Transition To A Data-Driven Agriculture (TTADDA) – for a new Dutch & Japanese Potato Circular Value Chain
The transition to a high tech-driven, circular agriculture is the key target of this research project. The project will deliver new sensor applications and AI tools that will realize a productivity boost via a data-driven potato production system within the framework of circular agriculture. In a promising international partnership, we will bring together plant science and novel sensor technology with AI and robotics to optimize the potato chain. The results of applied use cases will be disseminated with a wide/ global audience to convince breeders, farmers and processing companies how they can benefit from these high-tech developments, boosting sustainability and food security. The need to deal with labour shortages, sustainability requirements and climate change is a problem for farmers in the Netherlands and elsewhere, but certainly in Japan. To boost productivity and lower costs, farmers can increase yield, introduce precise crop management, and lower labour costs.. In this project, we will offer technology based solutions for these issues. Yield is expected to increase by selecting more suitable and robust/resilient crops. These crops will be analyzed with ultra-new sensors on precision agricultural labour-free, autonomous devices. Using AI on the collected data will result in improved crop management and thereby reduce the use of chemicals
The focus of the project lies on digitization of the production process of potatoes with multiple sensors, fusing the data collected with autonomous vehicles & drones in cooperation with the National Agricultural Research Organization of Japan, WUR and Kubota. With FAIR based well-structured data management systems we’ll open the floor for advanced Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools. We will work on improved variety screening technologies, accurate potato yield prediction, improved crop care, development of a potato data passport and the improved quality of stored potatoes. Recently Kubota, a leading Japanese farm equipment manufacturer, has opened an R&D office at the WUR campus to bring together academic knowledge with practical experiences. High tech sensors and knowledge from IMEC will strengthen this PPP via the OnePlanet initiative, in which WUR and IMEC are teaming up to connect the novel photonic sensor from the high tech domain with agrifood applications. This broad Japanese-Dutch consortium has as well the knowledge as the technology as the connection to the farmers to make this data-driven transition. It’s a good example of an international PPP, where technology and chain assurance are essential to change and optimisation using novel tools to link the entire potato production chain.
This PPS is part of the KIA Landbouw, water en voedsel and the MMIP ST1 Smart Agri-Horti-Water-Food . The main problem in the potato chain is caused by the fact that data and technology is not sufficiently aligned. Lack of knowledge, hardware not able to communicate and share data , and a value chain that does not function optimally. This results in suboptimal yields, food waste and high costs due to these inefficiencies on needless labor, excessive usage of pesticides and fertilizer. To understand how his crop develops over time is crucial for a farmer to make the crop management decisions. He constantly wants to know if diseases are emerging, when does he need to spray? What yields can he expect? Especially for potatoes the important part of this development happens below ground - tubers - invisible to the human eye. Can we somehow get insights in these below ground developments based on plant development, or can we actually ‘see’ inside the soil with new sensors? On the other hand precision farming tools are rapidly coming to the market, but how is a simple farmer able to accumulate and interpret all the data from these solutions. Kubota, as a farm automation company, can distribute these tools to its clients. Potato breeders face similar issues in selecting the right variety for the right market, screening of these varieties is a cumbersome task, often still done manually. Solynta is searching for solutions. These requests from industry have triggered researchers to formulate research questions that will explore solutions to these matters. Within this project we have gathered as a public-private partnership consortium the right partners in the market to introduce data-driven solutions into this market.
The Dutch agricultural sector is at an important turning point, as integrated and sustainable production is demanded from policy and society, who also need an increase of production with the current growing world population. These focus points are the most important indicators for success, illustrated by the Vision paper “Agriculture, nature and food: valuable and connected” published by Dutch Agriculture Minister Schouten in 2018. Specific aims in the mission text that will be addressed in this project are; Robust and new cultivars are to grow in new growing systems, cared for by autonomous and self-learning vehicles and robots controlled by smart decision support systems, while minimizing inputs and greenhouse gas emission and maximizing biological diversity and natural resistance towards plagues. Plus the data-driven approach will result in phenotyping tools for breeders and precision detection, prediction and removal of diseases and weeds for farmers. Because Dutch potato farmers slowly but steadily age, farms grow larger and on this large scale farmer is on its own with current practises not able anymore to do exactly what is right for each plant.
The Japanese agricultural sector is facing similar challenges. However the problems in Japan are much more acute and require immediate addressing. With aging of farmers and natural disasters by climate change threatening the complete agricultural sector on one side and the public demanding high-quality food which is produced in a transparent and sustainable way, Japanese agriculture is reinventing itself at a drastically high pace. Japan is worldwide one of the biggest developers of robotics, automated systems and Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools (RVO report, 2019). As the Vision document of the Dutch minister acknowledges, international cooperation is of utmost importance in tackling the challenges of the world food production
This project will deliver:
● Self-learning, autonomous robotic systems, where sensors gather data for big-data analysis and real-time actuation following decisions from automated precision agriculture decision support systems;
● The rapid breeding of new more resilient potato varieties using data from precision detection methods and artificial intelligence to feed advanced crop growth models for predicting the phenotype of cultivar under different growing conditions;
● Realization of a crop-passport data infrastructure, where data from sensors and robotic systems is automatically stored and analyzed by artificial intelligence. The knowledge obtained from these analyses can be used as input for smart precision agriculture control systems to optimally utilize natural resistance and biodiversity to prevent diseases and to optimize processes throughout the chain;
● Data-driven development of new, innovative cropping systems, focusing on sustainable management of soil and crops.
The companies and research institutes in this consortium will be frequently in contact with each other per work package and will be involved in the overall project progress. Together with the researchers, the engineers working groups inform all members by means of presentations, test visits, and newsworthy messages on a PPP-specific "portal". In consultation with the partners, the results will also be shared with the sector via the existing communication channels from GMV/ FME / the Dutch embassy in Tokyo, etc. which are newsletters, websites and open days / events. Where possible and only in agreement with the consortium partners, open source software will be disseminated. By means of trade journals and news magazines, disseminating to other target groups will be realized. The user group with members from farmers, breeders, and tech developers will also propagate the results within their networks. WUR is a partner in various EU initiatives, such as the EU project EU IOF2020 Connectivity project and the PPP National field lab precision agriculture, in both reliably measuring, modeling, predicting and dealing with hyperdimensional data is a spearhead.
The activities in this PPP will be strengthened by insights from these EU projects via WP5. The results are published where possible on social media channels of the consortium parties, fairs, scientific symposia / conferences, in scientific journals and in professional journals. In addition, there are open days that are also accessible to the general public. Partner GMV/ FME has an excellent network to reach out to a broad audience.
To future users of this data-driven approach we aim to showcase the technology developed within this project from the start the end final year of the project at a variety of locations such as Wageningen University, like for instance summer schools on Imaging & Phenotyping, and other locations around the Netherlands and in Japan to demonstrate production/breeding methods. Exotic and inspiring locations will be selected to showcase the educational aspects and farthest-reaching limits of current technology. Live experience demo sessions will be organized on industrial fairs like Vision & Robotics/ Potato Europe 2020/ conferences etc to offer a real experience to new users by sending out invitations distributed by associations/ newsletters, online media.000
WUR will take up the coordination of at least one scientific paper on these developments per year, which will then generate presentations at conferences to share insights generated with the academic community. While the general audience will be given insights in developments via, high-tech conference/community gatherings, and further international press.