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Irrigation water saving by replacing the traditional irrigation system by an Adjusted Regulated Deficit Irrigation one

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - HydSOS (Irrigation water saving by replacing the traditional irrigation system by an Adjusted Regulated Deficit Irrigation one)

Reporting period: 2019-08-01 to 2020-01-31

Out of overall freshwater consumption, 70% is consumed in the agricultural processes and, furthermore, most irrigation systems are very inefficient (only 30 to 50% of the water distributed is taken up by the plant). Remaining is used in infrastructural pipelines and other miscellaneous works. Water demand will shoot up by 50% shortly and this fact cannot be vetoed away. The precision farming is the only option in which water usage can be optimized by employing integrated and smart irrigation systems. The lack of enough and continuous water resources to supply irrigation necessities in agriculture system; climate change effects and other secondary factors, such as crop diseases and loss of product quality, are currently most farmers’ pain point.

HydSOS is a breakthrough smart irrigation system to be implemented in olive trees and others similar crops under irrigation (almond, under study). This system is integrated by three key elements: 1) a Regulated Deficit Irrigation (RDI) protocol specifically designed for the crop’s characteristics and needs; 2) a new sensor able to monitor online the water vascular flow in the tree trunk; and 3) an on-line Smart Irrigation Management Platform. Till date, Galpagro company, thanks to its two-year R&D effort, has developed HydSOS up to TRL6 (RDI protocol for olive trees developed and tested), and our goal is to complete the system until taking it into the market. We are currently working with our R&D partner, IRC Automatización, in the development of the sensor and the Management Platform.

Galpagro is a family-owned company, innovating in agriculture for over 23 years. We have grown over the years by incorporating different lines of business. Currently, our main activities are agricultural technical advice, consulting/management of certification processes, agro-treatments distribution and sales, and agricultural works. Our team gathers with 24 reputed professionals, including Ph.Ds. agronomists and agricultural technicians.
"Thanks to the grant awarded by the European Commission SME Instrument Phase 1, we have been able to carry out an in-depth analysis work to assess HydSOS’ feasibility. Most important activities developed during these 6 months can be summarised as follows:

(1) We have carried out a throughout market study, which has provided us with valuable information:
- Our actual market size related to our target segments can be quantified in more than 3.5M Ha (2.9M of olive and 0.6M of almond) to be managed as our Serviceable Obtainable Market;
- We have studied our customers’ preferences in order to enhance HydSOS’ functionalities, through meetings with current and potential customers in different sectorial events. Olive cooperatives’ representatives, agronomic consultants, agro-inputs companies’ staff and farmers have been consulted. According to their opinions, most important purchase-decision factors are easy-to-see and easy-to-use interface; improve of yields and efficiency. Most of them require effective and reliable results from HydSOS and reasonable prices to enhance their willingness to pay.
- In order to support our decision related to the sales scheme, within this Feasibility Study we have performed an analysis of the peculiarities of sales processes in the field of smart and precision irrigation systems, as these solutions require many different players to come together to develop and sell a complete solution to growers.

(2) We have performed a ""Freedom to operate"" (FTO) analysis. This has concluded that no current patented invention is a serious barrier to HydSOS.

(3) We have defined and assessed all the activities to reach the TRL9 stage.

(4) Finally, a complete Business Plan has been issued.

HydSOS has proven to be a to be a highly profitable business opportunity. However, it also presents a high acceptance risk that has to be mitigated by a large-scale validation. This validation and the pre-commercialization activities will be pursued through an Accelerator proposal in coming months."
At present and more so in the future, irrigated agriculture will take place under water scarcity. To cope with scarce supplies, deficit irrigation, defined as the application of water below full crop-water requirements (evapotranspiration), is an important tool to achieve the goal of reducing irrigation water use.

Galpagro’s innovation come first in the olive sector, which is a strategic agricultural sector of Mediterranean countries and is being affected by the climate change consequences. In the future, we aim to extend this system to other cultivars such as almond. HydSOS’ application will reduce water used for irrigation up to 30% and reduce energy consumption for water pumping up to 20%, while maintaining or even increasing crops’ yield. Additionally, HydSOS will positively affect the end product quality and plant health, due to the incrementation of phenolic compounds in olive tissues.

HydSOS line will create a business opportunity of accumulated turnover of €89M and a net profit of €27M in the five years after market introduction, reaching a market share of 10% in SOM terms. The project will achieve its pay-back in the second year of commercialisation.

Environmental impact: HydSOS project will have an important impact into the environment due to the reduction of water irrigation usage and incrementation of water efficiency, meanwhile reducing some others negative effects of the conventional irrigation, such as: waterlogging (soil becomes oversaturated with water), soil salinization (the salt content in soil increases above normal), and ecological damages.
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