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Intelligent Pollination for Sustainable Increases in Crop Yields and Global Food Security

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - iPollinate (Intelligent Pollination for Sustainable Increases in Crop Yields and Global Food Security)

Reporting period: 2023-01-01 to 2023-12-31

About 75% of the world's food crops rely on insect pollination (mainly bees); the pollination services they provide are a vital input for world food production and nutritional security. Yet, whilst other agricultural inputs such as irrigation, pest and weed control and soil nutrition are highly regulated practices, crop pollination is subject to little or no direct management and is provided almost entirely as an ecosystem service, which reduces the stability of productivity and capacity for production improvement.
This project will bring to market a unique IoT sensor application that will provide real time monitoring of the foraging rate of honeybee colonies used for pollination services. This information will be correlated with hive strength and health data using sophisticated machine learning algorithms to provide a precision pollination service enabling farmers to optimise pollination efficiency and crop yields. Our aim is to enable sustainable increases in crop yields of 30% through improved management of pollination services.
We have an industrial consortium of 3 independent SMEs from three different countries with complementary expertise and knowledge:
• IRIDEON (Spain): IoT applications, electronics and software development, prototyping and contract manufacture
• CANETIS (Italy): Development of tools and systems for analysing bee health and behaviour
• BEE HERO (Israel): Smart pollination services for crop growers.
Our business objectives are to:
• Build a global business providing pollination intelligence services to crop growers across 5 continents
• Generate annual sales of 10million euros through provision of pollination data services
• Create new high-level jobs in IoT and data analytics
• Stimulate additional investment in further R&D
IRIDEON owns the IP of the IoT hardware, firmware and software (IoT server, API, in-hive sensor node and gateway). IRIDEON and CANETIS share in equal parts the IP on the bee foraging sensor, and accessory systems (scales and weather station).
BEEHERO plays the role of the business developer, integrating the iPOLLINATE system in their own proven Pollination as a Service business model, bringing their customer and stakeholder networks as initial commercial routes.
The overall objectives of the Project are:
1. Advanced design and testing of the new Pollination Sensor to collect bee foraging data
2. Integration with Bee Hero system and development of new pollination metrics
3. Design and test User Interface features for effective presentation of foraging and pollination data
4. Field trials to demonstrate performance of the system
5. Deliver iPOLLINATE onto the market and into society
IRIDEON supervised all aspects of the financial and technical management of the project. The coordinator oversaw that all objectives and milestones were met, and all deliverables submitted according to contract. Periodical meetings enabled an effective supervision of progress, risk management, corrective actions and impact on project timings.
The partners executed the customer development plan that was set in motion since RP1. Following this plan, all partners executed dissemination and communication action all over Europe and USA. BEEHERO, as the leader of commercialization activities, concentrated their efforts on reaching industry stakeholders and potential clients of iPOLLINATE. A final Business Plan was created, describing the exploitation road-map to support the go-to-market and all relevant critical market parameters.
CANETIS and IRIDEON designed and produced the first batch of the advanced design (TRL8) of the optoelectronic sensor prototypes, adapted to the hive pathway. Prototypes were successfully tested in beehives. IRIDEON concluded its work on the electronics of the final IoT hardware to be further optimized for production, together with the architecture of the back-end IoT server, database and API. The GUI and UX of the Pollination as a Service platform was designed by BEEHERO. The prototype was used in pilots with end-users in several countries in Europe, in Israel and the USA, following the demo and trial plan designed by the consortium.
Progress beyond the state of the art brought in by iPOLLINATE :
• Provides real-time foraging and hive strength data enabling beekeepers to manage their colonies to maximise pollination efficiency.
• Enables crop farmers to optimise their use of pollination services.
• Enables governments and regulatory authorities to develop better informed agricultural policies.
• Utilises low cost sensors and components and is designed for volume production with minimal power and data requirements.
• Provides accurate bee foraging data, taking into consideration bee behaviour.

Selling points of iPOLLINATE:
• Beekeepers: Data to help build strong healthy colonies for pollination services.
• Crop growers: Real time measures of pollination quality to optimise hive deployment and crop yield.
• Crop Protection Companies: Data to support development of products that minimise impact on bee health.
• Governments and NGOs: Pollination data to support agricultural and environmental policymaking.
• Food distributors and processors: Crop yield forecasts, stability of supply and prices.

Updated expected potential impacts of iPOLLINATE:
• Eliminate costs of manual hive assessments prior to pollination;
• Reduce number of honeybee colonies required to pollinate crops by 30% due to increased efficiencies;
• Prevent disruption of agricultural products whose pollination is bee dependent.

• Protect the beekeeping sector and pollination;
• Help expand business opportunities for SMEs and support employment with the exploitation of iPOLLINATE;
• Contribute to the achievement of UN Sustainable Development Goals for food and nutrition security.

Advancement of science and technology
• Provide the first solution for real time measurement of honey bee foraging behaviour;
• Create world’s largest database in the field of bees and pollination;
• Contribute to advancement of science in the fields of bee health, pollination and agri-environmental research;

•Increase crop yields without destruction of ecosystems to make way for more arable farmland
• Help develop of crop protection products that minimise impact on foraging bees and other pollinators;
• Improved food nutritional value through better pollination;
Field trials of iPollinate system