The public presentation of AWAM, the new Fraunhofer Centre in Portugal, for smart agriculture and water management, took place today, as part of the inaugural event of Fraunhofer AICOS’ 10th Anniversary celebrations, that counted with the presence of the Portuguese Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education, Manuel Heitor.
In its 10th year of existence, Fraunhofer Portugal presents a new centre dedicated to “Smart Agriculture and Water Management” which originates from a partnership between the Fraunhofer Society (Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft), Fraunhofer Portugal, the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT), the Universidade de Évora (UEvora) and the Universidade de Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro (UTAD).
The partners felt a need for the creation of an institution for applied research in this specific field of science and technology, as global agriculture is facing severe challenges due to growing population and climate change. New high-tech approaches are needed to efficiently address e.g. the security of supply in terms of quantity and quality of food, the sustainability and environmental compatibility of farming, and the competitiveness of European farmers. Water availability is an important issue in this context which is closely connected to waste water treatment and water recycling in all parts of society.
The main goal of this Fraunhofer centre is, therefore, the development and application of new process technologies on the basis of a comprehensive data analysis and modelling to close regional loops of nutrients, water and energy. Process technologies will include, but are not limited to, membrane technology, general process engineering, sensors and sensor grids and energy systems. To this end, research activities will be pursued in close cooperation with industrial partners in the following areas:
> Development, demonstration and application of process technologies, especially regarding separation processes with e.g. membrane technology, sensor technology as well as energy, to facilitate efficiency in agriculture, forestry and water management;
> Integration of digitalisation and development of highly automated, partially self-regulating systems to meet the requirements of ‘smart agriculture’ and ’smart water management’, and their demonstration with prototypes and field experiments;
> Process development and application in line with concepts of environmental sustainability, taking into account ecosystem preservation and services, and a circular economy approach.
This event, held at the Rectory of UTAD, counted with the presence of: Liliana Ferreira (Fraunhofer Portugal, UPorto); Pedro Almeida (Fraunhofer Portugal); Filipe Sousa (Fraunhofer AICOS); Jörg Laschke and Alexander Michaelis (Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft and Fraunhofer IKTS); Thomas Härtling (Fraunhofer IKTS); Gottlieb Basch (Fraunhofer AWAM); António Augusto Fontaínhas Fernandes (Rector of UTAD); Tim Hogg (UTAD); Teresa Pinto Correia (UEvora); and João Paulo Oliveira (The Navigator Company).