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Disease management optimisation supporting traceability

To develop an integrated plant protection optimisation system for precision agriculture that combines meteorological data, readings of a novel pesticide application efficiency sensor and cloud computing.

Protecting crops, fruits and vegetables from diseases is a major challenge of agriculture worldwide. The most common form of protection is the frequent, preventive use of fungicides and pesticides; this solution however, is rather costly and ecologically harmful due to the usage of significantly more chemicals than necessary. Natural habitats and water reserves are suffering from the overuse of chemical substances and the EU year after year bans several pesticides and fungicides due to their carcinogenic effects. Spraying optimization is one way to achieve significant reduction in the usage of fungicides, ensuring a safer, more environmentally friendly production practice, while maintaining the overall quality of production. The aim of the project is to develop an integrated plant protection and optimization system for precision agriculture that combines meteorological data, readings of a novel pesticide application efficiency sensor and cloud computing to optimize the timing and quantity of fungicide applications. The project includes the research and development of a novel pesticide application efficiency sensor that indicates the pesticide coverage on the plant and seamlessly integrates with the decision support system to reduce environmental pressure and production costs. This sensor provides feedback on the efficiency of fungicide applications that can be incorporated in the disease forecast models as an “efficiency factor”. The new sensor will allow one to follow the amount of pesticide accumulating on the plant that can be compared with samples of fresh fruit analyzed for pesticide residues in laboratory using mass-spectrometry. The correlation of these two factors will be studied and in case of a relationship, both producers and consumers can be informed automatically on the quality of the product in terms of pesticide residues. The data taken from the pesticide application efficiency sensor will be linked to an intelligent field report system that enables the automatic collection of information on plant protection applications. Automatically recorded data will be available for producers for further elaboration in a cloud-based farm management system. The global trade of food and agricultural products requires more efficient food safety control systems, where a new way of ensuring trust in food safety is to foster direct links between the producer and the costumer. Take viticulture for instance; by linking the fungicide applications with a vineyard inventory database, the system will be capable of ensuring traceability from grapevine to bottle - for producers and consumers alike. The data relevant for consumers are linked to the bottle of wine produced by a QR code on the label that can be easily read by smartphones in the supermarket. This allows the consumer to trace the product back to the exact vineyard plot it originates from and access information such as: the decreased application of fungicides due to utilizing integrated pest management, the place of origin of the wine, or even the “amount of sunshine bottled” based on the sunny hours recorded by the monitoring station. This ensures full traceability of the production even years after harvest, by tracing each barrel in the cellar and bottle of wine produced back to the field where it started its journey as grapevine. The project includes a pilot in viticulture, therefore a major part of this proposal concentrates on viticulture as an example. However, with only slight modifications applied, the envisaged technology will be able to serve the needs of different horticultural or field crop production environments as well, contributing to a global multiplicative effect.
Acronym: 
VINTRACE
Project ID: 
7 610
Start date: 
01-01-2013
Project Duration: 
24months
Project costs: 
390 000.00€
Technological Area: 
Precision agriculture technology
Market Area: 
Viticulture and Fruit Tree Cultivation

Raising the productivity and competitiveness of European businesses through technology. Boosting national economies on the international market, and strengthening the basis for sustainable prosperity and employment.