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Agro-Innovation in Greece: Digitising Open Field Vegetables – A SmartAgriHubs Experiment

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SmartAgriHubs is a €20 million EU project under the Horizon 2020 instrument and brings together a consortium of well over 164 partners in the European agri-food sector. The project aims to realize the digitization of European agriculture by fostering an agricultural innovation ecosystem dedicated to excellence, sustainability, and success.

To this end, SmartAgriHubs employs a multi-stakeholder approach and covers a broad value-chain network across all EU member states. The consortium includes a diverse network of start-ups, SMEs, business and service providers, technology experts, and end-users. The end-users form the core of the project and are the driving force behind digital transformation. The development and adoption of digital solutions are achieved by a tight ecosystem of 140 Digital Innovation Hubs embedded within 9 Regional Clusters, which are led by organizations that are closely involved in regional digitization initiatives and funds.

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The SmartAgriHubs project serves as a catalyst for game-changing innovations in smart farming techniques. It aims to deliver 80 new digital solutions to the market, raise €30 million additional funding from public, regional, national, and private sources and plans to help digitize over 2 million farms spread across Europe. End-users will be trained and informed throughout the lifespan of SmartAgriHubs (2018-2022), through for instance an innovation portal where information will be easily accessible to farmers and their businesses, thereby creating an efficient and satisfactory user experience. Similarly, a catalog for farmers and agribusinesses will map the existing digital technology field and facilitate the exchange of best practices among the network.

By connecting and fostering European agricultural and IT innovation SmartAgriHubs extends digital solutions into the agri-food sector and helps farmers and their businesses to achieve real and attainable results.

Digitizing Open Field Vegetables in Attica, Greece

The aim of this SmartAgriHubs experiment is to optimize the production of organic open field vegetables, through the use of novel technologies such as drones and IoT sensing systems. The experiment takes place in the historical area of Marathon, which is the main vegetable ‘provider’ for Athens in Greece. The contributing parties consist of the Agricultural University of Athens, two companies; Neuropublic and Marathon Bio Products, along with Gaiasense as our Digital Innovation Hub (DIH).

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The main objective of the experiment is to achieve an increased efficiency of crop inputs usage and agricultural operations, as well as a reduction of the environmental footprint of open-field vegetables. To this end, three scientific outputs have been developed, in the form of services, all integrated into an online cloud infrastructure:

  1. A set of predictive models for organic broccoli irrigation, fertilization, and pest control, using data from connected IoT soil and weather sensors on the fields.
  2. An organic broccoli yield and maturity estimation model based on multispectral drone imagery.
  3. An artificial intelligence Neural Network for weed identification and mapping using low-altitude drone imagery.

Within the lifetime of the experiment, a complete, fully operational cloud-based solution that allows access to these developed services has been created, tested, and validated in rigorous pilot trials, and is expected to be released as a commercial product within 2022.

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