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AGINFRA PLUS Report Summary

Project ID: 731001
Funded under: H2020-EU.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - AGINFRA PLUS (Accelerating user-driven e-infrastructure innovation in Food Agriculture)

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

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

The variety of stakeholders that are involved in scientific activities that address major societal challenges around agriculture, food and the environment is enormous. They range from researchers working across geographical areas and scientific domains, to policy makers designing development and innovation interventions. These activities have been traditionally informed and powered by a combination of quite heterogeneous data sources and formats, as well as several research infrastructures and facilities, at a local, national, and regional level.

The emergence of the open access and data policies has brought forward new challenges and opportunities which have to be addressed and supported by future e-infrastructure services and environments. In addition to this, a clear link between societal challenges and openness as a European priority has been set, positioning these challenges across the three dimensions of Open Science, Open Innovation and Openness to the World.

AGINFRA+ addresses the challenge of supporting user-driven design and prototyping of innovative e-infrastructure services and applications. It particularly tries to meet the needs of the scientific and technological communities that work on the multi-disciplinary and multi-domain problems related to agriculture and food. It will use, adapt and evolve existing open e-infrastructure resources and services, in order to demonstrate how fast prototyping and development of innovative data and computing-intensive applications can take place.

AGINFRA+ particularly aims to demonstrate how core e-infrastructure services and resources may be used to support future science scenarios in agriculture and food. In this sense, AGINFRA+ aspires to be part of a wider strategy that the participating key stakeholders have agreed upon. In this context, it works in full complementarity to the INFRASUPP-3-2016 project “e-ROSA: Towards an e-infrastructure Roadmap for Open Science in Agriculture”. e-ROSA formulated the context in which the various scientific and infrastructure stakeholders in agri-food will come together in order to work together on a roadmap for the e-infrastructures of the next 10 years, in sync with the developments at a broader scale. As a next step, AGINFRA+ constitutes an ideal testbed for assessing the viability, effectiveness and sustainability of the e-ROSA set principles and respective roadmap.

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

In accordance with the project’s promise and the design of its work plan, AGINFRA+ is naturally organised over three major axes:

1. The involvement of scientific communities and the elicitation and analysis of their requirements;
2. The identification, testing and deployment of services and tools that will fulfill such requirements; and
3. The integration of the aforementioned services under a unified, collaborative environment.

These directions are clearly streamlined and, as a result, the implementation of the project follows a relatively linear direction (with intervening refresh cycles): firstly, members of the research communities are approached and informed on the project’s objectives and current outcomes, and their input is collected and analysed; the discovery, review and testing of tools follows; finally, the integration of the tools culminated the overall process.

During this first reporting period, most effort was devoted to the establishment of the AGINFRA+ community network, the requirements specification for these communities, and the identification of suitable technological solutions.
In more detail, the three work packages that mainly provide the AGINFRA+ services, i.e. WP2, WP3 and WP4, have dedicated significant effort and achieved corresponding progress on the identification of technological needs, the review of applicable and available solutions and the testing and assessment of the latter. Furthermore, the process of technical integration under the overarching VRE framework has been initialised in the context of WP3, with a substantial number of services integrated to a degree in the framework.

All technical work has been driven by the user involvement and requirements specifications produced in the context of the user community-centric work packages, i.e. WPs 5, 6 and 7. Work on these packages entailed the specification and - in the case of WP6 - creation of relevant resources and assets, the mobilisation of the wider research community on each field and the presentation of the project’s benefits on the collaborative research process.

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)

AGINFRA+ aims to showcase the power and potential of collaborative e-infrastructures for agri-food towards advancing the state-of-the-art in all three involved research communities, via the design and implementation of representative, concrete use cases. More specifically, progress beyond state of the art per research community is described below:

Agro-climatic and Economic Modelling Community: AGINFRA+ have made available to the community an integrated e-infrastructure (i.e. seamlessly interconnected data-infrastructures, grid computing infrastructures and cloud-based infrastructures), in order to facilitate the acquisition of long-term projections using climate ensembles from global and regional climate models. The effective handling of such volumes of input and output data via the organisation of large-scale integrations in collaborative e-infrastructures will be a great leap forward for the involved research communities.

Food Safety Risk Assessment Community: AGINFRA+ aims to cover the gap in free, easy-to-adapt software solutions that enables food safety professionals and authorities to exploit these data in a consistent manner applying state-of-the art data mining and modelling technologies. Moreover, the project have provided the means for achieving integrated, standardized data and knowledge management for the community, which are required to establish quality-controlled model repositories that can be used for risk assessment and decision support.

Food Security Community: AGINFRA+ have started building a realistic demonstrator for efficient plant phenotyping, an emerging science that links genomics with plant ecophysiology and agronomy. The Big Data Management strategy for organizing, annotating and storing phenotyping data entails the establishment of the tools for creating and managing standardisation mechanisms (definition and usage of ontologies, thesauri, vocabularies), discovering and sharing data, workflows and experimental results, publishing experiments at their full-scale, etc.

As a natural reflection of the advancements provided to all three AGINFRA+ research communities, the results of the project are expected to have profound socio-economic impact as the three domains are directly related to important societal challenges. Facilitating and speeding up data analysis and knowledge exchange leads to a better understanding and subsequently, better management of challenges related to agricultural production, resource management and sustainability, food safety and crisis management, food and nutrition sufficiency at local and global scales

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