Powering the next generation of farming with data
As agriculture continues to shift away from the family farm and towards being a data-driven business, today’s farmers and agri-food operators must manage many different and heterogeneous sources of information. As a result, in addition to traditional agricultural equipment like tractors, essential farm equipment now includes technology for collecting, storing, sharing and analysing diverse and large quantities of spatially and non-spatially referenced data. The availability of this data is both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, it enables precision agriculture. On the other hand, this data also poses a barrier to the adoption of precision agriculture. This is because the multitude of data models, formats, interfaces and reference systems currently in use create incompatibilities that require specialised technical knowledge to integrate and interpret all the available sources of information. To help European farmers better manage – and use – this data, the FOODIE project created a cloud-based platform hub to host spatial and non-spatial agricultural data and related open data sources. ‘FOODIE established an open and interoperable cloud services platform that provides advanced and added value services for different stakeholders in the agriculture domain, with a particular focus on supporting the improvement of a farmer’s daily activities,’ says project coordinator Miguel Ángel Esbrí. ‘The FOODIE services platform also provides a set of open and standards-based APIs, allowing external parties to access its services and datasets and enabling them to build new services and applications on top of it.’ Specialised applications The core outcomes of the project include the FOODIE Data Model, where information is kept and shared, and the FOODIE Cloud Platform. From the Cloud Platform, users can access a range of specialised applications developed specifically for farmers. For example, the Marketplace application provides a virtual space to connect consumers and producers of agricultural data and applications. ‘The Marketplace enables customers to find and consume relevant resources in the agri-food domain, including datasets, services, applications, and training materials,’ says Esbrí. ‘Similarly, producers can publish their own datasets, services and applications.’ Other features include a Geoportal for advanced search and metadata visualisation and a Developer’s Corner. A practical toolbox One of FOODIE’s key features is its toolbox for farmers. ‘These are a set of advanced and added-value farmer-specific tools built on top of the FOODIE cloud infrastructure and services and geared towards supporting the daily activities of farmers,’ explains Esbrí. For example, SmartV is a web-based tool that provides advisory services in different aspects related to winegrowing, like disease prevention, production estimation and harvesting scheduling. Its user-friendly design allows winegrowers to apply precision viticulture techniques to manage the variability of the vineyard. It also stores historical information about the status of the vineyard. ‘We provide a unique solution for farmers where they can get all the functionalities needed for the proper management of the vineyard,’ says Esbrí. Other applications within this toolbox include a comprehensive machinery tracking, route and fuel optimisation system for tractors, a crop yield potential calculator and a pest early warning advisor. ‘The FOODIE cloud platform and all of its related tools and applications are well-positioned to help usher in a new generation of cloud-based agricultural products capable of lowering the cost of production and maintenance,’ adds Esbrí.
FOODIE, agriculture, yield maps, precision agriculture, big data, cloud computing, farming