Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Precision Farming: Sowing the seeds of a new agricultural revolution

The adoption of precision farming techniques is allowing the EU to increase its agricultural output whilst ensuring the sustainability of the European agri-food sector. Consequently, the EU has been supporting cutting-edge research and innovation into a number of exciting solutions that will truly harness all of the opportunities from what promises to be a truly 21st century agricultural revolution.
Precision Farming: Sowing the seeds of a new agricultural revolution
Precision farming has the potential to contribute to the wider goal of meeting the increasing demand for food whilst ensuring the sustainability of primary production, based on a more precise and resource efficient approach to production management – in essence ‘producing more with less’. With the explosion in the digital revolution, technologies focused on, for example, Big Data and ‘the Internet of Things’ have also opened numerous doors for the advancement of precision farming techniques.

With 70 to 80 % of new farm equipment having some form of precision farming component within them, precision farming technologies are now present in all four stages of the crop growth cycle (soil preparation, seeding, crop management and harvesting). However it is not just crop and fruit farming that has benefited – farmers engaged in livestock rearing are also experiencing the positive benefits derived from precision farming technologies.

Economic and Environmental Benefits

The European Commission has been extremely keen on fostering precision farming techniques, providing funding for new investments through both the FP7 and Horizon 2020 programmes. This is to guarantee that farmers are not only able to effectively reduce costs without cutting production but also to offer the possibility of substantially increased yields, thus providing an even stronger boost to local economies.

Alongside economic considerations, precision farming also promises substantial environmental benefits, being seen as a means to make Europe’s agri-food sector more sustainable in the long-term, particularly in the drive to reduce the sector’s use of agro-chemicals, such as pesticides. Such environmental benefits will also feed into the EU’s much larger environmental ambitions, such as the tough targets envisioned in the Paris climate change agreement.

Showcasing innovative EU research

This CORDIS Results Pack introduces you to 13 EU-funded projects that have been at the forefront of the precision farming revolution.

Several showcased initiatives, including ECHORD PLUS PLUS (through its dedicated sub-projects GAROTICS and MARS), SWEEPER and VINEROBOT have focused on the development of advanced robotic solutions that will be directly deployed into fields and greenhouses to make the evaluation and picking of crops more efficient and less labour-intensive.

Other projects have concentrated on cutting-edge sensor systems that are able to monitor and analyse agricultural data. In particular, the FIGARO project has developed a complex set of sensors that substantially improves irrigation management for high water-consuming crops, whilst the SYMPHONY project has devised an early-warning system that quickly detects the presence of toxins in milk, thus promising to be of enormous aid to dairy farmers.

Finally, the development of innovative apps and open ICT platforms that aim to advise, inform and assist farmers, as well as encourage active cooperation amongst users, has been the primary goal of another group of projects. The AGROIT project has implemented such an open platform, harnessing the power of modern smartphones and the app economy. Meanwhile, the FOODIE project has put in place a Cloud-based platform to host both spatial and non-spatial agricultural data, whilst the AUDITOR project has developed a ground-based GNSS augmentation system able to deliver high-performance and cost-efficient services and applications to farmers.
Building the high-tech farm of tomorrow
To ensure the competitiveness of European agriculture, the EU-funded ICT-AGRI 2 project worked to enhance and improve farming’s use of ICT and robotics.
Innovative FIWARE-based apps for more productive farming
The EU-funded FRACTALS project provided EUR 5.52 million in funding to 46 SMEs, who collectively produced a portfolio of disruptive FIWARE-based applications for agriculture.
Powering the next generation of farming with data
To help European farmers better manage and use data, the EU-funded FOODIE project has developed a cloud-based platform to host both spatial and non-spatial agricultural data.
Enabling precision farming across Europe through GNSS
Researchers within the EU-funded AUDITOR project have developed a ground-based GNSS augmentation system capable of delivering high-performance and cost-efficient services and...
Using GNSS Reflectometry to map soil moisture
EU-funded researchers have designed a lightweight airborne system which uses satellite signals to measure how moist soil is. It could allow farmers to save water through smart...
Higher quality, more efficient farming through open standards
The EU-funded AGROIT project implemented an open platform based on open standards in order to facilitate a higher quality, more efficient way of farming.
New and innovate mobile apps help farming to get smarter
The EU-funded SMARTAGRIFOOD2 project has boosted innovative ideas for smarter agriculture by supporting entrepreneurs to set-up successful businesses.
Swifter on-site detection of toxins in milk reduces waste
EU-funded scientists have developed a kit to swiftly detect toxins in milk, eliminating the need for expensive and time-consuming off-site laboratory tests.
Pepper robot harvester edges closer to commercialisation
The EU-funded SWEEPER project has made huge leaps in the development of robotic pepper harvesting technology, incorporating the entire production chain and hopes to take its...
A smarter, more precise irrigation system
To help promote sustainable farming, EU-funded researchers working within the FIGARO project have developed an innovative, high-tech irrigation platform capable of accurately...
A Robotic revolution is coming in precision farming
Two pioneering pilot projects have demonstrated how automated precision agriculture can reduce input costs and the environmental impact of heavy machinery, while achieving...
A wheeled robot to monitor grape growth
Just like great wine needs time, great grapes require continuous attention and reliable assessment tools. Noting the absence of a convincing alternative to manual sampling and...
Spy in the cow shed aids farmers
A growing global appetite for meat has led to farms becoming bigger than ever before. Automatic round-the-clock monitoring of livestock using surveillance technology can help busy...

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