Project No: 14308
1 Mar 2013 - 29 Feb 2016
Victor Alchanatis, Agricultural Research Organization (Israel)
Manuela Zude, Leibniz Institute for Agricultural Engineering (Germany)
Ismail BOGREKCI, Adnan Menderes University (Turkey)
Dominique Fleury, University of Applied Sciences: Western Switzerland (Switzerland)
Spyros Fountas, Agricultural University of Athens (Greece)
Simon Blackmore, Harper Adams University College (United Kingdom)
Alessandro Torricelli, Politecnico di Milano (Italy)
Soren Marcus Pedersen, University of Copenhagen (Denmark)
Bernd Sumpf, Ferdinand-Braun-Institut, Leibniz Institut f (Germany)
A number of technologies originating from ICT, has been successfully applied in agriculture. Nevertheless, sensor solutions have not been adopted into common agricultural practice. Two main gaps were identified, that this project is approaching to abridge:
1. Reliability - systems with insufficient reliability for everyday use in harsh conditions, and limited robustness of calibrations.
2. Usability - techniques were applied as isolated approaches without synergy of sensor data. In combination with the limited insight of the farmers with ICT, it limited their adoption.
USER proposes a conceptual framework and concrete applications for the farmer based on an innovative technical architecture, that demonstrates reliable Precision Agriculture solution. USER integrates canopy and fruit sensors with mobile vehicles and wireless sensor networks for providing spatial data for high value crops (vineyards and apple orchards). Solutions will be demonstrated to farmers and extension services.
The project had major achievements in three main areas: agronomy, technology and methodology. The major outcomes of the project can be implemented immediately in practice or/and may be used in future applied research:
- A reduction in irrigation increases pheophytin concentration in apple.
- Reduction of 50% in irrigation did not affect the yield weight, but fruits (apples) contained higher sugar content.
- The yield was maintained high, in spite the reduced of irrigation, due to collaboration with other teams and their sensors.
- Modification of a commercially available vehicle to an autonomous mobile platform, while preserving its original designs intact for common agricultural missions.
- Development of a safety system for autonomous tractors.
- Novel optical fruit sensors were tested for the first time in the orchards.
- An Android application was developed for manual data collection, as a complementary tool to support farm management information systems.
- Formalization of methodologies for calibration of fruit sensors.
- Professional standards of safety systems for autonomous tractors were developed.
- Data exchange and metadata protocols suitable for intensive cooperation of interdisciplinary teams.
The expected outcome of an integrated system that incorporates a number of sensing techniques and a web based FMIS that enables farmers to manage their crop was ended with demonstration of canopy - fruit sensor and FMIS. It expressed the potential of providing farmers quantitative information to decide upon the optimal harvest timing and irrigation, while fruit quality and the production remained effective.
Partners' comprehensive collaboration during field campaigns performed as project inter-workshop and led to integration and assimilation of sensor data into FMIS. Since a complete prototype using the converted tractor with the canopy and fruit sensors for optimal irrigation and harvest timing was not tested in the orchard, no external workshop was organized. The concept was presented to stakeholders while demonstration in the end of field trials in Switzerland, and through up development stages of the mobile platform in UK. Beside the web based FMIS, a web based data transfer was constructed for fast data sharing, USER-PA portal and the public project information was presented on USER-PA information website.