TWO university friends from South Cerney were given an insightful look into the world of Japenese beef rearing and agricultural robotics when they went on a special trip organised by their former university, last month.
Recent graduates of Harper Adams University, Kit Franklin and Tom Evans, dropped by the faculty of agriculture at Kyoto University in Japan to meet with staff and students to hear about Japenese beef marbling and agricultural robotics.
The pair, who are pursuing a career in agriculture, were educated by the team on techniques which have been employed in Japan for many years but are only just being discussed in the UK.
Kit, a former MEng Agricultural Engineering student, said: “They are already doing the things we are thinking about in the coming years it is good to see how it can be done.
“I did a lot of work in robotics and crop fields at university so that was why I was interested in going on the trip.
“They have full robot combine harvesters working in rice fields.”
"We had a very enjoyable time and learnt a great amount, especially about Japanese beef marbling. We were also shown videos of the latest robotic rice harvesting machines."
Marbling adds flavour to meat and is made up of muscular fat which appears as fine flecks within the muscle of cattle.
Many food critics believe that the more marbling meat contains, the better a cut of meat it is.
Kit explained: “They are doing research at the moment where they have found that if you limit the amount of vitamin A found in beef you increase the fat marbling. That is the bones of it.”
“It is a completely different culture there around food and taste. If you went to Tesco here a lot of people would think a lot of fat was bad quality.”
The graduates, who are both aged 23, share experiences of their own work, including the Dionysus vineyard robot, built at Harper Adams - Shropshire's first university, which uses thermal imaging sensors to detect moisture levels in grape vines.
Tom, a BSc (Hons) Agriculture graduate, first met Kit when they attended the same play group and the two become firm friends when they attended Kingshill School in Cirencester.
Kit added: "Tom and I have always been close friends, attending the same secondary school as well as the same young farmer's club, and we also enjoy surfing and skiing."
“My plans for the future include travelling Asia and I would then like to find work as a design and development engineer within the agricultural sector. The ultimate aim is professional chartership and perhaps even academic research.”