AI predicts wheat supply could drop 12% in 2020
By Professor Richard Tiffin, Chief Scientific Officer
on 4 June 2020
AI suggests last year's wet Autumn has caused a 61% reduction in winter wheat on British farms, which supplies 80% of the wheat used by UK millers. Overall, wheat, barley and oat yields could drop by12%, 5% and 5% respectively.

Last Autumn parts of the UK saw twice the average seasonal rainfall. This was followed by some of the worst winter floods in memory. A poll by Farmer's Weekly asked farmers if 2019 was, weather-wise, the worst ever: 81% said it was.

Anecdotal evidence suggests drilling was delayed on many farms, especially in the North and Midlands. But what was the impact been on crop production?
61% reduction in winter wheat on UK farms
Agrimetrics have developed Artificial Intelligence (AI) capable of identifying crops using only satellite observations. This can be done as early in the year as April, though accuracy increases as the season progresses and crops become more easily distinguishable.
UK millers could be forced to import high quality wheat from overseas if domestic supplies fail to meet demand
Three weeks ago, Agrimetrics used their AI to calculate the proportion of winter crops currently growing in a sample of UK fields. They then compared this to levels from 2017 to 2019.

"We've discovered that there is 61% less winter wheat growing in the UK vs. last year," says Professor Richard Tiffin, Agrimetrics's Chief Scientific Officer. "And there was 45% less winter barley."

Average differences in yields between winter and spring sown crops were then used to estimate a difference in yield.
80% of the grain used by UK millers comes from UK farms – and 95% of that is winter wheat. Millers are going to have to look to overseas suppliers, which isn't ideal in the current climate
"A rough estimation would suggest that 2020's wheat harvest will be 12% lower than in 2019," continues Professor Tiffin. "Barley is likely to be down 5%."

Agrimetrics are keen to emphasise that their calculation is only based on a sample of fields and their AI is not 100% accurate, especially this early in the season. However, they are confident that the trend observed is correct and that their AI is the most accurate currently available.

"These numbers are significant enough to impact the UK's domestic food supply," concludes Professor Tiffin. "80% of the grain used by UK millers comes from UK farms – and 95% of that is winter wheat. Millers are going to have to look to overseas suppliers, which isn't ideal in the current climate."

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About Agrimetrics
Agrimetrics is the food and farming sector's Data Marketplace. We enable organisations to safely share and monetise their data, whilst making it easier for data-consumers to access the information they need. Our goal is to help create a more productive and sustainable food system by enabling next-generation solutions as quickly and affordably as possible.

We are one of four centres for agricultural innovation founded with an initial investment from Innovate UK. Our founding partners are NIAB, SRUC, Rothamsted Research and The University of Reading. We have strategic partnerships with Airbus and Microsoft and are a participant in Microsoft's prestigious AI for Earth programme.
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