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Modelling and Imaging Development for precision Agriculture

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - MIDA (Modelling and Imaging Development for precision Agriculture)

Reporting period: 2017-06-01 to 2017-11-30

M.I.D.A. provides a reliable methodology to support the forecast of pathogens infection risk in permanent crops agriculture, such as apple and fruits orchards or vineyards, while its application to non-permanent crops is being developed.
MIDA software permits to identify the probability of pathogens infection occurrence at single raw level, therefore preventing large pathogen outbreaks and avoiding the utilization of a large quantity of agrochemicals.
The benefits that derive by the large-scale application of MIDA are therefore accounted in terms of positive environmental impacts, operative costs savings, and by the lowering of infection risk.
The principle behind MIDA technology is the combination of historical weather data with aerial imagery provided by a UA system – drone, to obtain a forecast that is the output from of a heuristic analysis elaborated by an artificial intelligence algorithm. This method, developed by Metacortex, allows a highly reliable forecast of infection risk after a period of training for the specific area / crops to protect.
The broad market uptake of MIDA, such as other predictive technology for agriculture applications, will therefore result as a key factor to enhance the overall sustainability of food supply chains, also reducing the exposure of consumers to chemical substances.
The project objectives aim therefore at scaling -up the current MIDA capabilities (e.g. extending the range of crops/pathogen recognition), enabling a large-scale adoption by introducing MIDA as a SAAS – Software As A Service, and creating a wide European distribution network.
During the phase-1 project, Metacortex had the opportunity to develop the necessary cornerstones for the forthcoming development activities by validating both technical and economic aspects.
Concerning the technical aspects, Metacortex provided a sound risk analysis to extrapolate the priorities of MIDA technical development and the most relevant functionalities to be implemented according to a costs / benefits approach. Further, the related business impacts have been accounted to permit the evaluation of most relevant new functionalities to be introduced in order to foster its market uptake.
Following this, the technical implementation process has been designed considering the input / output flows, while different programming environments have been evaluated by Metacortex to permit the extension of functionalities such as demanded by the market. At the same time, the different data sources contributing to MIDA model have been organized and evaluated. In particular, for what concerns the input, Metacortex evaluated the possible integration of different input devices (hardware) to obtain a more complete set of data and metadata for the analysis performed by MIDA software. Possible integration of advanced devices such as Laser scanner and hyperspectral sensing systems has been also evaluated. In addition, Metacortex provided an analysis of the scientific literature (peer review) to identify which crop species could be effectively surveyed by MIDA. During the assessment, Metacortex also identified the optimal cloud computing infrastructure to ensure the delivery at largest scale and enough computing power for the predictive models.
The technical feasibility was completed by assessing the patentable outcomes, the continuous implementation strategy and the list of potential partners network.
After completion of the technical feasibility, Metacortex assessed the economic feasibility of the entire project considering its market uptake in a 5-year timeframe. This study started since a preliminary SWOT analysis, supported by a detailed market analysis concerning the permanent crops production in EU and a costs analysis related to the OPEX of agricultural productions. The results supported the elaboration of a sound pricing and a series of P&L projections accounting each identified market segment.
The feasibility study was further accompanied by a sound regulatory framework analysis, also considering the operation with U.A. in different European countries and the possible forthcoming change in regulatory landscape. During the Phase-1 project, Metacortex has also started a series of activities aimed at disseminating the benefits offered by the large-scale use of M.I.D.A and also fostered the attendance to events and congresses. The M.I.D.A project further received a remarkable coverage by local and national press highlighting the relevance of the project for the development of a sustainable agriculture.
MIDA overcomes a series of limitation that are typical of the current remote system technologies applied to agricultural survey. The current limitations are linked to the scarce prognostic capabilities of technologies like NDVI which recognize the pathogen occurrence only after the outbreaks.
The capability of providing a reliable forecast can therefore determine major impacts in terms of environmental sustainability and economics. These positive impacts are related to the capability of MIDA of reducing the amounts of agrochemicals needed to treat a crop field thus decreasing the environmental exposure of entire geographical areas. The prognostic capability of the system determines further the possibility of “preventing” diseases instead “curing” them. The immediate application of such capability will result in a reinforcement of the agricultural supply chain due to the avoidance of major pathogen outbreaks risk.
Consumers will be positively impressed at the same time by high-quality production and by the lowering of agrochemical uses.
MIDA represents therefore a technological platform suitable for further implementation which can be delivered almost everywhere at European and global level, thanks to the support of a cloud infrastructure and SAAS model.
Excample of remote sensing by MIDA