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UK Student? Try Your Hand at the Farm Tech Challenge

Gareth Halfacree

Farm Tech Challenge

If you're a UK student with an interest in electronic, programming, and developing real-world solutions to environmental issues, you should give real thought to entering the Farm Tech Challenge. Open to UK students aged between 11 and 19 and organised by agriculture giant Syngenta, the Farm Tech Challenge does exactly what its name suggests: challenges students to come up with technology to address real-world agricultural problems, using anything from your favourite programming language for a software-based solution to an Arduino-powered hardware fix.

The Challenge revolves around Syngenta's 'Good Growth Plan,' a set of six targets through which the company aims to make a measurable contribution to the planet by the year 2020. The goals: to make crops more efficient; to rescue more usable farmland; to hep biodiversity flourish; to empower smallholders; to help people stay safe; and to protect workers at every point of the agricultural supply chain. To help it, the company has launched the Farm Tech Challenge in partnership with the Institute of Agricultural Engineers, the Institution of Engineering and Technology, the University of Manchester, Harper Adams University, and education groups Farming and Countryside Education, Bright Crop, and Linking Environment and Farming.

The potential for technology to make an impact in these areas is great, and the organisers of the Challenge are offering entrants plenty of support along the way: the official website includes guides for both students and teachers, along with promotional materials to help schools get the world out to their local community. There are some prizes up for grabs, too: selected teams will be invited to present their projects to science and technology experts, while the winners of each category will receive £500 for their school and individual prizes - plus the warm glow of having created something that could have a real impact on the global future.

You can read more about the Farm Tech Challenge on the official website. Interested parties - individuals or groups up to five members per project - have until the 23rd of March 2016 to prepare their submissions.

Your Challenge is to plan, deliver, evaluate and report on a project that uses digital technology to address one of the themes of The Good Growth Plan. It will involve the design and development of a programmable digital system to gather data, process it and produce a useful output. This might be done with a pocket sized computer such as Raspberry Pi, Arduino or even the BBC Micro:bit; alternatively a PC, Mac or even an app might be used. Irrespective of the particular system, the focus is to devise, develop and test an innovative solution that will help farmers.

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