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E-crops – Technology for Sustainable Digital Agriculture


“E-Crops – Technology for Sustainable Digital Agriculture” is a strongly interdisciplinary project with significant participation of public and private stakeholders. The project aims to develop and integrate new technologies for the promotion of the transition from precision agriculture to Agriculture 4.0 in Southern Italy, combining it with smart grids and data management tools (digital agriculture), so as to enable process automation within an agro-environmental sustainability framework. The aim is to contribute to bridging the innovation gap in agriculture through a Digital Farming project that links the development of innovative sensing instruments to Precision Farming, thus enabling the production of new data and providing decision support for the management of specific farming systems, with particular reference to agro-industrial supply chains in Southern Italy. E-crops will develop innovation in sensor technology (from bio-tech sensors to imaging systems), in agricultural robotics and in data transmission and management technologies. The project involves the use of an infrastructure for HTP (High Throughput Phenotyping) phenotyping, an excellence of Southern Italy and the only one in Italy, for the creation of digital representations of crops in a controlled environment, which will make it possible to increase the level of knowledge that can be obtained using non-invasive surveying techniques.

Financial Resources
The project, which will run for 30 months, was funded by the NOP Research and Innovation 2014-2020 under Axis II “Thematic Projects”, Action “Clusters” which finances industrial research and experimental development projects in the 12 specialization areas identified by the National Research Programme (PNR) 2015-2020, in particular in the “Agrifood” specialization area. For the implementation of this initiative, a budget of 4.541.314,63 euro was allocated to the following beneficiaries forming the public-private partnership:

  • National Research Council
  • Servizi di informazione territoriale Srl
  • Cantina sociale cooperativa di San Donaci Sca
  • University of SALENTO
  • Basilicata Agency for Development and Innovation in Agriculture
  • Cantina di Ruvo di Puglia Società Cooperativa Agricola
  • Bonifiche Ferraresi Società Agricola
  • Apofruit Italia Società Cooperativa Agricola
  • University of TUSCIA
  • FOS Srl

Impact on the Territory
The project stems from two considerations: on the one hand, the central role played by the agrifood sector in the economic development of the Country, and of Southern Italy in particular; on the other hand, the need to combine precision agriculture with smart grids and data management tools (digital agriculture) to enable process automation within an agro-environmental sustainability framework that sees an increase in the vulnerability of crops to biotic and abiotic stresses. Currently, only 1% of the Italian agricultural land uses precision farming techniques. In this context, E-crops intends to contribute to the development and spread of Agriculture 4.0 in Southern Italy by developing innovative technologies and methodologies for the management of crops and the risks to which they are exposed and by introducing new technologies into the production systems of the agrifood chain through a number of pilot applications able to monitor and manage processes according to a company’s objectives. The benefits in terms of market and employment are threefold: new markets for technology producers; increased competitiveness and profits associated with the hiring of new professionals; opportunities for the creation of start-ups combining technology and agriculture.

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