The project has reached the 2nd year and is now officially deploying its Sustainable Innovation Pilots throughout Europe.
Ploutos H2020 Project
Ploutos is an EU funded project that aims to re-balance value chains, in order to enhance win-win outcomes for different actors involved, such as farmers, cooperatives, agri-food companies, technology providers, SMEs and others. Combining behaviour innovation, collaborative business model innovation and data driven technological services, Ploutos will increase transparency, information flow and management capacity. The result will be more competitive, efficient, resilient and sustainable agri-food value chains with improved performance and positive socio-economic and environmental impacts.
All innovations of Ploutos are combined in its’ Sustainable Framework, a toolkit, which will be assessed and adjusted through the Ploutos Sustainable Innovation Pilots (SIPs). All of them are currently being launched across Europe, including in Greece, the Netherlands, Ireland and Spain, North Macedonia, Serbia, Cyprus, Slovenia, Italy and France. Apart from geographic coverage, Ploutos pilots also cover a large range of agri-food ecosystems, including arable horticulture, greenhouses, perennials, livestock and dairy production.
A model to establish and test a Smart Farming Strategy on rural farms while also demonstrating its benefit in the wider agri-food community – Dingle Peninsula, Ireland.
One of the pilots that are deployed within the context of Ploutos will analyse real-time data to develop models and effective decision support tools for farmers on the Dingle Peninsula and will support a diversified approach to farming business management in terms of how the food production business of farming can integrate with other actors in the value chain, to provide a sustainable, local industry.
Rural farms in the western coastal regions of Ireland generally have small to medium dairy herd sizes of 40-80 cows, generating just low to medium incomes. This scenario is exacerbated by high labour input on many farms, and the now more stringent regulations regarding greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and other environmental factors, all of which prompt the younger generation to leave the career of farming and the rural area in general. This pilot aims to integrate farming enterprises with related value chains such as agri-tourism or food tourism to enable co-created, innovative solutions to both address climate change and support the financial viability of farms.
In this SIP, data describing current and predicted weather and soil conditions, grass growth rates, and key environmental indicators from 36 farms will be analyzed and used to develop models and effective decision support tools for farmers. The information generated will indicate (a) available quantities of grass and the most efficient strategy by which it could be used for grazing animals; (b) the land areas most and least in need of fertilizer; (c) management of slurry application based on soil and weather conditions rather than calendar date; (d) extension of the grazing period in autumn (depending on grass growth rates, temperature, soil) which will result in increased carbon efficiency; (e) environmental quality parameters in the area.
This data is critical to establishing the necessary knowledge base to identify the benefits of a reliable Smart Farming/ decision-making approach, and the context within which it works. It will be built into decision support tools aimed to improve decision-making in relation to environment, labour and cost efficiency.
The use of data from the smart farming approach will add value to a range of products and services, e.g. (i) using reliable environmental parameters in marketing goods from the area; (ii) localised real-time weather data enabling providers to tailor tourist packages optimised for changing weather conditions; (iii) building a brand for the Dingle Peninsula to secure the region as a destination of choice, supported by data proving low food miles and low carbon footprint. The Dingle Peninsula Hub will collaborate with Teagasc, IFA, local Dingle hub-based technology provider Net Feasa and Kerry Agribusiness to roll-out the sensor technology and decision-making tools.
Sustaining Ploutos Innovation
The results of the pilots will be available through the Ploutos Innovation Academy, after the lifetime of the project. The Academy will make available the know-how and best practices acquired from the implementation of the pilots to interested parties that will be able to replicate them easily.