Smart-AKIS Conference: Smart Farming in the future of EU’s agriculture

Smart-AKIS Conference: Smart Farming in the future of EU’s agriculture

Smart-AKIS Conference: Smart Farming in the future of EU’s agriculture

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The Smart-AKIS Final Conference gathered more than 100 people from all over Europe interested on the outcomes of the 2 and a half years of our Thematic Network. The Smart-AKIS Conference gathered DG AGRI officials, agricultural practitioners, researchers and industry leaders interested in fostering the adoption of Smart Farming in Europe.

The Conference was held in the Representation of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia to the European Union, in Brussels, and was animated by Thanos Balafoutis from CERTH-iBO. Following an official opening of the conference by Spyros Fountas, from Agricultural University of Athens, Smart-AKIS Coordinator and Ivo Hostens from CEMA – European Agricultural Machinery, co-organisers of the event and Smart-AKIS partner, an inspirational speech took place by Leon Noordam, from Novifarm, providing a testimonial about the real life application of smart farming technologies in Dutch farms.

This was the perfect introduction about the topic and challenges of the adoption of Smart Farming in Europe, that was followed by a presentation of the highlights of Smart-AKIS Network achievements for overcoming such hurdles and further promote the adoption of Smart Farming:

  • The research conducted about the number and topics of scientific papers and publications in Smart Farming carried out by Wageningen University & Research, presented by Koen van Boheemen;

  • The research conducted with more than 270 farmers and experts from Europe about the needs and interests of farmers about Smart Farming and the analysis of multi-actor innovation processes leading to successful Smart Farming new products and processes, presented by Maria Kernecker from Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research-ZALF;

  • The multi-actor interactive process carried out in Smart AKIS 7 Innovation Hubs, gathering more than 900 stakeholders for the dissemination of smart farming technologies and the generation of more than 35 project ideas, presented by Smay Ait-Amar from ACTA, and the testimonial provided by David Tinker from David Tinker & Associates –EurAgEng about the results of the workshops held in UK Innovation Hub;

  • The services and capabilities accessible in the Smart Farming Platform, with a searchable database of more than 1.400 products, projects and scientific papers on Smart Farming Technologies, through a live demonstration carried out by Milica Trajkovic from BioSense Institute;

  • The dissemination activities carried out by the Network, building a digital community with more than 3.000 followers and users, and the dissemination of the Network at more than 70 events, presented by Ion Gorriti from Iniciativas Innovadoras.

The Conference was also the venue for the launch of the recommendations drawn by Smart-AKIS following a bottom up participatory process considering all the inputs from the Network’s work. Spyros Fountas from Agricultural University of Athens and Natalia Bellostas, from Iniciativas Innovadoras presented a selection of the recommendations on three domains:

    • Enhancing innovation-driven agricultural research within the EIP-AGRI ecosystem.

    • Future research in Smart Farming.

  • Mainstreaming Smart Farming.

All in all, more than 70 overall and specific recommendations have been drawn aiming at policy-makers, research, industry, advisors and the farmer community, from which just a selection was shared during the event. The complete document with the recommendations will be available in the coming 2 months.

After such presentation, Louis Mahy from EC’s DG AGRI made a timely overview of the current state of play of the support of the EC for the Digitalization of Agriculture and Smart Farming adoption, with a specific focus on upcoming calls from Horizon 2020 for the 2018-2020 period, and the new Common Agricultural Policy regulation.

As a means to illustrate some of the good practices identified during Smart-AKIS, aligned with the recommendations presented, a Multi-Actor Panel took place moderated by Sara Djelveh from CEMA:

  • API-AGRO & DigiFermes initiatives were presented by Samy Ait-Amar, from ACTA. The first of the 2 initiatives, both located in France, is an open platform and ecosystem for the exploitation of agricultural data and the delivery of new services, while the second is an innovative programme by Arvalis for the demonstration of new technologies in digital demonstration farms.

  • AgroSens Digital Agriculture of Serbia initiative was presented by Grigoris Chatzikostas, from BioSense Institute. This is a unique digital platform providing a number of satellite information and services to the whole of Serb Farmers. The main aim of the platform is to provide monitoring on crops by combining processed Sentinel pictures with meteorological data and on the ground information.

  • EU Code of Conduct on Agricultural Data Sharing by Contractual Agreement: The recent code was presented by Vik Vandecaveye, CEMA Chairman of Digital Farming Project Team / CNH Industrial. A coalition of associations from the EU agri-food sector pulled efforts to draft a joint EU Code of Conduct on agricultural data sharing to enhance a swift move into digital farming. The aim of this code of conduct is to ensure that data-sharing leads to a prosperous agri-food chain bringing benefits for all by setting transparent principles, clarifying responsibilities and creating trust among partners.

  • S3 Agri-Food Platform on ‘High Tech Farming’, was presented by Fabio Boscaleri, Policy Officer, Brussels Office, Tuscany Region. The main objective of the partnership is the development of joint activities for accelerating the adoption of high and new technologies in small and family farms, new solutions for early detection of pests and diseases and the improvement of livestock health and wellbeing.

Finally, a Policy Panel took place moderated by Grigoris Chatzikostas from BioSense Institute, with the aim of getting feedback to the Smart-AKIS Recommendations from highly qualified and expert from the research, industry, advisory services and policy-making fields, represented by:

    • Louis Mahy, from EC DG AGRI, representing policy field.

    • Krijn Poppe, from Wageningen University & Research, member of Smart-AKIS Advisory Board, representing the research field.

    • Tom Kelly, from Teagasc, member of Smart-AKIS Advisory Board, representing advisory services.

  • Klaus-Herbert Rolf, from 365Farmnet, member of Smart-AKIS Advisory Board, representing the industry.

All of them expressed their satisfaction and positive review of the Recommendations document, highlighting some central ideas such as the conception of smart farming as a tool rather than an ends in itself, the further promotion of the participation of farmers on multi-actor innovation processes, the key role of advisory services in the mainstreaming of smart farming, acknowledged by new CAP and the efforts stills needed in the field of education and Training in smart farming at all levels from agricultural schools, to advisors to farmers themselves.

The Conference was closed by Spyros Fountas with the very important message that in spite of the project’s end in August, the Smart-AKIS website and Smart Farming Platform will remain operative for the upcoming years thanks to the commitment of the partnership.

Attendants also had the chance to tour the Smart Agriculture Village, an informal and networking forum where audiovisual materials, posters dissemination materials and representatives from Smart AKIS and other EU projects initiatives on the Smart Agriculture field: IoF2020, 4D4F, NEFERTITI, DataBio, AgroCycle, INNOSETA, GATES, and S3 Agri-Food on ‘High Tech Farming’.

You can download the Conference presentations:

Smart Farming from the Field: inspirational speech. Leon Noordam. Novifarm.

Digital agriculture in Europe: state of play & future trends. Louis Mahy. EC DG AGRI.

Smart-AKIS Highlights.

Smart-AKIS Recommendations.

Multi-Actor Panel on Smart Farming: Best Practices from the Field.

Policy Panel on Smart Farming.

You can also see the pictures from the Conference in our Facebook Album in this link.

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