Project to digitally transform Europe’s agri-food sector begins in WIT

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Kevin Doolin, TSSG

Kevin Doolin, TSSG

TSSG’s focus on the agri-tech sector goes a long way to ensure there is a pipeline of relevant technology based employment opportunities in the South East

Agricultural technology experts from across the globe will be in Waterford and the south east for three days from 10 September, for the launch of a ground-breaking project which will digitally transform Europe’s agri-food sector and support vibrant rural areas.

DEMETER will show how field and plant sensors, weather stations, monitoring and control devices and so much more will help support sustainable and safe farming and food production systems. Through its multi-actor approach, the programme is also set to improve farmer wellbeing and generally support farmers in precision decision making, those behind the project say.

The €17 million programme, funded by the European Commission under Horizon 2020, will involve 25 deployment sites, 6,000 farmers and over 38,000 devices and sensors being deployed, spanning 318,000 hectares in 18 countries, including Ireland. It includes 60 partners and together, they will run 20 different pilot programmes across five agricultural sectors.

Top names in agriculture

Big names in world farming such as John Deere are on board and one of the core partners is the World Farmers Organisation. In Ireland, a project on animal wellbeing involves Teagasc. Pilots will see tech experts working hand in hand with farmers and the wider agri industry in areas such as waste and energy management, precision machinery, healthy and high quality crops, livestock and animal health, supply chain robotics and interoperability and more.

An open call for interested farmers, technology solution providers and other interested parties will be launched next year, according to project co-ordinator, Kevin Doolin, Director of Innovation at the Telecommunications, Software and Systems Group (TSSG) at Waterford Institute of Technology. It will have a €1 million budget.

Precision agriculture leaders in Europe

Demeter is the goddess of the harvest and presides over grains and the fertility of the earth and Mr Doolin says the project demonstrates TSSG’s and the project team’s strength as precision agriculture leaders in Europe.

“DEMETER will demonstrate the real-life potential of advanced interoperability in the Internet of Things (IoT) technologies across the value chain in multiple agri-food operational environments, involving different production sectors, production systems and farm sizes.

“DEMETER also displays how an integrated approach to business, behaviour and technology can support farmers and the sector. It provides further opportunities, including new business models on the farm and in the wider agri-food economy, while also helping to safeguard Europe’s precious natural resources.”

Impact on south east

Congratulating Kevin and TSSG on their success and the three day event, Dr Mark White, Vice President of Research, Innovation and Graduate Studies WIT emphasised the impact that projects like DEMETER has on Waterford and the South East’s economy and digital eco-system.

“WIT and its research community, including the high performing TSSG, have consistently attracted large scale EU projects and funding into the region supporting high end, highly skilled jobs over many years. TSSG’s focus and recent success in the agri-tech sector goes a long way to ensure there is a pipeline of relevant technology based employment opportunities in the South East.”

DEMETER will monitor plant and animal products during their life cycle from farm to fork, increasing on-farm profitability, lowering farming’s ecological footprint and decreasing the use of natural resources.

Data gleaned will be shared, thus supporting new business opportunities for viable, sustainable rural communities, he added.

Amplitude event

It’s a busy term for the TSSG team as it prepares to co-host Amplitude on 6 November 2019 in Kilkenny. Amplitude is an annual conference led by the Technology Transfer Offices of Waterford Institute of Technology and Institute of Technology Carlow with the support of EI Technology Gateways and Research Centres. This year’s event has a Precision Agriculture stream and details of the cascade funding available through DEMETER will be outlined there. Early bird tickets cost just €40 and are available until September 20 on Eventbrite.


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