The REAP (Realising Economic Agricultural Potential) Conference is the flagship annual event of Agri-TechE. The conference brings together farmers, technologists, scientists and advisors to discuss options for the future of agriculture and how innovation can help deliver them. A number of companies were selected to present in the ‘Start-Up Showcase’ at #REAP20, one of them was Willand Group.
The Willand Intelligent Livestock System (WIL System)
Most people will have seen the large air supported structures already used to provide undercover all-weather sports facilities. Willand Group has taken the same concept and applied it to livestock farming. The Willand Intelligent Livestock System (WIL System) is an innovative inflatable livestock production facility that offers the optimum conditions for animal well-being and productivity.
A WIL System can be installed and fitted-out within weeks and offers the potential for methane and carbon capture to enable the farming industry to meet its Net Zero targets profitably. Filtered fresh air is drawn in to maintain the pressure (whilst keeping out pathogens) and stale air is extracted and scrubbed to remove water, carbon dioxide and methane. The water can be condensed and treated for reuse inside the building, reducing waste and saving a precious resource in arid conditions.
Daniel Larn, managing director of Willand Group believes that by removing ammonia and nitrates from the exhaust air and containing the slurry, units can also generate value from the by-products as fertiliser or through carbon capture. Although technically possible at the moment, more development is required for it to be cost-effective. “In the UK, we are working with planning authorities and the Environment Agency to ensure that the units meet quality standards. This will enable installation of the WIL System in non-traditional sites close to centres of population if required” he said, adding “We are offering a complete installation package, together with finance as required and anticipate that it will take a month on site to go from bare field to fully functional unit.”
Demand from temperate countries with harsh environments
Willand Group is already working with a leading university to create a prototype system and is looking for potential partners and investors to accelerate proof of concept so it can fulfil demand from Nigeria and the Middle East.
“The demand for meat is increasing internationally but the Middle East and Africa is environmentally unsuitable for intensive production.” said Larn, “Happy animals are the most productive and we saw the opportunity for ‘sensitive intensification’: a climate controlled environment that would offer the animals space and protection from pests and harsh conditions. If we can scale production then the units would also be suitable for temperate countries offering benefits from standardising conditions and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”
Willand Group has specialist expertise in IT systems integration, creating a platform into which third party devices such as sensors, monitors, and climate control can be installed and then managed remotely through a dashboard. The company is working with ‘best in class’ suppliers across the industry to supply a robust and cost-effective next-generation livestock production facility.
Belinda Clarke, Director of Agri-TechE, says: “In the race for net zero emissions from agriculture, Willand’s ‘pop-up’ solution for livestock management facilities has the potential to be a game-changer. This innovation will bring together a range of technologies to improve emissions and animal welfare.”