Farming industry to benefit from innovative project winners

TWO highly innovative collaborations have won Interface Food and Drink's legacy competition, providing funding of £88,000 towards industry'“academic projects.

Helen Pratt, project manager of Interface Food and Drink. Picture: Sandy Young

One project will test the application of pyrolysis in converting waste plastic in the farming industry while the other will look at the viability of using commercially produced seaweed in animal feeds.

The companies investigating the conversion of waste plastics into new products are Angus Growers, East of Scotland Growers, Kettle Produce and three academic partners - Edinburgh Napier University, the University of Edinburgh and the University of Strathclyde.

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The second project analysing the use of seaweed in animal feeds is a collaboration between Davidson Brothers (Shotts) Limited and SAMS, part of the University of the Highlands and Islands.

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This research will focus on the viability of an innovative pre-treatment process of seaweeds to produce a nutritional and sustainable supplement for feed products; biomass will also be a by-product.

Helen Pratt, project manager at Interface Food & Drink, said: “Working together, business and academics can push ahead with really ground-breaking innovations which enhance the sustainability of the businesses in all senses of the word, and help the evolution of the dream of a circular economy into reality.

​“These two projects, which will be the last funded through an Interface Food & Drink competition, stood out as not only having the potential to make a real difference to the individual businesses involved, but also to the wider industry, not only in their own competitive sectors but to primary production as a whole.  The sustainability factor of both projects appealed greatly to the judges.”

William Houstoun, General Manager of Angus Growers, said: “If realised, this new approach is going to modernise the way the soft fruit and vegetable industry deals with plastic at the end of its productive life, changing the way wastes are viewed - as a resource and not an  expensive problem with a poor public image.

“This will offer multiple benefits to the industry, as well as the wider Scottish economy, such as cost savings on waste disposal, resource efficiency, reduced CO2 emissions, additional revenue streams from new product sales, and increasing the economic incentive to recycle plastics.”

Gary Dow, Company Accountant, of Davidsons Animal Feeds, said: “Our aim has always been to provide our customers with value for money products that are high performance in their use for livestock production.

“By collaborating with experts from SAMS we hope to introduce a new, sustainable feedstock into our ingredients while maintaining the quality and high nutritional values our customers expect.”