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Collective Awareness PlatformS for Environmentally-sound Land management based on data technoLogies and Agrobiodiversity

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - CAPSELLA (Collective Awareness PlatformS for Environmentally-sound Land management based on data technoLogies and Agrobiodiversity)

Reporting period: 2017-01-01 to 2018-06-30

The mainstream, industrialised food production and agricultural systems make an undue use of external inputs and fertilizers and are thereby posing a serious threat to the environment and to biodiversity. Moreover, they are becoming increasingly unsustainable due to unacceptable levels of food waste in industrialized countries, to shrinking farmers’ incomes, and to increased loss of crop diversity. Citing UN Sustainable Development Goals: “Since the 1900s, some 75 per cent of crop diversity has been lost from farmers’ fields. Better use of agricultural biodiversity can contribute to more nutritious diets, enhanced livelihoods for farming communities and more resilient and sustainable farming systems.” Alternative systems with reduced use of external inputs have to be promoted, based on i) an optimised use of agricultural biodiversity, ecological processes and natural resources and on ii) improved food systems based e.g. on short supply chain quality food, where consumers play an active role in driving produce demand and consequently offer.
CAPSELLA addressed this challenge in two ways: (a) raising awareness on these issues especially within and among local communities (smallholders agriculture, biodiversity, food quality) but also with the broader European public, and (b) offering innovative ICT solutions that address needs and requirements coming from the communities. To achieve this, CAPSELLA used a combination of participatory bottom up data collection and top down data integration to develop solutions for two domains: agro-biodiversity and local food knowledge. The project (a) produced new datasets concerning regional agrobiodiversity, and (b) built upon and enhanced existing data sets on the agro-biodiversity and food domains. Based on these, the project developed 7 community-driven data powered ICT solutions, which have been tested by the communities engaged in the project and result in a number of prototype applications. Finally, our project had a strong societal and business sustainability focus by also including incubation activities that supported the creation of an agri-food startup.
The first-year work related to conceptualization and requirements collection provided in the second period of the project a basis for the CAPSELLA pilots and ensured the development of applications close to the community needs. The piloting activity has been an intense and long-lasting one for the project. Out of the three generic pilots initially described in the DoA, the CAPSELLA partners finally developed seven distinct pilots and related data-driven applications, responding to challenges and requests posed by the communities with which the project interacted. Information about the demonstrators can be found on the CAPSELLA website: All applications are openly available the related documentation and code is available at the CAPSELLA GitHub,
The development of the CAPSELLA data infrastructure has been based on the requirements raised by the pilots’ evolvement. It acts as the core infrastructure, supporting the pilots development and enriching the data catalogue portal with the CAPSELLA generated datasets stored into the infrastructure. It was a conscious decision to adopt a Black-box design: the CAPSELLA data management system is a domain, scheme and data agnostic infrastructure. It has therefore the ability to incorporate different data types and sources. It offers on-demand data processing and analytics services, integrating social media data and open datasets with user generated ones. Interoperability has been a key concern, that’s why it comes with built-in interoperability features, supporting various formats. It is an extensible and pluggable infrastructure to seamlessly allow the integration of new services and data types with the aim to support additional applications, ideas and communities if required. The authentication and authorization of the infrastructure has various openness and accessibility levels for the data, for satisfying the requirements of each pilot and its respective communities, and it includes increased security provisions.
The source code is available under EUPL license and can be found at the CAPSELLA GitHub:
In 30 months CAPSELLA unfolded a wealth of activities working in parallel on multiple levels:
(a) Technical: the CAPSELLA data infrastructure and the pilot demonstrators
(b) Community oriented: the community-driven design, the open and participatory innovation and the bottom-up approach of the pilots
(c) Business: the incubation and acceleration process, the support of startup creation
Taking a horizontal screenshot of the CAPSELLA work, one of its major contributions is the multilayered and inter-communities approach. CAPSELLA brought together farmer communities that are the epitome of the precision agriculture and smart farming, and others that implement only organic farming practices, farmers from Northern and Southern Europe. It was a major challenge for the project to bring these two worlds together. It can be, therefore, considered as a major success of our bottom up and participatory approach, that these communities did not only meet during joint events, but worked together. The two field pilots (precision farming/compost and soil health) have started discussing the cross-fertilization and the development towards a single application. A joint trial took place in December 2017 in the Netherlands, to check in practice the difficulties and opportunities of merging functionalities of both applications into a new, single one. This new application could not be developed in the lifetime of CAPSELLA, but there is a declared interest from all partners involved in these pilots to further pursuit this objective. This direction is also reflected in a research paper, that was jointly prepared and submitted to the IFSA Conference in July 2018.
In the food sector CAPSELLA developed probably the first open data-driven application that has been implemented in a major European city. The Public Food application developed together with the Cities of Milan and Asti connects city officers with their citizens, enhancing transparency in the food supply management and allowing for informed decision making. Through the combination of open, nutritional, health and social data, cities can have detailed information about each city area, and citizens can influence the policies and priorities in their neighborhood.
Summarising the CAPSELLA innovation and impact in figures, in the last two and a half years, CAPSELLA developed 1 technical platform, included in it almost 600 datasets, developed 3 scenarios, run 7 pilots and developed 7 applications, created 1 online map, run 1 incubation process, supported the creation of 1 start up, and had 1 nomination for the European Digital Skills Award.