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Remote precision management of turf grass sod production by means of artificial intelligence and satellite imaging

Final Report Summary - SODSAT (Remote precision management of turf grass sod production by means of artificial intelligence and satellite imaging)

Executive Summary:
Sod or Turf Grass as it is more commonly known, is used extensively in sports and landscaping projects. Although natural sod has been replaced with synthetic turf in some cases, turf grass still is still the choice for many sports and landscaping projects. Just like any other agricultural crop, sod has special requirements and unlike synthetic grass which can be easily ‘designed’ in a manufacturing plant, sod farming requires great skill and precise control to reach the quality required for many applications. These qualities include color, free from diseases, uniformity in color and size and many more parameters sod clients look for. Sports requirements are normally even more stringent and demanding than that of landscaping. It goes without saying that when millions of viewer are watching a sport event unfold, the surface quality should be of the best quality.

Just like any other agricultural farming activity, sod farming comes with its own impacts on the environment. For year round production, sod needs to be irrigated, fertilized and maintained. Sod requires large amounts of water, and is prone to diseases particularly fugal diseases and hence fungicides are quite commonly used in the industry. Until now, farmers and agronomists have relied on basic measurements and tools to determine the needs of their crop. Fungicides are applied when visual symptoms are seen and irrigation is applied through simple models of calculation based on generic weather condition, rainfall and crop demands.

Sodsat is a project aimed at providing sod farmers and agronomist a tool for better management of their sod fields. The tool is based on three pillars; Sensors provide real time data about the status of the field, Satellite images provide, literally, a picture into the crop’s health and finally an expert system with a tailored knowledgebase on different sod varieties, soil types, diseases, etc. A long range wireless sensor network provides data on the field status. All the data is uploaded to a database in the cloud where the expert system makes the analysis and provide the results. Satellite images are also analyzed in the same system. The output of the system comes in different forms, but it is mostly an irrigation schedule and a list of disease occurrences and percentages identifying the likelihood of certain diseases occurring.

Using Sodsat, farmers and agronomist can rely on analysed data, which in turn provides them with decision support and early notice of problems that would later be difficult and costly to solve. Sodsat provides accurate irrigation scheduling saving on water resources and avoiding fungal problems due to over irrigation. Overall, through Sodsat, farmers will be able to offer a better quality product with as minimum expenses as possible. Based on our estimations, Sodsat provides a return on investment to farmers in under 1 year.

Project Context and Objectives:
The Main Objective of the SodSat project is to increase the competitiveness of turf grass producers by providing a novel remote intelligent turf management system by means of Artificial Intelligence and satellite imaging.

The agricultural surfaces employed for turf grass sod production are increasing yearly due to the expanding demand and the relative profitability of this type of crop. Sod (natural turf) production in the EU can be estimated to be in excess of 80,000 ha and involves 20,000 workers, generating revenue of approximately €2.4 Billion. As such, turf grass sod production is gradually shifting from the status of niche production to agricultural crop proper.

In order to maintain the current profitability in an increasingly competitive market, sod growers need to increase or maintain certain quality parameters (such as uniformity of colour, texture and density), while addressing spiraling costs for fertilizers, pesticides and irrigation water. Naturally, an optimization in the use of these inputs would not only keep production costs down, but would also greatly diminish the environmental impact and footprint of sod production.

Satellite spectral imagery, on account of the frequent high correlation between spectral reflectance parameters and several crop parameters, would go a long way in identifying excesses or deficiencies in irrigation and fertilization.

Although satellite imagery analysis for crop production already exists, it is aimed and calibrated for traditional crops (such as wheat and maize) and not for turf grass sod production. As a result, the development of dedicated new tools to be used in such production fields is required to address this state of affairs. Such an addition of on-site valuable sensing will also increase the yield on natural turf grass production.

This two-year project proposes to address the current situation by developing a web based expert system, multi spectral satellite imaging analysis and on-site sensing and portable devices software to aid decision-making in sod farms, in order to decrease chemical and agronomical inputs, while maintaining or increasing turf grass quality. The system will provide expert agronomical recommendations based on its historic and current data and current multi spectral image processing and on-site sensing.

Sod farms are normally very large (reaching up to 100ha in one field). This means that wireless networks and wireless sensor systems developed for regular/crop agriculture and horticultural applications cannot be used in sod farms. The project aims to develop a wireless network infrastructure that caters specifically for the size and needs of sod farms. The network is low power and very long range to reach far without the need of repeaters. The sensor network is capable of reading, among others, weather data, soil water content and evapotranspiration for accurate irrigation planning.

The use of aerial multi-spectral imaging and sensors combined with expert system is not a first in agriculture, but the combination of both technologies is relatively new in the field of agricultural science. This makes it possible to combine information on a macro level with that at a micro level. In Sod farming, the size of the farms make it impossible to have sensors analysing each micro level part within a very large field/farm. With a combination of spectral imagery and sensors integrated into an expert system farmers are provided with precise decisions on irrigation and fertigation. Furthermore, disease and fungi outbreaks are detected and in some cases predicted before they actually occur.

Throughout the project, several demonstrators and controlled trials, in conjunction with scientific knowledge where used to determine ‘rules’ which make up the knowledgebase of the system. This is the intelligence of the system. This intelligence, takes into consideration, meteorological factors, site conditions and other important factors (eg. soil type) to infer and establish decisions and action plans for sod farmers and agronomists.

The end result of the project is a combination of hardware, placed in the field and software in the cloud. The software uses inputs from field, satellite and external sources and provides an easy to use interface for easy access to all the functionality of the system

Project Results:
Advanced Knowledge on turf management and correlation with on-field data based indexes and satellite imaging.

Traditional systems use ‘limits’ to provide simple control to some particular factor. Temperature, for example, can be controlled by a heater or air-conditioner using a device called a thermostat, which starts/operates a heater/air condition based on a pre-set set point. Unfortunately, sod production, and to an extent, all types of crop production, rely on a complex array of factors. Temperature, humidity, light, wind, soil conditions, vapor pressure, time, crop variety and many more factors that influence decisions such as irrigation, fertigation and chemical applications (fungicides, etc). For an agronomist, the decision to irrigate does not fall on some particular set point but on a complex formula based on these factors.

For Sodsat, this meant the creation of a knowledgebase that is made up of datasets of factors and their influence on the different sod varieties, their impact on diseases, etc. As a simple example consider the fungi Pythium, a common problem in sod production. A typical dataset could have ten factors, including temperature, humidity, wind, etc and an equation or rule joins these factors together to provide a percentage output showing the probability of the disease occurring under the current conditions. A special software, namely an expert system and rule engine, is then used to go through the knowledgebase and ‘infer’ the output based on the inputs provided.

The second part of this result focuses on the spectral reflectance analysis and integration of the analysis into the knowledgebase. The analysis of radiation reflected by plants can supply precious information on the nutritional and water status of many plant species, including turfgrass and hence can be used via remote sensing as a diagnostic tool for managing fertilization and irrigation. In particular, the combined adoption of geographic information systems, global positioning systems, multispectral lenses on board satellites and cartographic techniques allow a large scale management of agricultural resources. The Sodsat system aims at making large use of satellite spectral imagery to supply precious info to sod farmers in order to help them in managing turfgrass production in an environmentally and financially viable way.

Three test sites (Italy, Norway and Slovakia) where used with different conditions. Fields where separated in regions and different conditions where placed. These included different irrigation schedules, different fertilization schemes (mostly related to Nitrogen regimes), different varieties etc. Obviously certain conditions could not be controlled (eg. Temperature) but the difference in such factors between the different countries could be seen. Once the different multi-spectral analysis pictures where taken, special software designed by the consortium was used to extract the various NDVI indices from the raw images. Different types of satellites where used, (4 channel & 8 channel) and hence different NDVI indices where extracted. After the images where processed the data was analyzed by agronomists and then using computer vision, the regions of interest where segmented and processed to automatically register the ‘conditions’ shown in the field based on the data provided. The output from the satellite images, combined with real-time field data provides better accuracy and a better picture of the progress of particular conditions in the field. Eg, if the real-time data shows a high probability of occurrence of Pythium in the field for 10 days, the data can be correlated with a satellite image which would show, on a specific NDVI index, a progression of stress on the crops from the occurrence of Pythium.

The final output of this result, is a knowledgebase, a group of files of structured data. This knowledge combined with specialized software, is capable of inferring complex decisions, taking into account many factors, thereby making more informed decisions. The knowledgebase, although structured for the needs of the developed software in Sodsat, can be used in other projects/products, should the need arise.

On-site, cloud connected, cloud connected, long range wireless sensor network for sod production.

The main hardware result that emerged from the Sodsat project is a network of sensors that are installed in the field to provide real-time, information, about the status on the field. It can be argued that other products, available commercially, have already been developed for this particular need but one has to factor in the requirements of sod production to reach to a conclusion that no products, as of yet, meets the need of sod production.

Sod farms, are very large sometimes reaching sizes of more than 100Ha in one single field. This makes regular wireless networks unusable due to the long range required to reach various zones on the field. Sod farms are also quite remote, and the optimum placement of the gateway is not always near the farm’s office or ‘internet enabled’ workshops, etc. There data has to be uploaded via mobile networks to the cloud so that it can be processed in the expert system.

The gateway, is the main controller of the system. It is based on a low power embedded computer, running the Linux operating system. The gateway is battery powered and therefore, in remote areas where power is not available, the system can operate through a solar charged battery (charger already included in the gateway). The gateway has an 868Mhz tranciever with a high power amplifier to communicate with the rest of the network, a sensor interface to read the different sensors connected with it, a 3G/GPRS modem, battery, charge and the central ARM controller. The gateway has been designed to be highly modular. It can be configured to connect to all the sensors of the system or a portion of the sensors.

The wireless nodes have been specifically designed to be low power, whilst keeping the long-range possibilities of the system. The nodes have a line of sight range of 5km which is well within the requirements of the Sodsat system. The nodes interface with nearly all of the sensors within the system and work on a ‘on-demand’ availability for the gateway to request data whenever required. The nodes were designed to meet IP68 approval as in some conditions it is expected to have the nodes fully submerged in snow or water.

The sensors of the system make up the interface between the network and the real factors that matter on the field. The system uses, temperature, humidity, vapor pressure, rain, wind, evapotranspiration, leaf wetness, soil water content, soil electrical conductivity and soil temperature. Of particular importance is evapotranspiration, which measures the amount of water lost due to evapotranspiration. The most important factor, considering competing sensors and system, is that in Sodsat, evapotranspiration is not ‘estimated’ by measuring wind and solar radiation (as is done in most competing systems) but it is actually modelled using a differential temperature sensor approach. This method provides more accurate results and makes it possible many more factors such as humidity, etc. Finally, to complement the system, special cases where designed for the hardware based on the needs of each hardware component.

Sodsat Software

The third and final result of Sodsat is the software of the system. The software of the system can be split into different modules. The back-end of the system is mainly composed of the expert system. The expert system was built using the Drools expert framework. The expert system contains the following 3 sub modules 1) Irrigation Expert System which determines the amount of water that needs to be reintegrated to the soil within a determined range of time, 2)Weed Expert System: which calculates the probability of different kind of weed to appear in a determined area of the golf course and 3) Fungi Expert System: performs the calculus of the probability of different fungi turf diseases to appear in the golf field.

Each branch of the expert system is implemented independently taking into account their own set of rules, and generating their own notifications and alarms which are sent to the SodSat application. These rules are extracted from the knowledge of the SodSat expert partners in turf. The whole expert system runs online in the cloud, and requires a windows server to run.

The second module of the system is the front end. The front end allows farmers and agronomists to access the functionality of the system. It is a web based front end mostly based on Microsoft technologies. The front end of the system also provides access directly to the data within the database for direct and real-time data access. The front end comes in 3 sub modules: 1) A web-based application accessible through any web browser (like a traditional desktop application). This application grants access to all the information available and can be considered the main source to check the turfgrass status. 2) A mobile application with most of the web-based application functionalities available, with an adapted view due to the reduced visualisation display of mobile phones. Finally, consider that in order to access the information in the server, the mobile phone needs Internet access either by using a Wi-Fi connection or the mobile data connection. 3) A documental repository with useful information on turf maintenance. The repository will be accessible to both the web-based and mobile application, and will indicate the user the best set of actions to correct any problem or to improve the quality of the turf grass.

Potential Impact:
The expected final result of this project is a web based expert system, multi spectral satellite imaging analysis and on-site sensing augmented with portable devices software to aid decision-making in sod farms, in order to decrease chemical and agronomical inputs, while maintaining or increasing turf grass quality. The system will provide expert agronomical recommendations based on its historic and current data and current multi spectral image processing and on-site sensing.

Sod farmers will benefit from savings of irrigation and fertigation but more importantly they will be able to deliver higher quality sod with uniform properties as required by their clients. Agronomists, on the other hand, have a tool that assists them in their decision making processes and provides them with real-time information about the field and crop status. It also provides them access to Satellite Imagery and processed data with NDVI indexes and their relation with the sod farm under analysis.
Besides the direct benefits to end-user SMEs, this project has a much wider impact on the environment, on society as well as an economic impact.

Environmental and ecological Impact

SodSat technology aims to provide turfgrass producers with a new advanced and specialised tool that will help optimise resources resulting in increased profitability and competitiveness, meanwhile decreasing environmental impact during production. Rising living standards have pushed the use of water resources beyond sustainable levels, according to the outcomes of the 6th World Water Forum in Marseille, an indication that Europe has so far concentrated on increasing the supply of water rather than exploring ways to limit its demand. As a result, the Environmental European Agency indicated that all Europe, Southern Europe in particular, is experiencing chronic water scarcity, and climate change will only aggravate the situation. As a result, there is a need to better control water recreational usage.

Environmental legislation is becoming more rigorous, and there are various issues surrounding turfgrass production with regards to environmental issues such as:
- Water usage in water stressed areas
- Water conservation
- Surface water run-off and water quality management
- Over-application (fertilizers, chemicals, etc.)
- Refuse and silt transportation during storm events.

SodSat contributes to the fulfilment and optimization of the above points and it is also strongly aligned and committed with the more recent EU policies such as the European Water Framework Directive (WFD) (2000/60/EC), a cornerstone of EU environmental policy with the aim of protecting water ecosystems in terms of water quality and quantity. Turfgrass producers can benefit from modern precision-farming technologies such as those offered by SodSat to make a big advancement on productivity but also on the environmental optimization of turfgrass production in order to face competition. According to a recent report by the Environmental European Agency (EEA), on efficient use of water resources in Europe (EEA Report No 1/2012), “economic production cannot be sustained if it implies excessive water use and burdens natural systems. Future economic growth must therefore be decoupled from environmental impacts. This process requires focus on resource-efficiency innovations and instruments, and on environmental sustainability boundaries.” Furthermore, SodSat aims at improving the environmental standards by the optimization of the use of water fertilizers by sod producers and helps to comply with National EU policies such as the Common Agriculture Policy, Nitrate directive (Council Directive 91/676/EEC. As a result, SodSat will contribute to the conservation of the limited water resources, to the reduction in pollution by limiting the quantities of fertilizers added to irrigation water, and to the reduction of energy used for irrigation by avoiding the need of pesticides by means of prognosis on turf health.

Socio-economic impact

Socio-economic benefits van be obtained if chemical and agronomical inputs such as pesticides and fertilisers are reduced, as these have an adverse effect on the health on humans in general. The National Coalition for Pesticide-Free Lawns says, “Of 30 commonly used lawn pesticides, 19 are linked with cancer or carcinogenicity, 13 are linked with birth defects, 21 with reproductive effects, 26 with liver or kidney damage, 15 with neurotoxicity, and 11 with disruption of the endocrine system.” Reducing fertilisers and pesticides will improve the well-being of the general public and reduce the negative impact on water contamination as well since these can potentially migrate into the drinking water supplies. Improper and/or excessive application of pesticides and fertilizers can also have a negative impact on storm water infiltration into groundwater. When these contaminants dissolve in storm water they may infiltrate into the groundwater, which can then contaminate drinking water supplies or end up in surface waters.

The objective of SodSat to optimise the use of water, fertiliser and pesticides can have positive socio-economic benefits and welfare on both the farmer (reduced expenditure and compliance with environmental policies) and the society in general (less pollution and minimised groundwater contamination), while minimising adverse impacts on the environment (i.e. deterioration of the quantitative and qualitative status, functioning of the ecosystems).

Furthermore, the EU's resource-efficiency flagship initiative under the Europe 2020 strategy has the dual objective of decoupling resource use from economic growth, and this can be directly achieved with the SodSat system as use of resources is used in a more controlled manner, leading to socio-economic benefits as explained previously. Hence, the investment in SodSat’s correct use in irrigation/fertiliser/pesticide technologies is necessary for society to maximize the environmental, economic and social benefits of cultivated and maintained landscapes.

Dissemination of results

In order to ensure that the results and deliverables of the project reach members external to the consortium, a process which is essential for the take-up and sustainability of outputs in the long term, the project partners engaged in a series of activities to promote the project and make sure it reached a wider audience. A dissemination plan was set up at the initial stages of the project, and it was continuously reviewed and monitored by key performance indicators (KPIs) identified by the exploitation committee. As an initial step, the consortium completed several measures to create an identity - a unified brand image for the project that includes a logo, presentation templates and typical images used on public material to create a cohesive experience for the users.

After evaluating a series of options, the logo which received the most votes was selected. The project logo was displayed on all dissemination material, together with the EU FP7 logo and the relevant information regarding the financial support of the EC. The project logo was also available on the project website, making it accessible to all the consortium members.

A project website was developed to present content to an audience external from the consortium. A private area reserved for partners of the consortium was also developed to allow for the sharing of restricted information. The content of the website is divided in several pages that can be accessed through the horizontal navigation menu at the top of the page. Google analytics indicate that there were around 5,600 page views over the period Feb 2015 – Jan 2016, an average of 465 page views a month. Views came mostly from the USA, Brazil and China. The project website will be updated beyond the lifetime of the project by the partners, giving updates of the development and commercialisation of the system, and also the important contact details and manuals for operation.

A professional promotional video about the development of Sodsat was produced in line with the Description of Work requirements. The video is available on the project website and also on the most popular public video sharing sites. The video is two minutes long, and its storyboard can be reviewed in Newsletter Issue II.
Partners agreed that preparing a project leaflet at the beginning to the project would establish the basis of the dissemination actions from an early stage, and support the consortium to achieve a stronger impact. The design of the leaflet and the poster were consistent with the project logo and website, therefore representing a cohesive appearance of the dissemination material. The leaflet and the poster describe the need, the aim and the innovation aspects of the project. It contains also the company logos of each beneficiary, the basic information on the project and the paragraph which indicates the source of funding: The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme managed by REA Research Executive Agency FP7/2007-2013 under grant agreement no. 605729”. The printable formats of the leaflet and the poster are downloadable from the project website. The leaflet available in the English language can be reviewed in Annex II in the PUDF.

Another tool for increasing project dissemination consisted in the newsletters which were prepared every 6 months. All partners contributed to the contents which were vetted and edited by the exploitation manager Dr Ingegnoli. The first issue was published in M6 (July 2014), consistent with the graphic design of the other project dissemination material, and the last issue was published in M24 (January 2016). The newsletters were distributed by the consortium members throughout the various dissemination activities that they attended, and are available also on the project website from where they can be viewed and downloaded.

Three press releases were published by ATEKNEA in collaboration with the exploitation manager and reviewed by the exploitation committee on the CORDIS portal: two on the “News and Events” section, and another one on the “Projects and Results” section. The two press releases on the “News and Events” section were published at the start of the project whereas the one on the “Projects and Results” section was published later, in M7 of the project. These press releases describe the general objectives of the project, the need for the SodSat system as well as the solution that such a system provides. These press releases are available in six different languages: English, German, French, Italian, Spanish and Polish.

Several other articles were published on online journals and magazines related to the turfgrass and agricultural sector, following the approval of the exploitation manager and the exploitation committee. A summary is provided in this report but a full list of articles including a detailed description can be seen in the PUDF. Some articles include: “EU project tackles growing pains”, Technical article by Dr Claudia Bertoldi (TURFE) on the TPI Turf News magazine, Sep Oct 2015 edition. “SODSAT - Remote precision management of turf grass sod production by means of AI and satellite imaging”, Technical Article by Dr Filippo Lulli (TURFE) on ETS (European Turfgrass Society) Newsletter 4/2015 (page 18); Abstract presented and accepted in the “special issue” of Crop Science Journal dedicated to the 5th European Turfgrass Society (ETS) Conference which will take place in Algarve (PT) in January 2017. Full paper deadline 15th March 2016; Notification of acceptance October 15 2016; Expected publication January 15th 2017.

Project partners introduced the Sodsat project to their members of staff and placed material on their company website to make sure this reaches all of their clients and a wider audience. The partners attended also a number of conferences and events which are related to the growing of turf, and made oral presentations, handed out leaflets and promotional material related to Sodsat. Some of these events include: a Seminar at Turin Olympic Stadium - Torino (Italy) 16-17 February 2014, a Seminar at Parcs et Sports - Lyon (France) 10-11 March 2014, the 4th European Turfgrass Society Conference - Osnabrueck (Germany) 6-9 July 2014, a Seminar - University of Pisa on the 3rd of June 2014, and a manned stand displaying developed content and promotional material of Sodsat at at Spoga+Gafa Fair – Cologne (Germany), 31 August – 2 September 2014. Other fairs attended include also the Demogarden Fair, 5th Edition – Pisa (Italy), 20-22 September 2014, ETS Field Days 2015, University of Copenhagen, Helsingor (DK) 6-8 October 2015, Scandinavian Turf Producer Association convention, Norsk Gartnerforbund 4-6 March 2015, the Turfgrass Growers Association (TGA) annual meeting in Lincolnshire England, 5 - 6 December 2014, the GARDEX - International Garden Expo held from 14th October to the 16th October 2015 at the Makuhari Messe International Exhibition in Chiba, Japan and between the 24 and the 26th September the 2014 European turf grass meeting in Munich Germany.

The SodSat project has successfully brought together a number of European turf producers and experts to collaborate and develop a tool for the remote precision management of turf grass sod production by means of artificial intelligence and satellite imaging. It was at the project meetings that four members from the SodSat consortiuom (TURFE, RICHTER, OSTFOLD and PLANTEC) took the initiative to constitute a non-for-profit SME Association ‘European Turfgrass Producers Association’ which was set up in PISA in November 2014. The association operates with the following objectives:

• To connect turf growers throughout Europe.
• To enable networking and information exchange between members throughout Europe facilitated by an interactive website and social media.
• To support a Turf Show every two years, in different European countries, to showcase innovations in turf production, and to include a conference and seminar programme.
• To hold a turf growers meeting and social gathering, in non-show years.
• To encourage research into common problems found in turf production.
• To provide a voice for turf growers in Europe.
• To organise study tours in different European countries.

The association also serves as a platform to disseminate SodSat results, and have a community of followers interested in the development of the product and future similar developments. Through this networking, the exploitation committee can investigate future collaboration opportunities for exploitation and further development with the members of this association.

Through the platform, partners were able to organise a number of turfgrass farm visits were experts from TURFE promoted and disseminated the SodSat project results. This gave the RTD Partner the opportunity to meet with SMEs who would be future end users of the SODSAT system and to evaluate their response to the presented developments of SODSAT. The outcome from such visits was very favourable and the SMEs were enthusiastic about the product, especially the function of the satellite imagery analysis which they believed constituted a crucial input to their overall management program. All SMEs showed a great interest and eagerness to be users of SODSAT once this is officially launched in the market.

Exploitation of results

The results emanating from Sodsat are several, for which the partners agreed to share joint ownership. The consortium identified four main potential results (foreground) of this project which SME partners will protect. These include:
1. The complete SodSat system, containing IDE environment, satellite image processing and hardware.
2. The Advanced expert knowledge on turf management and correlation with on-field databased indexes and satellite imaging;
3. The SodSat software;
4. The SodSat hardware.

It was agreed by the exploitation committee that the most adequate exploitation/distribution route is for the SMEs to be directly involved in the sales and/or hiring of the system, without any intermediary. It is planned that initial distribution takes place through the existing customer base of the partners, as well as through contacts developed during the dissemination activities of the project. Due to the huge potential market, some third parties’ involvement is envisaged in the form of licensing at a later stage in order to expand territory.

The units of the SodSat system are the main hub and the node(s). The number of nodes depend on the size of the field and also on the client’s requirements for specific readings. The cost of a basic SodSat system (including only a main hub and no nodes) rests at €1,611. Depending on the additions that a user might require, prices will go up accordingly. These include €430 per extra node. In addition there are periodic maintenance fees that include battery replacements, data connection subscriptions, web hosting and panchromatic satellite image per year that can provide 4 bands of information: red, green & blue which are used to create a true colour image, and Near Infrared (NIR) which is used to create a Normalised Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI). This NDVI is an index which has a strong correlation to crop vigour.
The Parties shall enter into good faith discussions and take such steps as may be required to protect the Joint Foreground by IP Rights and to enforce such IP rights whenever necessary, including keeping the Joint Foreground confidential and delaying any publication or other dissemination activity if such activities are likely to prejudice the protection and/or the Commercial Use of the Joint Foreground.

All applications for patents or other IP rights shall be made in the name of all Parties, however in case a partner wishes not to contribute, or not to continue its contribution, it is necessary for this partner to (i) notify the other Parties in writing of its decision as soon as possible; (ii) to forthwith relinquish all its title to and interest in such jointly owned patents, patent applications or other registered IP rights protecting the Joint Foreground for the countries or territories concerned in favour of the other Parties who contribute or continue their contribution, as the case may be, to such costs; and (iii) to lose its rights with respect to such jointly owned patents, patent applications or other registered IP rights as of the moment of notification, but subject, however, to the retention of a non-transferable, nonexclusive, royalty-free and fully paid-up licence, without the right to grant sublicenses, to use the Joint Foreground protected patents, patent applications or other registered IP rights for its own internal use only.

On agreement by the consortium, each party may take action for infringement against any Third Parties that infringe the IP rights of the Parties on the Joint Foreground. A Party who takes action for infringement against such Third Parties shall notify the other Parties of the action that has been brought and the Parties may mutually agree on additional measures and actions to be taken against such infringing Third Parties. All Parties shall employ their best efforts and collaborate in order to enforce their IP rights against infringing Third Parties as rapidly and effectively as reasonably possible.

In agreement with all consortium partners, it is agreed that each Party shall have the irrevocable and worldwide right to use the Joint Foreground in all kinds of Further Research activities, including Third Party Research. Each Party is free to undertake Further Research and Third Party Research on the Joint Foreground without notifying or compensating the other Parties in any way.

Each Party shall have the irrevocable right to carry out Commercial Use of the Joint Foreground, alone or in cooperation with Third Parties, including the right to grant licences to the Joint Foreground (including the right to sublicense) to Third Parties. The division of exploitation activities to be carried out by the respective partners is as follows: BOTTOS will be the main distributor of the SodSat system and commercial trader. BOTTOS will coordinate representatives on different countries (EU, and also out of Europe) and third parties, as well as the marketing activities and will be the representatives for Central Europe. ARTHAUS will provide the software system management, maintenance and future advancement to the SodSat system. They will also be the representatives for Eastern Europe. TECMIC will provide the manufacturing and distribution of the electronics for the SodSat system. They will be the representative in Southern Europe and South America, whereas, PLANTEC, RICHTER and OST as End-user SMEs, will act as a “test lab” for the exploitation to future clients at the different geographic regions.

If a Party intends to carry out Commercial Use other than or not included in the above-mentioned designated areas, it shall inform the other Parties ninety (90) days in advance. The other Parties shall have the right to object to such Commercial Use, if they can prove that their legitimate commercial interests would be negatively affected. In such case, the Parties involved shall enter good faith discussions in order to reach a solution satisfying the legitimate commercial interests of all Parties involved.

Any Enhanced Foreground generated by modifications, adaptations, updates, corrections, translations, upgrades, enhancements and developments of the Joint Foreground shall be the ownership of the Party or the Parties and/or the Third Parties participating in the Further Research, Third Party research or Commercial Use activities under which Enhanced Foreground is generated, according to their agreement.

Each Party undertakes to treat the Joint Foreground as confidential and to take all appropriate steps as on its own behalf and as on behalf of its employees having access to the Joint Foreground to ensure it is kept confidential.

List of Websites:

SodSat Distributors:

Via Lusevera,
San Vito al Tagliamento (PN),
33078, Italy

Tel: +39.0434.80027