Practice Abstract – Sustainable Innovation Pilot 4

Traceability solutions for the horticulture greenhouse value chain

Traceability solutions in the Horticulture greenhouse value chain in Spain

Ploutos’ Sustainable Innovation Pilot 4 (SIP4) aims at bridging the gap between pre and post-harvest traceability. One core objective of SIP4 is to ensure the implementation of data intelligence across the horticulture value chain. Moreover, following the automatisation of data collection, the goal is to carry out data analysis, present those data to the farmers and provide incentives to change the methodologies used until now.

How does this work?

Hispatec identified the data collection technologies and defined the inputs needed to generate the data to feed the system. Farmers and agroindustry agents were interviewed to identify these data regarding production and quality, as well as data recorded in the greenhouse using sensors. Also, the team identified data of interest (related to the crop management and consumption) that cannot be captured automatically. 

With all this information, questionnaires were created so that UNICA technicians could register this data manually during periodic visits to the greenhouse. At the same time, 10 weather stations were installed in the greenhouse to measure temperature, humidity, precipitation, solar radiation, photosynthetic solar radiation, wind speed and direction, as well as other sensors and tools to gather post-harvest data. 

The data collection is done by using ETL (Extraction, Transformation and Loading) processes.
ETL allows data to be:
obtained from the pilot fields and post-harvest facilities,
transformed into a standard format (removing those that generate inconsistencies in the data structure)
uploaded into a Data Lake, that provides the necessary information to build the agronomic models. 

Unlocking the power of 4 key insights

Through the implementation of the pilot, some key insights were gained. To move forward, we believe that the challenges and problems we faced so far can help us gain a better understanding and allow us to create sustainable innovations that will rebalance the agri-food value chains!

Outcomes: Important outcomes include:
the integration (in one single platform) of all the technologies for tracing data
the automatisation of the data collection
the conclusion that irrigation and plant nutrition considerably affect production and productivity

Practical Recommendations: From the pilot’s deployment it was concluded that a change in the irrigation strategy is needed. Another recommendation is that farmers should be better informed about the usefulness of the sensors and the benefits of the smart farming software. Finally, it is important to ensure the progressive application of the proposed solutions, in order to allow the smooth transition to data-driven processes.

Traceability solutions in the horticulture greenhouse value chain

Problems: Certainly, as with all projects that bring digital transformation to the foreground, its implementation is not without challenges. Such is the farmers’ concern about the use of their data and the extra time and effort needed to convince them about the utility of the solution.

Outlook: Among the next steps will be to train the farmers to use the technology according to their budget and to show them the economic impact of sustainable farm management. As regards the pilot’s replicability, the implementation has to be supported for at least two growing seasons for better data accuracy.