ECPA 2017 – The 11th European Conference on Precision Agriculture

It is 20 years since the first ECPA conference and the UK organisers are pleased to welcome the return of the conference to the UK and to Edinburgh. The conference will continue with a successful format of previous conferences building in strong industry sessions and participation. The theme of ‘Innovating through Research’ will enable all involved in Precision Agriculture to participate. Oral and poster presentations will be welcomed from authors on any precision agriculture topic though particularly welcome in the list of topics shown in the Programme section. All prospective authors and presenters should view the ‘Key Dates’ section to ensure they can meet the deadlines.

Registration is for ECPA 2017 is not yet open, but anyone can record their interest and receive regular updates by pre-registering. To do so, simply click the “Pre-register” button above (in the “Registration” section) and create an account on our events platform. Creating an account only takes a couple of minutes and is especially quick if you sign-up using your Linked In account. If you have any queries, please email:


Edinburgh - host city for ECPA 2017

Edinburgh is Scotland’s capital city with unique history and architecture. It’s a major UK centre of agricultural and land-based research where there are leading centres for precision agriculture and sensor-based technology with strong industry links.

On ECPA’s 20th anniversary, Edinburgh will host the first return to the UK since the first Conference and provides a new and exciting venue for ECPA. In addition to a strong academic programme, the conference will feature strong links to industry with practical input through commercial participants and the UK’s new Centres of Excellence in Innovation. Edinburgh is a great city for a visit and the Social and Accompanying Persons Programmes will enable delegates to get a real taste of what Edinburgh can offer – some great city centre venues, some great food and drink experiences, vibrant culture and a wealth of history.


The Venue for ECPA 2017

The conference will be based at the University of Edinburgh’s John McIntyre Conference Centre, within the Pollock Halls Centre. Delegates are encouraged to take up one of the comfortable en-suite rooms reserved for ECPA at Pollock Halls, where the self-contained John McIntyre Conference Centre will be a couple of minutes walk away. The venue provides high quality breakfast (included in accommodation packages) and lunches (included in the conference registration packages). Alternative accommodation, both for budget and those requiring 5 star accommodation (4 star accommodation is also available on-site) can use the ConventionEdinburgh service.

Social and Accompanying Persons Programmes

Edinburgh is a fantastic city for shopping, site seeing and night-life. Scotland’s food and drink is internationally renowned and the programmes will feature great opportunities. Delegates will need to register for different elements of the programme.

Key Dates

  • All abstracts must be received by 12pm Wednesday 12th October 2016.
  • Authors will be advised whether accepted for oral, suggested for poster presentations or rejected, by Monday 24th October 2016.
  • Full papers (8 pages) will then be required by Friday 9th December 2016. 
  • February 2017 – return of reviewed papers and confirmation of acceptance.
  • A final deadline for submission of finalised papers will be set with the proceedings editor and will be notified shortly.
  • Poster abstracts must be received by Monday 1st May 2017 to be accepted.
  • Editorial work to ensure they can be submitted to the book of abstracts must be completed by Monday 29th May 2017.
  • Registrations will open shortly.
  • Closing dates for early bird registrations, for final registrations, will be confirmed later.

Provisional Programme

Abstract Submission

We are pleased to announce that submission of abstracts is now open through the conference website. The timetable is as follows;  submit by 12th October, assessed and decision communicated to submitting author by  24th October. Full papers  are then required by  9th December and Poster summaries by 1st May 2017.

To submit an abstract, please pre-register (or login, if you have already pre-registered). Please then go to ‘Profile’ and complete/submit your abstract. The easiest way to complete the webform is to ‘cut and paste’  from MS Word or equivalent once you are happy with your abstract wording and checked your word /character count.

Title Box: Enter your title

Subtitle Box: Enter authors and addresses as follows - Author (1) [Smith, John or Smith J.A.] , Author (2) etc.; (1) Address, (2) Address, etc.;(email address of submitting author). Please use a single paragraph.

For example: Smith, J.A.(1), Smith, A.J.(1) and Smith B. (2); (1) National Centre for Acoustic Sensing, University of West Auckland, Durham, UK, (2) University of Halifax, …....; (   If all authors are from a single address then omit the numerics.

Text Box: Enter your abstract – one paragraph only , the word limit is c.300 words or more precisely 2500 characters for this section (authors/addresses/title are not part of word limit). Complete this section with [ORAL] or [POSTER] for your preferred presentation mode. Note that special characters (superscript/subscript etc.) may not be reproduced exactly. This should not be critical for abstract reviews. Where scientific symbols are used, please use the english term in full if it is a problem to understanding.

File: Please do not use this at this stage. 

‘Allocate’ the  abstract to ECPA2017 and then ‘Save’. The abstract should be visible  if you scroll  down through your Profile.

Once your abstract is allocated to the ECPA 2017 event, please do not edit your abstract unless advised to do so. You can add further  abstracts  for consideration, using the same process outlined above. 

You may only submit an abstract via the ECPA2017 website after pre-registering and you will receive a confirmation of abstract submission.  Any problems please email

Social Programme

  • Sunday 16th July: afternoon conference registration at Pollock Halls, together with room key collection for those residing at Pollock Halls
  • Sunday 16th July: late afternoon/evening (5pm to 9pm): an informal early evening ‘meet and greet’, registration, and Help Desk. A buffet meal, with one inclusive drink from the bar, will be provided at the Salisbury Arms, immediately next to the Pollock Halls/Conference Centre site.
  • Monday 17th July: Early evening reception in Edinburgh (6-7 pm) followed by free evening
  • Tuesday 18th July: Conference Dinner featuring the best of Scottish food and drink at Edinburgh’s famous Assembly Rooms
  • Wednesday 19th July: Free evening
  • Thursday 20th July: study field visit, return late evening.






Study Field Trip

The Study trip on Thursday 20th July will be in conjunction with the James Hutton Institute (JHI) and its core site near Dundee. Buses will depart from Conference Centre/Pollock Halls to take delegates to field demonstration site at JHI. The accompanying persons bus will be a tour based around a trip St Andrew’s for the day. A visit, with entertainment and food, is planned at Glamis Castle on the return. Accompanying persons will join again at Glamis. More details to follow.

About Edinburgh

Scotland’s capital has an award-winning reputation as one of the most attractive destinations in the world. The historic Old and New Towns are designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site (1995) covering over 1.76 square miles with over 75% of all the buildings are listed – the highest concentration of listed buildings anywhere in the UK. Edinburgh city is home to a population of nearly 500,000 and a major tourism centre. It welcomes over 4M visitors annually. Edinburgh has more Michelin star restaurants than any other city outside London. Google Town Awards recently recognised Edinburgh as the second most tech-savvy town in the UK. Edinburgh has 112 parks in the city, as well as more trees per head of population than any other city in the UK.

Some other quick facts:

  • The city has the lowest level of air pollution of the ten largest UK cities over the last two years (DEFRA).
  • More than 70km of traffic-free cycle paths criss-cross the city.
  • Rainfall in Edinburgh is well below the Scottish average and less annually than in Rome, Frankfurt and New York.
  • Edinburgh’s residents are the happiest of the largest 10 cities in the UK and 97% are satisfied with Edinburgh as a place to live.
  • Edinburgh Airport is Scotland's busiest airport with more than 40 airlines serving 120 worldwide destinations in 33 countries and four continents
  • Scotland’s capital city is uniquely inspirational. Not only for its fabled loveliness, but also for its associations – past and present – with innovation, creativity, discovery and progress.
  • It was here chloroform was first used as an anaesthetic and penicillin was discovered. Dolly the sheep was cloned at the University’s Roslin Institute. The first ‘bionic’ hand – a powered prosthetic with articulating fingers – was developed by a spin-out company from the city’s Princess Margaret Rose Hospital.

Still leading the way

The Edinburgh Science Triangle is a collaboration of universities, research institutes, science parks and local authorities within 30 minutes of each other and close to thecity centre. Home to more than 3,000 researchers and 100 market-leading companies, it incorporates the £600m Edinburgh BioQuarter and the £42m Informatics Forum at the University of Edinburgh. It also houses the £60m Roslin Institute, shared with SRUC, and the new Vet School at Easter Bush. It’s a major part of Scotland’s science and technology

And a few awards

  • Edinburgh University was ranked 17th in the world.
  • Edinburgh has come first in the Telegraph's 'Britain's Best Ten Cities' Awards.
  • Edinburgh Airport was named 'Airport of the Year' for the second consecutive year (Scottish Transport Awards 2014) 'UK's safest destination'.
  • Voted the ‘Best Place to Live in the UK’

When a walk round the city takes you from the medieval to the modern day, Edinburgh doesn’t seem to need additional attractions. Nevertheless, it has plenty. Here are just a few:

Food and drink

With more restaurants per head of population than any other UK city, and more Michelin-starred restaurants than any UK city outside London, Edinburgh knows how to whet the visitor’s appetite.

Out and about

There’s no better way to learn about Edinburgh’s ancient past than one of the walking tours that operate year-round.


Edinburgh Castle is visible from almost every main street in the city centre. Explore it at any time. Scotland’s Parliament building, at the bottom of the Royal Mile, is open to visitors all year round, except when Parliament is in recess.Royal Mile: going from Holyrood Palace and the Scottish Parliament at the bottom end to Edinburgh Castle at the top the Royal mile has historic building, shops, pubs, and restaurants all the way along. Along its spine are dozens of interesting alleyways and steps National Museum of Scotland is between the University and Royal Mile and was the most visited UK attraction outside London. Dolly the Sheep is preserved here! The central area of Edinburgh, the New Town, is often considered to be a masterpiece of city planning and, together with Old Town, was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995. Its most famous street is Princes Street, facing Edinburgh Castle and Princes Street Gardens. The Royal Botanic Gardens of Edinburgh are situated about one mile east of the city centre and have historic buildings, great landscapes and views and are home to important plant collections and to cutting edge research in plant science.

Find out more at:


Venue & Accommodation

Pollock Halls Campus

Pollock Halls is just south of the city centre, close to the Scottish Parliament, and within walking distance of the famous Royal Mile. Set in the shadow of Arthur’s Seat at Holyrood Park it is conveniently located for all public transport links.

It also has the benefit of on-site complimentary car parking. 15 min walk from the Royal Mile, 5 min taxi from Waverley Station and on-site taxi rank makes this the perfect location for combined conference facilities and accommodation.

John McIntyre Conference Centre (JMCC)

A purpose built and newly-refurbished conference centre lies within the Pollock Halls Campus site. It is within a few metres of all on-site accommodation options.

Chancellor’s Court and John Burnett House

Together offer over 600 3 star campus en-suite bedrooms (twin/double/single). Many of these have stunning views of Arthur’s Seat. All bedrooms have a television, telephone, tea/coffee making facilities, linen and toiletries. Reservations of these have been made for ECPA2017.

There are a further 1000 single standard bedrooms and 300 single en-suite rooms of a 2 star standard.

Salisbury Green Hotel (within Pollock Halls Campus)

This is a beautifully restored 3 star 18th-century mansion house hotel set in beautifully landscaped grounds. The modern interior has been carefully designed to reflect the atmosphere and the history of the building and its architecture; all 36 en-suite bedrooms exude richness and quality. The bedrooms offer a range of facilities including free internet access, tea & coffee making facilities and room service. Available all year round, the hotel offers 4 star standard bedrooms.

Informal Dining

For informal dining, the conference centre restaurant opens up as a buffet. This buffet includes three courses with hot and cold options soups, salads, a variety of mains, desserts and cheeses with unlimited soft beverages.

Accommodation Bookings

These are not yet open. Once conference registration opens, delegates will recieve a booking code allowing them to make priority on-line bookings for the Pollock Halls rooms reserved for ECPA2017. Alternative accommodation at a wide range of Edinburgh hotels will also be available through a priority system. This will include budget accommodation.

Conference technology

The main conference proceedings will be provided as a standard version in digital format. A printed book will be an additional cost. An App will make the conference programme and details and available to all via smartphone or equivalent and will enable networking amongst conference delegates live during the meeting. One room has been designated as ‘noisy room’ where delegates can watch and listen to relayed presentations form plenary sessions and one of the parrallel sessions when the meeting is running parrallel. In this ‘noisy room’ delegates can happily work on their laptops and other digital media without far of disturbing other delegates.



Agriculture in Scotland

Results from the Annual Agricultural Census indicate an agricultural workforce in Scotland of 68,000, almost three per cent of the total Scottish workforce compared to England’s 1.3 per cent. Scotland has a higher proportion of large holdings (60 per cent of holdings are over five hectares) than EU15 (47 per cent) and EU27 (31 per cent) countries, with a significantly larger average holding size for these.

Rough grazing dominates land usage, with grass and then barley the major crops. Eighty-five per cent of land is Less Favoured Area. In terms of total agricultural output values, the UK as a whole has a fairly even split between crops and finished livestock – in contrast, in EU27 countries crop output is worth more than double the output value of finished livestock. Within the UK, there is a particularly high reliance on livestock and livestock products in Northern Ireland (milk 33 per cent, cattle 23 per cent, poultry 13 per cent) and Wales (milk 33 per cent, cattle 28 per cent, sheep 18 per cent).While a large proportion of Scottish output also comes from livestock (cattle 24 per cent, milk 13 per cent, sheep six per cent), Scotland also has significant cereal (14 percent), horticulture (eight per cent) and potato (nine per cent) sectors.

Scotland has a long tradition in innovation, education and development in agriculture. It also has world class food and drink deriving from these products with Scotch Whisky and Scotch Beef worldwide renowned. Scottish agriculture had gross outputs worth £3.13 billion in 2013, with the food and drink sector worth £4.7 billion in 2013, with beverages, principally whisky the largest individual product.


There is a wide range of suitability of land used for agriculture in the UK. While Scotland contains around one third of UK agricultural land area, it has over half of the UK’s “less favoured” land. In fact 85 per cent of Scotland’s land is designated “less favoured”, compared to 81 percent in Wales, 70 per cent in Northern Ireland only 15 per cent in England.

Arable Sector

The arable sector focusses on the eastern fringe, where specialist arable units produce barley (much heading for malting to produce whisky and beer), oil seed rape and important potato production. Soft fruit and vegetables are grown on the most easterly land . As land quality declines, arable production becomes part of production of system which features grass and livestock production.


The dairy industry has been contracting in recent years, and in 2013 there was a further decrease in the number of holdings in Scotland with dairy cows, down six per cent from 2,033 in 2012 to 1,903 in 2013. The average number of dairy cows per holding has risen, from 82 to 87; the total number of dairy cows has gone down from 167,000 to 166,000.


The total number of beef cows decreased very slightly in 2013, from 462,000 in 2012 to 447,000 in 2013. There was a decrease in the number of holdings with beef cows, from 9,660 to 9,483 (2%); the average number of beef cows per holding fell by 1%, from 48 to 47. There was a 13% drop in output in 2013.


The sheep sector continues to experience reductions, but saw a less than 1% decrease in the number of breeding ewes between 2012 and 2013, and an equivalent increase in the number of holdings with breeding ewes. Total sheep output numbers (i.e. sheep available for production) increased.

Food and Drink Manufacturing Sector

In terms of international exports, food & beverage manufacturing was Scotland’s largest exporting industry by value (£4.7 billion, making up 30 per cent of total international exports), with beverages accounting for 85 per cent of this total. The export value of food & beverages has shown steady growth in recent years, from £3.3 billion in 2008 to £4.7 billion in 2012, a rise of 41%. Scottish Annual Business Statistics show turnover of £9.8 billion for food & beverage manufacturing in 2011.




Edinburgh station is linked to all the UK’s major cities and airports. A high?speed link to London takes just over four hours. The Eurostar service connects to Paris in around eight hours. There are trains to major cities across the UK, as well as to Scotland’s favourite tourist destinations. More information from


Edinburgh is easily access by a network of motorways and trunk roads, chiefly the M74, A1 and A68 from the south and the M8 from the west. The M9 and M90 head north. Edinburgh’s bus station on St Andrews Square connects to all the major cities in Britain. More information on bus services from


Edinburgh airport is served by more than 40 airlines, travelling to around 130 worldwide destinations. Only 12km from the city centre, it is just a short journey from the city centre. More information from

To and from the airport

With tram links and a dedicated 24 hour bus service plus the option of taxis and car hire, Edinburgh airport is well served by excellent links directly to the city centre.

Walking in Edinburgh

The main accommodation base at Edinburgh University Pollock Halls is approximately 30 minutes walk from the city centre (Waverley Station), and is just 300 metres to the gates of Holyrood Park. This public area contains the volcanic plugs of Arthur’s Seat and Salisbury Crags with miles of walking and running areas.

Travel within Edinburgh

Transport for Edinburgh ( ) provides integrated transport across Edinburgh, with trams from the Airport and into the city centre and bus services around the city. There are very frequent bus journeys between the conference venues and Edinburgh city centre. A day ticket currently costs just £4.00 for unlimited daytime travel. Smartphone apps provide route maps, real-time timetabling and routing (download from ).

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