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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/Y03063X/1
Title: UKRI AI Centre for Doctoral Training in Sustainable Understandable agri-food Systems Transformed by Artifical INtelligence (SUSTAIN)
Principal Investigator: Parsons, Professor S
Other Investigators:
Kyriazakis, Professor I Smith, Mrs K Sklar, Professor EI
Creevey, Professor C Smith, Professor P Michie, Professor WC
Leontidis, Professor G Manning, Professor L Tachtatzis, Dr C
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
AAC Clyde Space Agri-EPI Centre Agricarbon UK Limited
Agrimetrics AgriSearch Amazon Web Services EMEA SARL
AMPLY Discovery Limited Angus Soft Fruits Ltd Barfoots of Botley
Buhler UK Limited CattleEye CENSIS
Ceres Agri-tech Cool Farm Alliance CIC CropHound Ltd
Digital Content Analysis Technology Ltd Dogtooth Technologies Limited Ecometrica
Farmeye First Milk Limited IMV Imaging
Krucial KUKA Robotics UK Limited Lactalis UK & Ireland
MathWorks Moy Park Ltd National Manufacturing Inst Scotland
RAFT Solutions Ltd Scottish Agricultural Org Society (SAOS) Scottish Pig Producers Ltd
Smart Wireless Innovation Facility SWIFt Soil Essentials Terravesta Ltd
The Data Lab The Douglas Bomford Trust The James Hutton Institute
The Manufacturing Technology Centre Ltd The Scottish Info & Comp Sci Alliance Trade in Space
Xihelm Ltd Zoetis
Department: School of Computer Science
Organisation: University of Lincoln
Scheme: Centre for Doctoral Training
Starts: 01 April 2024 Ends: 30 September 2032 Value (£): 10,942,566
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Artificial Intelligence
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Food and Drink
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
06 Sep 2023 UKRI CDTs in Artificial Intelligence 2023 expert panel Announced
20 Sep 2023 UKRI CDTs in Artificial Intelligence Interview Panel C Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
The agri-food system has a profound impact on the economic and environmental well-being of our society. Agri-food accounts for around 22% of UK greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, much of it from livestock, and underpins the Food & Drink sector, the largest manufacturing sector in the UK, with a GVA of £28B. Creating a sustainable agri-food sector while ensuring food security is challenging. It will need us to: reduce the environmental impact of food production and cut food waste; cut GHG emissions and sequester carbon to reach Net Zero; enhance animal welfare; reduce pharmaceutical/chemical inputs to reduce pesticide/antimicrobial resistance; and maintain biodiversity. At the same time, the output of the agri-food system needs to be nutritious, delicious, affordable and safe.

In such a complex system, no single technology will drive sustainability on its own. However, a sustainable agri-food system can be achieved with support from a suite of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies. SUSTAIN imagines a system where data-driven AI transforms the production of crops (selective harvesting and weeding through precision agriculture) and raising of animals (livestock monitoring, reducing animal GHG emissions and improving animal welfare); enhances plant and animal breeding (AI informed genomics); stabilises supply chains (mechanism design and agent-based modelling); reduces food waste and loss (supply and demand matching) and enables fairer sharing of economic gains and understanding of environmental impacts (ethical and trustworthy AI). All the underlying methods need to be understandable by people so that decisions are trusted (explainable AI).

To wield the power of AI, we need a new generation of researchers. They need to understand not only the technology in detail, but also the area of agriculture where their AI is applied. That is the only way they will be able to transform the agri-food system, not just in theory but--more importantly--in practice. These new researchers can only be trained by a truly multidisciplinary, cohort-based PhD programme, one that combines the expertise of soil, plant and veterinary scientists with that of AI scientists, engineers and social scientists, and one that teaches ethical, responsible and sustainable practices for the development and delivery of AI solutions. This is the unique and innovative programme of PhD research and development that SUSTAIN will provide.

SUSTAIN unites an interdisciplinary band of researchers from four leading universities in soil, plant and veterinary research, fundamental and applied AI research, and research into the use of AI to improve agriculture. Together, we will train a cohort of 60 PhD students, 40 funded by UKRI and 20 funded by industry and the universities themselves. Each student will receive a solid grounding in the basics of agriculture and AI and will pick more advanced topics from a wide range of specialities taught by the four institutions. Students will have flexibility to plan their own educational path, including the design of their PhD project, will work with two supervisors from different universities and will belong to a cohort that joins all four universities. Students will be given a carbon budget for their studies, to create and put into their own research practice environmentally responsible ways to conduct, deliver and communicate AI research. All students will have opportunities to work with our industrial partners, visit international collaborators and explore the possibilities of entrepreneurship, strengthening and broadening their academic journey.

Ultimately, SUSTAIN will produce the future generation of industrial, academic and enterprise leaders who will be capable of developing and translating research into innovative technologies, practices and information that enable countries worldwide to meet existing and future food and environmental challenges while also contributing significantly to UK and global economic growth.

Key Findings
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Organisation Website: http://www.lincoln.ac.uk