A European Commission funded research study has examined sustainability of large scale intensive wheat farming and its impacts on the environment.
As intensive agriculture is associated with large-scale impacts on biodiversity, ecosystem services, food security and human health, it is important to shift to more sustainable, yet highly productive, farming practices.
The study assesses such practices in wheat, evaluating agricultural-management strategies at the field and landscape scales. The findings suggest that biodiversity-enhancing practices can support natural pest predation without use of agrochemicals — and that controlling pests and weeds by agrochemical means is less relevant than expected for final crop productivity.
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Set in the context of climate change, which is increasing the frequency and intensity of extreme events, causing production losses, damaging land and assets in agricultural sectors, and threatening livelihoods around the world. THE OECD has published a new report on “Building Agricultural Resilience”.
The latest OECD-FAO report proposes a new approach to building agricultural resilience to natural hazard-induced disasters, drawing from country case studies. To address the looming threat of climate change to agriculture, the report finds that more good practices and policy actions are needed.
The report is available online in the OECD Library.
Advancing sustainable agriculture in Europe is possible, but to do so, technology uptake needs to rapidly increase and digital farming has be further developed.
Advanced technologies and innovative sensing along with improved information technologies have provided the potential for transformations in agricultural. The practices development of modern digital advances require an understanding of traditional agricultural methods and processes, which need to be revisited as the drive to greater sustainability increases.
Mobile technology already plays a big role in the controlling and monitoring of crop irrigation systems. With the right equipment, it is easy for a farmer to control his irrigation systems just from a phone, tablet or computer, instead of visiting each field. Moisture sensors on the other hand are able to relay information about the moisture levels present in the ground at certain depths in the soil. This flexibility allows for more precise use and control of water and other inputs like fertiliser that are usually applied by irrigation pivots.
Farming is expected to be revolutionised in the coming years including the use of self-driving tractors or robots that perform many of the time-consuming tasks that are currently being done by people. The main advantage of smaller and lighter machinery is that they reduce soil erosion while enhancing soil compactness. This highly increases yields per acre of a farm.
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Farming feeds all of us — yet in rural communities, farmers are under pressure from mounting climate volatility and limited access to modern tools like the internet. How can agriculture stay resilient and grow with the times?
Watch the interview with Beth Ford, CEO of the farming co-op Land O’Lakes, as she shares her plan to establish broadband as a basic right nationwide in the USA and talks through an exciting range of climate-friendly innovations aimed at making farmers more sustainable and profitable.
LIFE LiveAdapt is part of the LIFE programme of the European Union, in which a multidisciplinary team of entities from Spain, Portugal and France will identify and assess, for four years (2018-2022), solutions for the adaptation to climate change of extensive livestock production models in southern Europe.
Why this project?
The negative impacts that climate change is causing on the livestock sector, especially on extensive farms, are having a significant negative impact, that affects southern European regions more significantly.
Increased temperatures and lack of water, among other factors, cause situations of animal stress, and consequently the decrease in productivity and generation of overruns for producers. The scarcity and low water quality and the deterioration of pastures, due in part to frequent heat waves and soil erosion, that occurs due to increasingly frequent episodes of torrential rains, make this scenario even worse.
To address this situation, which is jeopardising the sustainability of extensive livestock production systems, the multidisciplinary team of this project has as its main objective the implementation of a strategy based on innovative technologies and practices that make possible the adaptation the sector to climate change.
Universidad de Córdoba (Cordinating entity)
PigCHAMP pro Europa
Associação para a Defesa do Património de Mértola (ADPM
Institut de l’Elevage (Idele)
More info: https://liveadapt.eu/en
The UAV Research Center (URC) at the Faculty of Bioscience engineering – est. 2019 – focuses on sensing technologies with drones through interdisciplinary collaboration. It undertakes research on the automation of drone flights, remote sensing using drones and data processing, with particular interest in precision agriculture and industrial inspection applications.
One of their recent projects deals with how to optimise the processing of thermal imagery taken with drones and influenced by changing meteorological conditions during the flight. A paper on this research is available at https://doi.org/10.3390/rs9050476
Figure: The effect of initial estimate of thermal image position on the image alignment of the agricultural dataset. The sparse point cloud is shown. (a) No initial image position; (b) GPS-based initial image position; (c) RGB image-based initial image position.
Top: Top view (nadir), middle and bottom: side views. The yellow markers indicate gaps in the data alignment, the red markers indicate errors in the image alignment. In the top views, dashed red lines indicate the position of the misaligned areas shown in the middle and bottom views. (source: https://doi.org/10.3390/rs9050476)
After a one-year break due to the pandemic, the Social Hackathon Umbria will celebrate its fifth anniversary with a major digital co-creation event focused on the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals and shared with Fertitecnica Colfiorito and FAO, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.
#SHU2021 foresees a four-day Hackathon, Workshops, Exhibitions and Laboratories, next 1-4 July 2020 in the beautiful setting of the Colfiorito Park, a protected natural area and example of many sustainable development practices of the Umbria Region.
At the same time as the training courses, we will launch a call for ideas on four thematic areas: #zerohunger, #zerowaste, #zeroimpact and #zeroignorance.
The call is open to local Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) including NGOs, non-profit associations, and any other type of public and private organisation (including informal groups of young people under 35 years of age) that works for or supports the third sector and the society in general. Applicants can propose any sort of digital solution that is relevant to their internal and/or external needs and that respects the following selection criteria:
- social relevance: is the digital project relevant to at least one of the challenges proposed by the Social Hackathon Umbria?
- local community impact: will the digital solution have an impact on the CSO development and/or on the quality of services provided to disadvantaged target groups?
- Social Hackademy adequacy: is the project idea in line with the skills and knowledge acquired during the #hackAD training? Is it possible to develop it during the 48 hours of Hackathon?
For each area, we will select the two most relevant ideas that can be developed by teams of up to 8 members led by an experienced team manager. During the 48 hours of the hackathon, teams will be able to create a pitch, prototype or product to present in front ofan international jury for the award of a digital prize with a commercial value of €100.
Deadline to apply is Friday 4 June 2021!
“The carbon footprint of digital technologies in the AgriTech and Precision Agriculture sectors”
The European Environment Agency warns that “Europe’s environment is at a tipping point”. This event examines the situation in the agriculture sector, sharing practices as well as issues and challenges being faced. In the context of the European Green Deal and the European Commission’s ambition to adopt an EU Action Plan Towards a Zero Pollution Ambition for air, water and soil in 2021.
The webinar will introduce the SEED project which has created new qualifications and curricula incorporating digital farming and the tools and technologies for more sustainable practices. A panel of experts, that have implemented research or innovative practices in order to assess, monitor and reduce the energetic impact of digital transformation in agriculture, will present their work and discuss the zero pollution goals.
Innovation project technician
@ Innogestiona Ambiental (Spain)
The LiveAdapt Project: solutions for adaptation
to climate change of extensive livestock production
Digital innovation centre & its contribution
to climate change & zero pollution
Head of Sustainability @ Ecoinside
Sustainability in the agriculture sector
7th June 2021
11.00 AM CET
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted just how susceptible countries are to turmoil in the global food supply. Small countries like Singapore have restricted space for agricultural development. One solution is to create vertical farming hubs. Vertical farming is the practice of growing crops in vertically stacked layers. It often incorporates controlled-environment precision agriculture, which aims to optimise plant growth, and incorporate soilless farming techniques such as hydroponics, aquaponics, and aeroponics. Find out more
Due to lack of space, the Singapore government has designated rooftops as agricultural spaces in the public interest. In 2020, the rooftops of nine multi-story car parks in public housing estates were made available for farming for instance. Now, one of Singapore’s oldest industrial estates, will be redeveloped in a phased manner into an agri-tech innovation hub.
In Europe urban farms have also been developed that involves the adoption of various emerging tech trends including robotics to make agriculture more productive, profitable and sustainable. With this advancement, it is possible to grow and deliver high-quality food with the minimal waste within an area of a smaller footprint.
Find out more about the revolutionary practices being used in Europe
Partners in the SEED Project have developed and finalised the curriculum content for the Joint Qualification in Digital Farming. The results have been validated with national focus-groups and through international peer-review events. They are now published and available as a brand-new Curriculum mapped both on DigComp and EntreComp.
The curriculum can be used as a stand alone EQF5 qualifications profile in Digital Farming or as a modular and flexible VET course to update or integrate inside existing qualifications.
Download the curriculum below
Joint Curriculum in Digital Farming
Joint Curriculum (Dutch version)
Joint Curriculum (Slovak version)
Joint Curriculum (Spanish version)
The project for Smart Entrepreneurial Education and training in Digital farming – SEED – is drawing to a conclusion. Coordinated by UmbraFlor, the nursery of the Umbria Region, the project involves the Agricultural High school of Todi and the European Grants International Academy of Foligno, together with other partners from Spain, Belgium and Slovakia.
The initiative, which aims to develop skills and competences in the agricultural sector by introducing the concept of digital transformation, supports the development of a joint VET qualification (EQF 5) on digital agriculture.
A 100-hour training phase is scheduled to start in April, with the theoretical part taking place online and the practical part in the field at the Istituto Ciuffelli training centre. The participants have been selected among the last years’ agricultural expert graduates who have shown interest in a real opportunity for professional qualification.
The training activities will begin on 12 April with an online session; practical training sessions for small groups are then planned for 14-15-16-21-22-23 April. At the end of the month, four more online training days will be held: 26, 27, 28 and 29 April.
The lessons will continue in May with a further six days of practical training in the field (12, 13, 14 and 19, 20 and 21), to be followed by a final one at a later stage.
The training course has been developed on the basis of the Joint Curriculum developed by the project partners, as well as taking into account the new EASA / ENAC regulations that came into force in January 2021 and are still being implemented at national level, with the various modules preparatory to obtaining UAS/ENAC certificates.
The aim of the Smart Entrepreneurship Education and Training in Digital Agriculture – SEED project is to develop skills and competences and to support the preparation of a common qualification for digital agriculture.
The Slovak University of Agriculture in Nitra is organising a digital farming training course in May 2021 focused on the issue of digital technologies in agricultural and food production. The training course will consist of a theoretical part, which will take place online and a practical part, which will take place at VPP in Kolíňany. The course is open to students of the 1st degree of university studies and the unemployed with a completed secondary education in agriculture.
Further information on the planned training will be provided by the project guarantor prof. Ing. Zuzana Palková, PhD. ([email protected]).
Individual lessons will focus on the application of sensors in precision agriculture, control systems used in agriculture, big data and their use in agriculture and variable speed technologies.
The training course has been prepared on the basis of a joint study program developed by the SEED project partners, as well as taking into account the new EASA / ENAC regulations, which entered into force in January 2021 and are still being implemented at national level with various modules preparing for UAS / ENAC certification.
IGARSS 2021 Brussels (in cooperation with Ghent University) will organise a three-day summer school from 6 to 8 July 2021, prior to the IGARSS 2021 conference.
The summer school will be fully dedicated to drone based remote sensing and is conceived as a highly practical training event where teaching, demos, hands-on exercises and even a live campaign will be combined..
Submit applications by April 23, 2021 to participate and maybe you’ll receive one of the 20 spots to join in.
More information https://igarss2021.com/SummerSchoolProgram.asp
The European Commission announced the 2021 Forum for the Future of Agriculture (FFA) will take place in March, incorporating their annual conference on March 23rd in a virtual studio-based format.
The event will focus on ‘food system renewal’ recognising that the world must urgently deal with the implications of the Covid-19 crisis but also with the increasingly severe consequences of climate change.
With a critical role to play in the drive to sustainability, the FFA2021 will examine how the food system can and should renew in all aspects, as well as what will be needed to achieve this transition.
Under the direction of Forum Chairman and former EU Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnick, FFA2021 will bring together high-level speakers from the EU and across the globe.
Registration is free – find out more
Using huge amounts of data collected by all kinds of different sensors, Van den Borne potato farm manages to use the land more efficiently than most other potato farms. They know exactly which areas of soil need more nutrients, where pests are eating leaves, or which plants aren’t getting enough sunlight – and they are able to act accordingly. Van den Borne recently started their ‘own’ airport called Agri Drone Port Reusel to be able to legally fly the drones that they want to use for monitoring the approximately 450 ha farm.
The third-generation farm has become like a testing ground for technology that has been repurposed for use in agriculture. Because the company has become such an outspoken advocate for so-called precision farming, scientists and other agricultural innovators know who to reach out to when they have some cool idea they’d like to test.
Thanks to the sensors, and the stack of data analytics tools that are being used, the farmer can be exactly where he needs to be, when he needs to be there. And the best thing: He’s not afraid to share his knowledge. Jacob Van den Borne actually preaches the use of technology in agriculture – which is probably why some people call him ‘the pope of precision farming’!!
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The SEED Project addresses training and qualifications to counteract inefficient and ineffective farming practises. It provides a new and innovative approach to vocational training in agriculture and agribusiness areas.
The earth lost one-third of all arable land in the last 40 years, a 2016 study reported. Poor agricultural practices are eroding soil at a rate up to 100 times faster than it can re-form or recover. Meanwhile, demand for crops is skyrocketing—to feed an estimated 9 billion people by 2050, the world’s farms will need to yield an estimated 50 percent more food.
Soil erosion costs European countries €1.25 billion in annual agricultural productivity loss and €155 million in the gross domestic product (GDP) loss, the EU reports). Smart farming can help to turn the tide as it helps preventing abusing our valuable soil through better and more precise fertilising, irrigation and use much less pesticide, but still resulting in better production.
SEED is a response to the need to better understand how to. maintain soil quality and fertility. Examine the curriculum and qualifications framework.
SEED, the Smart Entrepreneurial Education and training in Digital Farming that develops skills in agriculture by introducing a digital transformation in the profession has been identified by the PRIMA Observatory on Innovation as an example of best practice. The Observatory was developed within the PRIMA Programme of the European Commission.
The Prima Observatory seeks to identify solutions that shape the future for better societies through research, innovation, education and best practices. It promotes new concrete solutions for our communities and enterprises and stimulates new partnerships among Euro Mediterranean researchers, innovators, businesses and stakeholders.
This think-tank recognises the value of the work being undertaken by SEED to establish competence model, curricula and qualifications for digital farming.
You can read more at the website here.
In Italy the platform Agricolus (www.agricolus.com) has been created as a Cloud platform to support and optimize the work of farmers and agricultural operators. It is available in Italian and English. A free login is available for testing.
Watch the video about it on https://vimeo.com/271083251
In Flanders similar products have been developed. One of them is Watch it grow (https://watchitgrow.be/en), a free precision farming web application developed for the entire Belgian arable sector and with a focus in the first instance on the potato sector. Processors, farmers, machine builders and agricultural research institutions participate in the application. A free login is available.
Watch the video about it on https://vimeo.com/345919366
We have consolidated a detailed list of over 200 courses relating to farming.
You can use our online tool to filter through the courses here
You can also download these as a PDF here..
Last week, the Association of Navarra’s Industry (AIN) present the SEED Project results in the Seminar “New skills for digital farming”. This seminar organized by the European Commission and the EIP-AGRI Service Point took place on the 5th and 6th February in Aranjuez.
The purpose of the seminar was to identify tools and approaches that can help the farming community develop the skills they need to fully benefit from the digital transition. The event also explored ways to stimulate the uptake of digital technologies.
Participants worked in discussion groups. The first day in the identification of skills and competences needed by farmers for digital farming and strategies to address the digital skills gap. On the second day, they discuss how CAP strategic plans can help to fill the gap in the farming sector, by simulating cooperation and explore different ways of connecting agricultural knowledge to innovation.
During the seminar, some successful initiatives that can raise and create awareness on digital skills in the farming community were shared.
Also, some speakers present innovative projects related to develop skills for farming digitalization. Among them, Sonia Mendoza from AIN presented the SEED Project and its main results.
For two summers in a row, Flanders had to deal with a very long dry season. The total shortage of precipitation is estimated as the equivalent of almost 1000 liters.
In the short term, the agricultural organizations are mainly concerned with recognizing the drought as an agricultural disaster, but they are already thinking about better armoring Flemish agriculture and horticulture against new periods of drought. These, together with other extreme weather phenomena, will inevitably occur as a result of climate change. Efficient agriculture must therefore focus more on effective water management.
Given the location, the desalination of seawater immediately catches the eye. “The North Sea is in our backyard, so during the initial consultation with the governor we suggested the idea of using seawater desalination projects.” A faster result can be expected from Aquafin’s offer to use purified waste water for the irrigation of fields. “We welcome this,” according to Algemeen Boeren Syndicaat, “on condition that the basic quality is guaranteed.”
The farmers’ syndicate also points to the substantial investments that the sector has already made in collecting rainwater and reusing process water. For example, rinsing water from milking installations is reused as drinking water for cattle. For the first wash of vegetables, the same water can be used several times and irrigation systems become particularly innovative, which is first noticeable on floriculture businesses.
A modern agriculture with apps and internet, use of drones, GIS and precision farming are key elements in this regard. And these are the core of the SEED project.
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Expert in Digital Farming Qualifications Design is now available to download.
It provides the qualifications structure and recommended units of study to be an expert in digital farming.
Download Here (PDF)