New and emerging technologies have the potential to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the agri-food sector. This exploratory study identified trends, opportunities and constraints in the application of emerging technologies to climate-related challenges within the agri-food system. We focused on projects supported by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) Food Network+ (SFN). The SFN provides seed funding for projects that address sustainability challenges across the food system by applying STFC technological capabilities and bringing together stakeholders from academia and industry to match practical needs with technological capabilities. SFN-funded initiatives represent a promising sample of interdisciplinary projects that bring together new and emerging technologies to address food systems challenges.

We reviewed a sample of 18 SFN-funded projects. The majority of projects reviewed (83 per cent, or 15 of 18) exhibited the potential for indirect greenhouse gas reductions, mostly through efficiency gains either at the agricultural production stage or further along the supply chain. A smaller number (17 per cent, or 3 of 18) had direct potential for greenhouse gas reduction. The technologies most commonly applied within the projects reviewed included: sensing and imaging, large-scale data science, and data sharing. Of these, three projects used a combination of these three technology types. These findings are based on a small sample of projects, but they are nevertheless indicative of emerging trends and promising avenues for further exploration, as well as potential challenges in the application of technologies developed in one sector to those experienced in another.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction and background

  • Chapter Two


  • Chapter Three


  • Annex A

    Summary of reviewed SFN projects

Research conducted by

The research described in this report was prepared for the Science and Technology Facilities Council and conducted by RAND Europe.

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