On December 7th, the FCT (Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology) and Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft signed a joint letter of intent strengthening their scientific and technological collaboration in the field of precision agriculture. FhP-AICOS is slated to play an important role in the project, contributing its IT expertise.
The new cooperation agreement was signed during the workshop "Fraunhofer Portugal – Precision Agriculture”, where there was a debate about the theme “Challenges and opportunities for Precision Agriculture: FhG Portugal leading the way”. Among those present were Reimund Neugebauer, President of Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, Manuel Heitor, the Portuguese Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education, Liliana Ferreira, Director of Fraunhofer Portugal AICOS, and Alexander Michaelis, Director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems IKTS, as well as several national R&D institutions specialized in the topic of agriculture.
The agriculture sector worldwide is currently in a transformation stage, having to find new solutions for new problems, like demand tied to population growth and climate change. But the increasing adoption rate of technology in agriculture has been allowing greater yields, with increased efficiency and lowered costs. Advances in robotics and sensing technologies, with shorter development and qualification levels, have shown results and are attracting growing levels of public and private funding in R&D activities.
By pooling know-how and financial resources in a strategic partnership, the new agreement will pave the way for new activities in the field of ‘Precision Agriculture’ in Portugal. The letter signed by Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft and the FCT lays out plans to advance the digitalization of agriculture and forestry, including using digital technologies to manage agricultural and forest areas more precisely and sustainably. FhP-AICOS is slated to play an important role in this new precision agriculture project and is happy to put its expertise in information technology and emerging communications at the service of this new initiative.
FhP-AICOS has been known to collaborate with initiatives just as this one, which bring together need-knowers and solution-makers to work together at the service of pressing societal needs. Deus Ex-Machina (DEM) for instance, is a project that has been focusing on not only agriculture, but also nutrition, activity monitoring, and health and wellbeing. DEMBACCHUS is an outstanding example of what can be achieved by this kind of collaboration. “BACCHUS – Boosting Agriculture with a Companion for Connecting Healthy Plants, Users and Sensors”, a subproject of DEM, is currently in prototyping stage and shows great promise. A mobile companion for farmers, it will help reduce waste and improve agro-food quality by providing real time monitoring, predictions of productivity, and intelligent recommendations and alerts.
The first agreement between Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft and the FCT, was signed in 2007, and enabled the creation of Fraunhofer Portugal and the creation of the first Fraunhofer R&D Center in Portugal - Fraunhofer Portugal AICOS (FhP-AICOS), the first Fraunhofer Institute in Europe outside of Germany.