February 15, 2024

FlexiGroBots – data sharing in agriculture

FlexiGroBots sounds a bit like the name of a computer game, while it actually is something more serious: an EU project to expand the use of robots and data spaces in agriculture. Digital technology redefines how food is cultivated – making is more sustainable, better and less expensive. It is a tool for agriculture to find new ways of intelligent automation for farmers around the world.

What can data spaces do for agriculture? Anil Turkmayali, Senior Project Manager at IDSA explains, “Agriculture is no different from other industry: it uses data, various types of data, to conduct the farming operations in a more optimized way,” meaning there is an enormous economic potential.

Data space realization in Finland, Spain, Lithuania, and Serbia

For validating the solutions developed within FlexiGroBots, three real-life pilots of significant economic value have been defined: cultivation of grapevines in Spain, blueberries in Lithuania and Serbia and rapeseed in Finland. The aim is to support field management by establishing a seamless data flow from sowing to growth monitoring and harvesting. The project leverages AI and Big Data. Coordinated by the research company ATOS, the FlexiGroBots consortium comprises 16 partners. Its data space is based on International Data Spaces (IDS) technology with data interfaces for sensors, robots, and drones. VTT, a company that is also IDSA’s hub facilitator in Finland, provided IDS-based connectors to realize the project.

In this European research project, agricultural work becomes more resource-efficient and cost-effective by integrating data from various sources into a data space. Farmers can use the data to make qualified and informed decisions to achieve higher yields and better crop quality. But who collects data and how?

Robots as farmer’s little helpers

Ground robots and drones inspect soil for early detection of pests, localize them precisely, and assess plant health and soil quality. As a result, it can be predicted which part of the farm is more susceptible to disease. Robots can then be sent out to spray pesticides in targeted areas. Additionally, they use autonomous, self-driving tractors which are collecting data from the soil. And a weather station adds climate information in the data space. “The Mission Control Center of the pilots is acting like the tower in an airport, and so they are collecting data, analyzing, and making assumptions based on that,” Anil points out.

This data space implementation shows how data sharing could be used for farming operations. Digital technologies can revolutionize agriculture – FlexiGroBots is at the forefront of this change. This is much better news than the launch of a new computer game!

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