Smart agriculture for innovative vegetable crop protection
SmartProtect is a thematic network focusing on cross regional knowledge sharing of SMART IPM solutions for farmers and advisors. The aim is to stimulate knowledge flow in the regional AKISs (Agriculture Knowledge and Innovation Systems) across the EU and connect these on the innovative potential of advanced methodologies for Integrated Pest Management (IPM) in vegetable production, integrating precision farming technologies and data analytics.
SmartProtect is an EU funded project in the frame of the Horizon 2020 programme. The new European research project SmartProtect started in January 2020 and the first Kick off Meeting was held on 27-28 January 2020 in Brussels, Belgium.
Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
The horticulture sector in EU-27 accounts for about 13.7% of the agricultural output which is nevertheless only a small % of the total acreage (around 3%). The vegetable sector is thus characterized by a high added value and as a provider of easily accessible jobs. This is acknowledged in the Horticulture report of the European parliament from 14 March 2014. Like in other agricultural subsectors, farmers in horticulture face the challenge of responding to the mandatory implementation of the principles of integrated pest management (IPM) as called for by Directive 2009/128/EC on the sustainable use of pesticides.
IPM means careful consideration of all available plant protection methods and subsequent integration of appropriate measures that discourage the development of populations of harmful organisms and keep the use of plant protection products and other forms of intervention to levels that are economically and ecologically justified while minimizing risks to human health and the environment. IPM emphasizes the growth of healthy crops with the least possible disruption to agro-ecosystems and encourages natural pest control mechanisms (definition of the European Commission). IPM stands for a holistic approach to plant health management, based on prevention, monitoring and control.
Also, during recent years, an increasing worry about food safety, with high quality and environmentally friendly vegetable production, has been highlighted. The rational and limited use of pesticides for pest and disease control is prominent to achieve this objective. Basic objective of SmartProtect project is to fill the knowledge gap between research and practical management concerning innovation in IPM-methodology in different crops in open field crops and greenhouses.
Output of the project
SmartProtect proposes a methodology based on knowledge collection within 5 dedicated IPM subthemes, by collecting the existing scientific knowledge and best practices and translating this knowledge into easily understandable end-user material. SmartProtect will identify the needs of farmers and propose IPM methodologies to apply in daily practices in both open fields and greenhouses. SmartProtect will create an e-platform that will gather, share, manage and distribute knowledge on IPM.
The outputs of SmartProtect are expected to:
- Conserve practical knowledge for the long term
- Increase the flow of practical information and innovations between farmers
- Achieve greater user acceptance of collected solutions and a more intensive dissemination of existing knowledge
- Lead to the reduction of the pesticides used for the environment and contributing to food safety
The duration of the project will be 3 years and the project will be conducted in collaboration with 16 industrial and academic partners with a total budget of 2 million euro. The coordination of the project belongs to INAGRO (Research, Development and Advice center for Agriculture in the Province of West-Flanders).
The consortium of SmartProtect involves the following partners from different European countries: INAGRO (Belgium), The University of Warwick (WARWICK-United Kingdom), Estonian University of life science (EMU-Estonia), Univerza v Ljubljani (UL-Slovenia), Instituto Nacional de Investigaçao Agraria e Veterinaria (INIAV-Portugal), Vyzkumny Ustav Rostlinne Vyroby (VURV-Czech Republic), Julius Kuhn-Institut Bundesforschungsinstitut für Kulturpflanzen (JKI-Germany), Assemblee des Regions Europeennes fruitieres legumieres et horticoles (AREFLH-France), Fundacion Cajamar (CAJAMAR-Spain), Darzkopibas Instituts (LatHort-Latvia), Magyar Agrar-, Elelmiszergazdasagi es Videkfejlesztesi Kamar (NAK-Hungary), Grupo Hispatec Informatica Empresarial SA (HISPATEC-Spain), Agricultural & Environmental Solutions (AGENSO-Greece), Efos Informacijske Resitve DOO (EFOS-Slovenia), Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (KU LEUVEN-Belgium), The Agriculture and Horticulture development board (AHDB-United Kingdom).
The programme has received funding from the European Union and the Research & Innovation Programme Horizon 2020 (GA No. 862563).