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Agricolus DSS Report Summary

Project ID: 719968

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - Agricolus DSS (Agricolus Decision Support System)

Reporting period: 2016-03-01 to 2016-08-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

According to FAO study “Looking ahead in world food and agriculture: Perspectives to 2050” world population is expected to grow by over a third, or 2.3 billion people, between 2009 and 2050. Sustainably satisfying this hugely increased demand for crops and livestock will be an enormous task. By 2050, food production must increase by 70% to meet the increasing demand. The increasing food demand and the necessity to reduce the ecological footprint of food production represent a huge challenge for the Agrifood sector. In order to remain competitive, agricultural producers need rapid access to emerging technologies. In Europe, there is a low uptake of advanced ICT technology: only 0%-24 % of farmers in Europe use ICT in comparison to 20%-80% of US farmers and the result is inappropriate fertilization, plant damage, economic loss and unnecessary environmental impact. Everyday farmers need to take crucial decisions in order to face daily routine activities or unexpected events but often they do not have the right information. For instance, farmers do not know the land characteristics of their farm therefore, they apply fertilizers and crop control substances uniformly over fields, at certain times during the year. This leads to over-application in some places and under-application in others.
Farmers need instruments that help their decision about agricultural practices for saving input products (fertilizers, phytosanitary products, water), save money, and reduce environmental impacts in line with European standards. The project carried on by TeamDev regards the developing of a cloud application, Agricolus Decision Support System, available on web for desktop and mobile, that provides a precision farming system to support farmers and agronomists about decisions on agronomical practices:
• Reduce over-fertilization by 12- 22%
• Increase farm productivity by 5-10%
• Reduce farm cost up to 504 €/h per year that means 10.000 € per year of EU average farm
• Predict the rise and spread of pest through the NDVI analysis by 30%
• Reduce the water stress of the crops by 20 %
• Mitigate the carbon footprint of the crops by 15%
• Improve the quality of food production by reducing the use of pesticides and fertilizers
This application moves from a system for Precision Agriculture to a system for Decision Agriculture, to guide farmers to take the right decision at the right time.
It uses modern technologies, such as remote sensing by satellite or drone, geographic information systems (GIS), sensor for collect weather data, for collect useful information by crops. These data analysis allow to perform targeted treatments, more effective and more sustainable; are a support systems to increase a clear and correct perception of what has happened, what is happening and what will happen in the near future (Situational Awareness). This system can also be used in fields through mobile devices (smartphone or tablet). Agricolus integrates many functionalities about farm management and provides useful informations in graphs, maps and statistics: for example, maps with vegetation indices calculated by remote sensing, graphs with weather information and other elements supporting technicians and agronomists in plots analysis to ensure quality production. Farmers can better known plant health status, phenological phases, water needs, nutritional deficiencies, and can act promptly before crop’s status get worse.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

The starting point of the research was the European market analysis about holdings size, standard output of crops, and other indicators chosen for their significances on European agricultural market. This analysis allows to select three interesting crops and three countries in which test Agricolus platform for first. The crops chosen are wheat, olive grove and tobacco, that represent also three different kind of cultivation, arable, arboriculture and specialized intensive crop. From results obtained by tests in Italy, Agricolus will be adopted for monitoring also crops in Spain and Denmark, countries chosen for their interesting agricultural market and potentiality. TeamDev carries on pilot test on different farms, from multinational, to small farm and collects important feedback from farmers for improve functionalities and process. Beside this, TeamDev activate some strategic partnership for implement Agricolus functionalities, to diffuse Agricolus platform in countries different from Italy, and receive feedbacks and suggestions to improve platform's features. For example, was signed partnership agreements with international IoT company providing weather service and satellite imagery service, or with scientific partners: Agriculture University of Perugia, research centres in Italy and Germany. These scientific partners contribute to the study of farming operations, plant pathologies and forecast models for pest spread on crops. Teamdev works also on brand awareness promoting and disseminating Agricolus DSS through social networking channels (FB, Twitter and Linkedin), through content-sharing platforms (IPresslive) or presenting the platform during expositions, events and conference.
Agricolus DSS is a modular and expandable solution that provide enterprise features:
• Cloud based solution provided via web (multi-platform, no IT investments required, secure backup included)
• Mobile app to support agronomists and farmers directly on the field.
• Multi-user with multi-level access (Company / Agronomic expert/ Farmer)
• Multi-language user interface
• Sensor hardware independent with different sensors' suppliers.
• Historical data management (weather, production, alerts)
• Can integrate Remote Sensing features, through images detected by satellite, UAV, aircraft, providing multispectral analysis for estimated yield and other purposes.
• Field layout import (we can import also the already present pushpins provided by the customer)
The functionality developed are: crops and farms information achieve, determination of field fertility and field area, analysis of field variability and delineation of area for variable rate fertilization, variable rate seeding and site specific application of pesticides, guide for soil sampling points, weather monitoring, forecast of crop disease, prescription maps.
For this objective Agricolus DSS is designed as an Open API solution: the Application Programming Interface, that allows third-party developers to write solutions interacting with Agricolus DSS, is publicly available and fully documented for all developers to access. It’s designed to acquire large data quantities (big data) provided by external, heterogeneous sources. Agricolus DSS uses the spatial components of ESRI (Environmental Systems Research Institute), the world leader in Geographic Information Systems. In fact, a significant part of system data is arranged on a geographical base for store, analyze, search, share, visualize, inquire and update information. Very important is the integration with IoT weather sensor installed on fields and with images detected by remote sensing.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

"Agricolus DSS platform is currently used from farms, association of farms, local government and mutinational agro-holding companies. Local Government uses Agricolus for monitoring crop’s diseases and generate alert for supporting farmers about performing treatments on time. Associations of farmers uses Agricolus for pest monitoring in olive grove: it informs farmers about infestation degree and treatments to perform. They use Agricolus DSS specifically for monitoring the insect called “Olive fruit fly” that attack olives and due product losses and low oil quality. In the past years, this pathogen determined big losses for farms, so farmers need a solution for monitoring and intervening on time. Agro holding multinationals uses Agricolus for pest monitoring and control (evaluating infestation degree, planning treatments) and for yield estimation. Other big, medium and small farms use Agricolus for different functionalities: supported about farm management, in particular for differentiated fertilization, for achieve information about fields, for map grape and olive varieties in fields, for identify differentiate management zone useful for farming operation like differentiated harvest.
In the next months other functionalities will be implemented, according to the farmer’s needs; furthermore Agricolus will be used for monitoring crops in other countries than Italy.
The brand awareness activity has been useful for publicize the platform in various country and actually TeamDev received many contacts and demands from farmers and from companies producing sensors.
Must ferment and interest there is actually around precision farming technologies for improve agricultural management and Agricolus DSS is placed in this sector.
The precision agriculture is spreading in Europe, especially for its benefits in terms of reduction of environmental impacts. On the official website for access to European Union legislation ( "precision farming" is often linked to sustainable agricultural practice, to resource protection policies and to safeguards of water. From January 1, 2014 came into force for all Member States of the European Union the new directive on the sustainable use of pesticides in agriculture. This directive is aimed at introducing a more conscious and moderate use of pesticides. To achieve this purpose, it is necessary to introduce in-field monitoring systems to determine timing and mode of action. According to the report "Precision Farming Market by Technology (GPS / GNSS, GIS, Remote Sensing & VRT), Components (Automation & Control, Sensors, FMS), Applications (Yield Monitoring, VRA, Mapping, Soil Monitoring, scouting), Global Forecast & analysis (2013 - 2018)" of M&M ( the growth in the sector for the 2013-2018 period will be increased to reach 3.72 billion dollars by 2018, with a CAGR (Compounded Annual growth Rate) of the estimated 13.36%. According to “AgTech Investing Report for 2015”, compiled by AgFunder from CrunchBase data, SEC filings, and interactions with hundreds of entrepreneurs and investors throughout the year, investment in food and agriculture technology startups reached a massive $4.6 billion in 2015, nearly doubling 2014 levels ($2.36bn).
This surpassed each previous projection, with a 94 percent year over year growth for 2015 that is greater than the 44 percent growth seen in the general VC market in 2015, according to the Venture Pulse Report. Some of the categories that drove growth during the year were precision agriculture, irrigation & water technology and food e-commerce."

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