Skip to main content

Transfer of INNOvative techniques for sustainable WAter use in FERtigated crops

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - FERTINNOWA (Transfer of INNOvative techniques for sustainable WAter use in FERtigated crops)

Reporting period: 2017-07-01 to 2018-12-31

All over Europe, agriculture and horticulture experience severe water scarcity on the one hand and pose significant problems regarding nutrient enrichment of both surface and groundwater on the other hand. In horticulture, the introduction of fertigation led to a remarkable increase in the water and nutrient use efficiency. Moreover, the implementation of fertigation can result in a significant reduction in the environmental impact of horticultural crops. Still, fertigated crops can make significant steps forward towards more sustainable water and nutrient use through the implementation of new technologies and practices. But today we see that available technologies are not implemented at the farms.
The FERTINNOWA thematic network aims to support the implementation of available and new technologies. To achieve this, FERTINNOWA will collect, exchange, showcase and transfer innovative water and nutrient management solutions and best practices that improve both water and nutrient use efficiency and reduce the environmental impact of fertigated horticulture production systems.
FERTINNOWA followed the EIP-Agri “multi-actor approach”, implementing an interactive innovation model, for engaging with different stakeholders at regional, national and European level on the area of fertigated horticulture. Through our different activities, the project has gathered insights on the barriers and incentives for the adoption of innovative technologies in fertigation as well as on the needs from end-users (growers and advisors) and other stakeholders in the horticulture industry, such as researchers and technology providers. FERTINNOWA successfully managed to raise awareness and implement changes on different levels. We brought together all actors in the horticulture industry allows identifying measures to overcome the barriers that delay the adoption of research results by end-users.
In total 1 031 stakeholders participated in the individual (benchmark survey) or collective consultations being: 679 growers (66%), 189 advisors (18%), 75 technology suppliers (7%), 79 researchers (8%), 9 representatives of authorities (1%) and 42 other type of stakeholders (6%). Collective consultations were carried out in Belgium, France, Slovenia, Spain, Bulgaria, Italy, Poland, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom. During these interviews, important two-ways exchange occurred regarding more sustainable use of water, fertilisers, and use of technologies. The consortium members through these consultations strengthen their links with the end users.
The Fertigation Bible is a major deliverable of the FERTINNOWA project and bridging the knowledge gap. This positive wide reception of the Fertigation Bible provides evidence that there was a gap of knowledge beyond Europe. The book downloaded more than 1500 times. To ensure that the Fertigation Bible will be available after the end of the project, certain consortium members are hosting it on their websites.
In the T4.3 3 business models developed to investigate the market potential of OA’s Sodium Removal Unit (SRU), Water Future’s Electrodialyses and the IrriX decision support system.
WP6 in collaboration with WP5 organised showcase events at the location of the exchanged technologies. Forty showcase events were organised and attended by 1 231 growers and advisors, as well as policymakers etc.

Through our dissemination activities (103 press articles,201 events, etc) we reached more than 100 000 people.
FERTINNOWA successfully managed to raise awareness and implement changes on different levels. We brought together all actors in the horticulture industry allows identifying measures to overcome the barriers that delay the adoption of research results by end-users.
1. Impact in growers, produce organisations and advisors
FERTINNOWA succeed to bridge the knowledge gap through several of the project outcomes. The Fertigation Bible is a major deliverable of the FERTINNOWA project and bridging the knowledge gap. The reference document can be downloaded free on our website. This positive wide reception of the Fertigation Bible provides evidence that there was a gap of knowledge beyond Europe.
WP6 and WP5 organised showcase events at the location of the exchanged technologies. As it was expected in the proposal the showcase events could help growers to uptake innovative technologies quicker and easier. These events had a big impact as several growers either implemented some of the technologies on their farm or they showed an interested to do so in the near future.
2. Technology providers
FERTINNOWA interacted with technology providers in various ways. We acted as a platform to bring together technology providers and end-users on several occasions as described below.
In the T4.3 three business models were developed to investigate in detail the market potential of OA’s Sodium Removal Unit (SRU), Water Future’s Electrodialyses and the potential of the IrriX decision support system. Except of the technologies showcased on the WP5 other technology providers contacted FERTINNOWA members to discuss their technologies. Moreover, several technology markets were organised, offering technology providers the possibility to present their innovative technologies to the broader horticultural industry.
3. Research community
The information flow between academia and practitioners in agriculture was improved by using a bottom-up approach in which the needs for further research on particular areas were identified. In the framework of T4.2 a series of new technologies were scouted for their potential to solve remaining gaps identified in T4.1. A broad range of technologies was identified. Most of these technologies still require further research and demonstration before the technologies can be applied in the fertigated sector. Further research and demonstration initiatives are required to support this technology transfer.
4. Policymakers
Barriers for the adoption of innovating technologies are not only related to economic reasons but as well and to the political strategies that varying noteworthy throughout Europe. Differences were mainly perceived between North-Western and South-Eastern Europe also reflected by societal demands and interests. The role of the European Union and its political decisions were considered essential for the future development of sustainable horticulture. Public authorities and/or bodies are called to play a role through different approaches. The consortium members interacted with the policymakers at different levels and tried to inform decisions whenever the opportunity aroused.
5. Social impact
The social-economic dimension was also studied, by carrying out a thorough description of end-users needs, while identifying the factors obstructing acceptance of innovative technologies, allowing end-users to directly assess the technologies in the metaknowledge database for a greater user acceptance of them. However, our findings suggest that face to face interactions and hands-on demonstrations would encourage easier the adoption of innovative technologies.
Growers and advisors demand more empirical based evidence about the economic benefits of using such technologies in yield performance and on a more efficient use of inputs. For such evidence to be successful in engaging farmers the community would welcome more in-field evidence and demonstration. FERTINNOWA facilitate this through the WP5 and WP6 demonstrations.
Demonstrating sensors during the showcase event
An overview of the areas that described in the Fertigation Bible
Technology market during the final conference
Workshop on technologies exchanged on irrigation and nutrient management on soil grown crops