Agricultural research and innovation supports the sector in coping with a complex mix of challenges it is facing, including for example the pressures on natural resources and farm revenues. Knowledge creation and accessible information systems and tools to monitor, gather, transform and above all share vital information between key stakeholders can help the sector to become more sustainable. However, as well as the potential for new knowledge, a substantial part of the existing knowledge and its underpinning information flows, has yet to be exploited to its full potential. The resulting performance gap has strong social, ecological and economic implications. An improved functioning of the agricultural knowledge and innovation systems is needed, for timely innovation and to speed up the rate of knowledge creation. One of the most important constraints concerns the limited interoperability and lack of openness of different technical systems, thus limiting the choices farmers can make between suppliers of new technologies. An enhanced interoperability would allow for increased data sharing and the resulting knowledge generation. Another main constraint is the lack of information on the effectiveness of new technologies which slows down their take up.
Pilots should address all of the below aspects:
- Building platforms integrating different technologies like Internet of Things (IoT) devices, cloud, photonics, networks, geolocalisation (including through Galileo and EGNOS (the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service)) and robotics combined with applications based on data analytics and knowledge management. There is a need for a wide adoption of open, interoperable standards to ensure that all connected systems can talk to each other, allowing the farmers and relevant other stakeholders to pick and choose the most appropriate combination of tools from different suppliers. Pilots will validate the means to achieve high level of interoperability of different systems through reference architecture, semantics technologies and standardisation framework that demonstrate communication exchange of data across different systems and platforms.
- Sharing data and generating knowledge via capturing and translating more and precise information. High precision data capturing and a high degree of data sharing should serve as basis for decision support systems delivering tailored advice at farm level, complementing and/or extending advisory services. The core technical enablers for analysing the amounts of data will be low-maintenance, robust and scalable monitoring and communication systems as well as artificial intelligence and semantics technologies. These services should include direct and detailed feedback to the farmers on appropriate practices and management strategies.
- Developing decision support systems that will include, but are not restricted to, a benchmarking system on the productivity and sustainability performance of farms, services, technologies and practices. For this purpose data models and semantic standards need to be defined to elicit performance indicators and derive decision making, as well as allowing sharing the data from the different farms.
Pilots in the selected areas should clearly cover the supply and demand sides. For large-scale piloting and ecosystem building, projects in this topic may involve financial support to third parties to extend the digital innovation space for farmers, advisory services and innovators, based on a network of farms and in close cooperation with existing agricultural knowledge and innovation infrastructures of the different Member States and Associated Countries and regions. For farmers, the platforms should have a mass-tailored advisory and knowledge dissemination service, including economic and technical benchmarking. It shall cover a large number of farms, including small farms. Advisory services based on local eco-systems should be investigated and linked in the pilots. For innovators, the platforms should work as test-bed, testing and benchmarking new technologies and services. This should be made possible by allowing for recruiting pilot farms and/or making available the necessary data.
Proposals should fall under the concept of multi-actor approach and allow for strong involvement of the farming sector in the proposed activities. Projects are required to develop adequate data governance model(s) defining the terms for access to data owned by another party. Activities should allow for a wide geographic coverage within Europe. In addition, proposals shall cover at least three sub-sectors (e.g. arable crops, livestock, vegetable and fruit production).
For this topic, the four activities and impact criteria described in the introductory section 'Platforms and Pilots' have to be applied. Pilot projects are expected to contribute to the consolidation and coherence work that will be implemented by the CSA supporting the activities defined under the topic "DT-ICT-13-2019: Digital Platforms/Pilots Horizontal Activities".
The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU up to EUR 15 million would allow the areas to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.
- Demonstrate measureable benefits from intensified data and information flows across a wide range of farm types, notably small farms;
- Improved and inclusive information flows and management within and among the targeted agricultural sectors based on transparent and fair data governance practices;
- Identification of user needs, validation of user acceptance, especially demonstration of viable concepts addressing privacy, security, vulnerability, liability and trust in connected data spaces;
- More information on environmental, social and economic performance of technologies, practices and management, increasing their respective adoption;
- Creation of opportunities for entrepreneurs by promoting new market openings, providing access to valuable datasets and direct interactions with users, expanding local businesses to European scale;
- Exploration and validation of new industry and business processes and innovative business models validated in the context of the pilots.
Illustration Photo: Navtronics guidance system helps farm-tractor drivers to do their work with an accuracy that far exceeds manual steering. This results in a better use of available land and higher productivity from human and machine. By ‘automating’ farm machinery, even unskilled drivers can achieve near-perfect results. Copyright Navtronics BVBA