Digital solutions and technologies for the agro sector: practical use cases

Agriculture 4.0 faces the great challenges arising from the growing need for food in quantity and quality, by maximizing its production in a sustainable way, while allowing a climate change mitigation and improving the use of the natural resources. Thus, digital tools, such as remote and proximity sensing, autonomous equipment / robots and the use of artificial intelligence (AI), are some of the solutions that aim to improve the agro-sector management (soil, water, plant). However, it is still need to promote its accessibility, through the development of affordable and customized solutions, and ultimatley translate the data into useful information for farmers.


The objective of this work is to demonstrate the application of affordable and customized solutions with IoT sensing, named SOFIS – Smart Orchard Fertilization and Irrigation System, applied to the management the agro-sector.
SOFIS is a system based on low-cost fixed sensors for the smart management of irrigation and fertilization. This solution is developed and adapted according to the individual needs of each fraction and agricultural reality. SOFIS connects real-time data between the field, the digital management platform and the farmers. By means of biophysical principles, the data are modeled and validated by AI algorithms, for pattern recognition and development of models adapted to the culture and edaphoclimatic region, allowing the generation of useful and integrated decision support information.

A presentation by Cátia Pinto, Secretary Genereal, SFColab.

Interview

Question 1: What drives you?
I am driven by the passion for the development of new sustainable approaches for crop management and food safety and to transpose the knowledge from research science to innovation. I am fully convinced that such bridges with a holistic approach will be a key future for the innovation of the Agro Sector and the bases to keep the equilibrium and preservation of the biodiversity and the ecosystems.

Question 2: Why should the delegate attend your presentation?
To see the importance on combining or match the real farmer needs with the most adequated technological solution; in this case, the development of customized and affordable solutions such as SOFIS – Smart Orchard Fertilization and Irrigation System. And, on top of that, to be aware that to implement these digital solutions correclty and accuratly is important to give the exactly support for farmers or any end-user. That means: prepare our society for these digital applications.

Question 3: What emerging technologies/trends do you see as having the greatest potential in the short and long run?
Development and/or application of biosensors for plant diseases diagnostics; development of tools for data integration

Question 4: What kind of impact do you expect them to have?
Support the daily-basis management of the agro-sector; produce more by using less resources; higher quality products (valorization); and, thus contribute for a more sustainable and competitiveness agro-sector.

Question 5: What are the barriers that might stand in the way?
Technology dogma (barriers on the application of digital solutions in the agro-sector; price); regulatory issues; time need for R&D (development, testing and validation)

About Catia Pinto
Cátia Pinto is the Executive Secretary at SFCOLAB, focusing on Digital Innovations for
Agriculture. Holds a double PhD in Biology and Molecular Genetics (2017) by a European network cotutelle from University of Aveiro (Portugal), Université de Reims Champagne Ardenne – URCA (France) and Biocant. Previously Cátia Pinto was the Head of Science of an AgTech startup based in Sacramento (2018-2020), specialized in the Microbial Intelligence for Sustainable Intensity in Agriculture. She is author of the firsts worldwide pioneer results concerning the grapevine-microbial interaction. With more than 9 years’ experience in R&D of the Vine&Wine, she has been developing research over soil/plant associated microbiome and their potential as biosensors of crop health, crop protection and crop tracking.

About SFColab
The Smart Farm Colab (SFColab) is a non-profit Collaborative Laboratory based in Torres Vedras (Lisbon region, Portugal), founded on April 24 th 2019 by a consortium of private companies, Universities and Torres Vedras Municipality, aiming to boost the Digital Innovation in Agriculture.
With the high support of the Portuguese Ministry of Science and Technology, the SFColab was created within the global Agro challenge of producing more with less by decreasing and optimizing the resources and decreasing the carbon footprint. Facing currently the Agriculture 4.0 and the Big Data Era, SFColab targets applied research (TRL5-8) and technology transfer, aiming to develop sustainable production strategies and innovative techniques for the efficient use of resources such as soil, water and Ag-inputs, through the development of intelligent machines and real-time monitoring systems.

Catia Pinto is speaker at the 2021 edition of the Smart Farming Conference.

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