve as a model for many other China-UK scientific and technological collaborative projects, contributing to the golden age of China-UK relationships.


Nanjing Agricultural University

Our collaboration in crop phenotyping and other crop related research will aim to jointly promote and lead the phenomics research in wheat and rice globally, which will also push forward the integration of biological sciences and the latest information technologies.

Impact statement.

This award provides an exciting and valuable opportunity for both Earlham Institute and Nanjing Agricultural University. More widely, knowledge exchange between two leading global centres of excellence in next-generation phenotyping and genomics will improve best practice in two rapidly advancing fields of crop research in the UK, China and beyond.

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