AF aiming high to develop digital tools to help you

The right choice of partner – in life, business and certainly in data – is crucial to getting the right outcome. That’s why we’ve carefully chosen a partner to analyse and enhance our Members’ buying power.

We didn’t want to work with just any organisation that knocked on our door asking to access to our data. As your independent ally or partner in farming and rural procurement, to us that independence is crucial in ensuring the right outcome for you. That’s why we have chosen to begin a partnership with University of East Anglia (UEA) on a very important piece of research work that partners historical data about all that we procure for you with up-to-date information about your business.


Combining data from then, now and ahead

We’ve made market-leading progress in digitising our procurement and invoicing processes, which means we have a huge bank of information about which inputs you and other Members buy and when.

With help from UEA, we will combine that snapshot of what you’ve already bought, with the current information you provide us about your business and the future direction it will take. That combination will mean we can produce an innovative tool to help you make more informed purchasing decisions.


Invested for success

This important piece of research by AF with the UEA is possible thanks to the award of a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (*KTP) by Innovate UK. The University of Essex will also be supporting this project.

Samantha Barrell, AF Chief Technology Officer, says: “I am delighted to be working on such an exciting initiative, supported by an exceptional team from UEA and University of Essex. Through this work we will be able to provide clear, actionable insight to our Members, capitalising on the extensive work we have previously undertaken to digitise our invoicing processes. The results of this project will be game-changing for our Members.”

Through this KTP project, our on-line benchmarking tool will enable you to purchase more efficiently, identify opportunities for effective management and to adopt an evidence-based approach to decision-making.

This KTP will be supervised by Prof Andrew Fearne (who may be known to many of you for his rousing speeches on the power of data to help businesses), Dr Ricardo Malagueno de Santana and Dr Fabio Motoki.

When asked about the importance of this project, Prof Fearne said “Evidence-based decision making is a critical ingredient in today’s fiercely competitive and increasingly digitalised market environment. Data is ubiquitous and the need for not making more/better use of, for all parts of the business has never been greater. This project will showcase the power of AI in harnessing big data to deliver actionable insights that will transform the way in which agricultural inputs are purchased and applied, for the benefit of AF,  its Members, and the wider agri-food sector.”


Getting started soon

The recruitment of the data specialist to do the work at AF is underway.  By Spring 2024 they will be starting to analyse the buying patterns by you and other Members across a wide range of inputs with the aim of making that information work for you as soon as we can.


*KTPs aim to help businesses to improve their competitiveness and productivity through the better use of knowledge, technology and skills within the UK knowledge base. This KTP project was funded by UKRI through Innovate UK.