Innovation in action:

For the use case Chain Integrated Greenhouse Production, led by the Automatic Control, Robotics and Mechatronics group at the University of Almería, co-production, user testing and feedback is crucial. We are fortunate to have the association of organization of F&V producers (COEXPHAL) and the COEXPHAL-UAL Chair in Horticulture, Cooperative Studies and Sustainable Development as partners in our UC4.2. This gives us broad access to excellent growers and greenhouses, as well as other businesses along the value chain. Often people don’t realize what effort goes into developing a solution in a use case. It involves many activities. Clear is the fact that we are not scientists just sitting at our desks: we are out there.​​​​​​​

A typical week in our use case includes visiting the growers to understand their needs and problems in order to elicit feedback for improving our iVeg app. We suggest improvements in their installations, carry out maintenance of greenhouse sensors and install new sensors. During use case trials we found out that most inside weather stations do not work properly. Because of this the data they provide is not reliable enough to support decision making. We face a challenge that has no one-size-fits-all solution for the (extreme) conditions of the greenhouses in Almeria. So we had to test different products from different manufacturers to develop an approach and system that works. How? For example by designing and manufacturing technology protectors and low cost accessories for agrometeorological sensors.

A central activity of use case 4.2 is the technological development of the iVeg app. The app incorporates decision support systems devoted to irrigation optimization, crop growth estimation and diseases anticipation. Technology develops at a rapid pace and our technology chair is involved in a constant analysis of trending technologies, as well as what is going on with competitors and technological innovations.

The ultimate aim of IoF2020 is the uptake of IoT solutions in agriculture by providing innovative solutions. That’s why we organize Farm demos. We now do so in collaboration with the NEFERTITI FARM DEMOS project. We also organize courses, conferences and other dissemination events. Next to that we tell our story on local radio, TV and in newspapers and blogs. Bringing young farmers and scientists on board is also part of our work. We tutor students and young researchers in agri-tech developments. Our summer courses are very popular. This year the subject was Digitization in Agriculture, with the contributions of IoF2020 coordinator George Beers (WUR) and Grigoris Chatzikostas (BIOS). We would like to conclude that our UC 4.2 is a good example of ‘Innovation in Action’!

What did the UC 4.2 Team (Manuel Berenguel, Jorge Sánchez, Cynthia Giagnocavo, Manuel Muñoz) do?

Visits to participating growers to understand their needs, problems and to get feedback for improving the system. We also help them improve their installations, …

Maintenance and improvement of greenhouse installations, installation of new sensors, testing the solutions of different manufacturers, development of our own solutions, …

Technological development of the iVeg app incorporating decision support systems devoted to irrigation optimization, crop growth estimation and diseases anticipation.

Farm demos are an important part of increasing awareness of IoF and how digital tools can increase productivity and sustainability.

Organization of courses and dissemination events at conferences, and appearing on the radio, TV and in the press.