Super User

Ecodev workshop in agriculture

January 2016

The term of Farming Intelligence is introduced in Greece by Ecodevelopment. In cooperation with the companies Geosense and Agrostis it organised an event focusing on Farming Intelligence, Agriculture-Technology-Innovation on Friday 29 January 2016 within the context of Agrotica 2016. The companies that were present on the occasion at the stand 2 of the exhibition, presented a new concept for precision farming, which, as the President of Ecodevelopment Dr. Spiros Mourelatos noted, despite its rapid technological progress, has not yet been adopted by the producers either in Greece or abroad. At the moment there is a great amount of accessible and of high resolution analysis information for use in precision farming that it does not represent in adopting respective applications. This is due to the fact that the agricultural practice which so far it is called Precision Farming “treated” by many scientific and technological fields that are necessary for the collection, processing, mapping, transmission and application of the information to the farming land. Though the result is for the time being that this information is being applied fragmentary through products or/and services which are not directly viable, to the extent that there is not an integrated concept-strategy which incorporates all these scientific and technological fields under the umbrella the production of one accessible and integrated product for the farmer operator-producer.

«Intelligence in Agriculture means that one is able to obtain and process data in order to turn them into knowledge which keep and apply to a changing rural environment » Dr. George Iatrou, CEO of Ecodevelopment noted in his presentation of the «Remote Sensing Application in Agriculture, with olive groves and vineyards». The introduction of precision farming methods in Greece with the small farming lands and the adoption of them by the Greek producers is for us a great challenge. In our country where there is water shortage and soil heterogeneity they are produced high added-value agricultural products as fruits, vegetables, grape and olive. Reliable indicators of plant water stress and phytopathological stress, maps of natural-phenological parameters and maps of spatial input control at the farming land can distribute both to saving resources and quality and safety certification of these products. Though, the services and products of Farming Intelligence should be tailored to the needs of each cultivation variety even to the type of farming. The link that seems to be lacking is the contact with the producer and the evaluation of the real needs of its agricultural holding. ECODEVELOPMENT S.A taking full advantage of its operational and scientific experience is vigorously developing in the Aerial Farm Scanning & Scouting. By the use of contemporary unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and sensors of very high spatial and spectral analysis is capable of providing information for on time monitoring, diagnosis, anticipating and managing of cultivation: Orthophotomaps of very high resolution (from 2cm/pixel), surface model and earth model (DSM, DEM), Vegetation Index Maps (NDVI, CRI), farming land hot spots maps and natural parameters maps (sugars, carotenoids, stress), maps of quality-quantity characteristics (yield, vitality) and differentiated applications (soil fertilisation, harvest, VRT). Rapidly, repeatedly and in real time relating to the demands of cultivation. Our objective is to provide directly applicable services as this of the early detection and management of Verticillium of edible Olive or the management of the variability of ripening of wine Grapes. Simultaneously, it is developing methods of evaluation of the variability of ripening of fruits and vegetables and of differentiation of fertilisation in rice fields. Furthermore, the company is able to monitor and evaluate spectroscopic experimental arrangements in fields of assessment of hybrids and or/and plant protection products. The systematic aerial control and mapping of the cultivation lead to a systematic production of high quality. 

All the fields, scientific and technological that they could create a final product of “Farming Intelligence” usable and accessible to the Farmer-Producer-Operator, participated in the event.                                       

Dr. Christos Mourtziopoulos, the Director of quality assurance of Barbastathis ABEE (Industrial and Commercial S.A.) referred to the Possibilities and Perspectives of Farming Intelligence in Contract Farming, noting that the aim of Barbastathis ABEE for Best quality and Maximum safety of produced products in the context of Contract Farming. This is totally compatible with the practices of Precision Farming and it is required more investment in remote sensing technologies for the differentiated application of plant nutrition and protection with the view of the effective surveillance of quality assurance and products’ safety from sowing to harvest.       

Mr. Vasilis Polychronos (Geosense) focused on the role of unmanned aircrafts (Drones) in the applications of Precision Farming. «The drones at the service of agriculture are beyond the present and future perhaps one-way route ». He mentioned « we are able to show accurately to 3-4cm the natural environments and study hypsometry, bottom slopes, water catch /drainage basins, plant height, foliar volume, flowering, number of plants etc. Beyond visible spectrum, we can detect and study information relating to the most significant biochemical process on planet, the photosynthesis and consequently the health of the plans. The following day will bring drones which are spraying the cultivations precisely and particularly effectively where conventional means cannot operate».

Mr. Vaggelis Vasiliadis and Mr. Thanasis Sapounas (Agrostis) presented the farming and greenhouse cultivation management systems, ifarma and GreenSim respectively.  «Central role in collection, saving and processing of all data so as to be achieved the best use of resources and agricultural practices on the basis of both space and time variability of the cultivation, therefore in application of Precision Farming, plays the Farm Management Information Systems, i.e. the farming management systems» Mr. V. Vasiliadis noted. «The ifarma is such an integrated information system that offers potentials as: Farm features management, Data basis, Management, planning and recording of farming activities, Work programme standards, farming log books, Financial management. The main characteristic of ifarma is that it provides open communication architecture with services of Precision Farming, incorporating maps of variability and recommended actions by external services in function of farming management».

As it concerns the decision-making software for greenhouse cultivation GreenSim, Mr. Th. Sapounas mentioned that the investments in greenhouse cultivation are usually investments of high cost fixed-capital equipment. False decisions when designing greenhouse could lead to even more irreversible negative economic effects. GreenSim software opens up the opportunity to examine all the parameters of our investment so as to choose the appropriate greenhouse. It constitutes a calculation tool with which we can simulate the greenhouse environment for a whole year. GreenSim software is a unique calculation tool for maximising the return of an investment in greenhouse cultivation and it is already used successfully in elaboration of dedicated studies. At the same time, it is designed in such a way that could develop into commercial software.

Lastly, Dr. Zois Zartaloudis (AGROECOSYSTEM) referred to the detection mechanisms of the ripening stage and also stress through remote sensing instruments, but to the production of innovative bio-natural plant growth assistive products. «The translation of spectral characteristics of stress in field and its geographical mapping in apical vegetation (spectrum signature) is detected at specific wavelengths by air-borne vehicles. The multispectral cameras are able to distinguish indexes’ changes, as of carotenoids, for example the relevant increase of carotenoids during ripening process. Hence we can give answers to the following questions: How healthy my plants are? Or when should they be harvested? » In additional Mr. Zartaloudis referred to the innovative bionatural products BIOSHELL that “AgroEcoSystem” produces and are based on the creation of crystalline complexes with natural organic agents. «They succeed to manage plant protection problems which are hard to resolve such as verticillium in olive and esca disease of grapevine, they are nutrition balancers through physiological process of plants, they constitute natural potassium source, and at the same time they increase plant energy in a physicochemical way. »