Smart Farming solutions improve agri-food sustainability and boost agri-tourism
Sustainable Innovation Pilot 11 (SIP11) aims at improving the sustainability of the agri-food chains in the Balearic Islands. An important innovation is the use of the “NADIA” platform; a Decision Support System that collects data from the fields and provides guidance to achieve sustainable farming.
Moreover, SIP11 promotes the generation of synergies between tourism & agriculture, in order to achieve a systemic change.
SIP11 develops a technology solution, based on smart farming. The system consists of a suite of environmental sensing equipment, as well as data collection and processing mechanisms that support intelligent decision-making with regard to farming practices. Through the use of NADIA platform, AGROMA has access to real-time weather conditions at the farm, weather forecasts on a parcel level, soil conditions, and production predictions based on various parameters, such as water consumption and pesticide usage.
In addition to this, the system will also provide traceability solutions that allow for the sharing of information throughout the entire value chain. This service will enable the collection and provision of data related to the applied farming and processing practices of fruit and vegetable products on the fly.
How does the pilot work?
The majority (85%) of the Balearic Islands territory is managed by the agricultural sector, but there is also a thriving tourism industry that contributes to the economic activity of the area. The project aims to enhance both the agricultural & tourism offerings by integrating them. The challenge is to increase the digitisation of the agri-food sector using the IoT solution NADIA, and to promote the idea that agriculture is essential to tourism, as tourists are interested in the agricultural aspect of the Balearic Islands.
Creating a system in which agricultural lands can also serve as a means of promoting economic growth from tourist activity is a win-win proposition. However, certain challenges must be taken into account to properly develop this synergy between agri-food and tourism. First and foremost, the islands’ economic, social, and environmental sustainability depends on striking a balance between the two sectors. Additionally, the agricultural sector is lagging behind other sectors in terms of innovation and adoption of disruptive technologies.
The application of IoT solutions aims to make the agricultural sector more competitive and generate more synergies with the tourism sector, thereby increasing its income and positive impact on the area. Data collected and shared between the sectors include: environmental and weather data such as temperature, humidity, PAR radiation, evaporation, atmospheric pressure, wind speed, and wind direction. Cultivation-related data such as parcel coordinates, cultivation type, irrigation systems, and number of plants per hectare are also shared, as well as farmer’s activities calendar data, including planting and harvesting dates, growth stages, blooming periods, pesticide applications, irrigations, and fertilizers used.
Unlocking the power of 4 key insights
Through the implementation of the pilot, some key insights were gained.
The challenges and problems faced so far, help us gain a better understanding, create sustainable innovations that will rebalance the agri-food value chains and move towards a fair agricultural system.
Outcomes: Important outcomes that motivate farmers to adopt sustainable farming practices include:
-the enhancement of the decision-making process of the Agromallorca engineers that led to a reduction of the production costs.
-the creation of a system adapted to the end-users’ needs, stemming from the engagement of the engineers early on in the design process.
Practical Recommendations: One practical recommendation is the use of active communication. Such an
example is the use of the slogan “Without agriculture there is no tourism” which reported positive results. Moreover, tangible results should always be preferred over words and estimations, to convince people to integrate smart farming technologies.
Problems: A problem that impedes the progress of SIP11 is the acknowledged resistance to change and the mistrust that characterizes the behavior of most farmers. One suggestion is the application of the “Show don’t tell” principle.
Outlook: To ensure the pilot’s replicability, it’s important to engage key actors who are able to work and
collaborate with various stakeholders. Based on the results, it’s safe to estimate that the digitisation of the
agricultural processes and the collaboration between agri-food and tourism, will be achieved.