Digital Jersey and one of the world’s leading agricultural science research centres, Rothamsted Research, have signed an agreement to create a pilot virtual model of Jersey to advance global understanding of sustainable agriculture.
The memorandum of understanding (MOU) signals the start of work on a ‘digital twin’ of two farmed catchments in the Island which will include layers of data and simulations that can be used by policymakers from a range of sectors, including the environment, public health, the rural economy and culture to work together to find long-term solutions to the world’s growing concern over the future of agriculture.
There is a global consensus that digital technology is going to transform the agriculture industry over the next five to ten years. The question is what that change will look like and how Jersey will preserve its rich agricultural heritage, while demonstrating its proven ability to seize market advantage through rapid innovation.
Creating a comprehensive virtual version of Jersey means these fundamental questions and a range of answers can be tested in an online world in a safe way, with effective stakeholder engagement, before any theories are put into practice.
Tony Moretta, CEO of Digital Jersey, said: ‘This MOU with Rothamsted Research heralds one of the most exciting digital developments in recent years. At a time when our Sandbox Jersey proposition is encouraging businesses and entrepreneurs from around the world to consider Jersey as a digital testbed, thanks to our cutting-edge digital infrastructure, having such a globally-renowned research institute choose the Island for this work is a huge vote of confidence for us.’
Professor John Crawford at Rothamsted Research said: ‘We are delighted to be working with Digital Jersey on this pioneering project. The future of agriculture and the world’s food systems host problems which have the potential to affect every person on the planet. By digitally testing a range of theories in a controlled environment supported by detailed data and Digital Jersey’s excellent relationships with industry and government, we hope to fast track our work for the good of everybody.’
The MOU is another major signing by Digital Jersey, and follows last summer’s agreement with cryptocurrency exchange Binance, which has since set up a permanent presence in the Island and last week’s announcement of a communications research collaboration between University College London, Digital Jersey and JT.
Mr Moretta added: ‘We want to be an enabler for entrepreneurs, start-ups and established businesses. We strive to attract people leading the dialogue on applied technologies to Jersey, and in turn boost the local economy, and build momentum for our efforts to upskill the local workforce. Having Rothamsted Research here with us highlights the fact that tech is no longer just a sector in its own right, rather it helps strengthen a range of industries, from finance to tourism, and in this case agriculture. Through this partnership we will see opportunities for those seeking a career in the tech sector expand further than ever before.’
A range of stakeholders, including representatives of Digital Jersey, Rothamsted Research, University College London, The Jersey Royal Company, Jersey Dairy, Jersey Water, Albert Bartlett, The Cooperative Society, Virtex, and a number of government departments will form a project management team to oversee the work which is due to begin in February.