In recent decades, combining technology with traditional agriculture has been widely adopted, delivering solutions that have hugely improved the lives of farmers and their business prospects. Countries across Europe are increasingly implementing policies and strategies that enhance the sustainability of agricultural production and, in most cases, these recognise the added value offered by digitalisation and related technologies. However, although modern agriculture is being adopted across Europe, much of the agri-food community still follows traditional methods. Increased investment in agricultural technology and innovation is required to achieve sustainable economic growth in these challenging times, where a number of factors are impacting heavily on the agri-food sector, such as climate change, thinning of natural resources, extreme weather events, a fragmented food value chain, and increasing demand for food and other agricultural products.
The main objective of the Fixed Call for Proposals for Applications Activities in “The sustainable transformation of agriculture through digitalisation and space” is to develop space-based services and applications boosting the sustainable transformation of agriculture by taking advantage of data and innovative technologies.
This Fixed Call for Proposals is intended to support industry in the development of services focused on the optimisation of agricultural practices that minimise negative environmental impacts in terms of soil degradation, water depletion and contamination, inefficient energy use and loss of biodiversity.
TOPICS OF RELEVANCE
The following topics are examples of relevant themes that can be addressed within this Call for Proposals. Other topics can also be proposed if supported by the user community.
- Agriculture of Data: aims to support the transition to sustainable agriculture in Europe, as well as to strengthen policy monitoring and evaluation capabilities through the collection, analysis and sharing of electronic data and/or information. In principle, all types of data can be included in this definition: farm and agronomy data; socio-economic data; and space and IoT-based data collected from public authorities and agencies, private businesses and farmers. All data and related information is essential for efficient Farm Management Information Systems (FMIS). The incorporation of new data, seamless connectivity, interoperability among databases, edge-computing and AI capabilities are just some examples of innovative technological solutions that can improve the services offered in FMIS.
- Climate-smart agriculture (CSA): aims to support actions for transforming agri-food systems towards green and climate-resilient practices. Agriculture is affected in several ways by climate change and is the sector many believe is most vulnerable to its consequences. Substantial investment and innovative solutions are required to maintain the current crop yields and to achieve sufficient food quality and production levels that continue to meet the increasing demand of the global population. Various paths are possible within CSA: choosing drought-resistant crops; returning to autochthone crops, which eases pressure on the environment, especially water resources; improving the use of water resources; and maximising the repurposing of wastewater.
VALUE OF SPACE
Services for supporting the sustainable transformation of agriculture will benefit greatly from the combined use of satellite communication and positioning, as well as earth observation imagery.
Satellite Telecommunications (satcom): enable connectivity for in-situ data collection in remote areas, providing additional information that, combined with satEO data, can generate actionable outputs. Connectivity in rural areas is a key obstacle to the development of effective solutions. Satcom could provide both broadband connectivity to farms with no, limited or expensive terrestrial internet access and Satellite Internet of Things (S-IoT) for affordable and efficient data transfer and for position augmentation techniques that can guide tractors and machines.
Satellite Earth Observation (satEO): EO satellites are unique in their ability to monitor and to detect changes in fields, plants, soil and their surroundings (such as humidity, temperature and vegetation indices). EO data enables services related to smart farming such as crop yield prediction, crop disease monitoring and soil moisture estimation. SatEO is also an important means of collecting data and assessing the positive impact of proposed services on the environment and demonstrating compliance with regulations. The benefits of High-Platform Altitude Systems (HAPS) could also be considered, as these systems may offer advantages over satellites or complementary applications, and can be used for communication and/or remote sensing for spatial resolution and temporal coverage.
Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS): are essential to track the position of vehicles or any moving element of the proposed service, such as drones. Drones could also be adopted in Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) scenarios, owing to the capabilities offered by satcom. GNSS also enables the autonomous driving of AGVs (autonomous ground vehicles) and can be used to locate the position of sensors that measure physical parameters - of fields, for example.
ABOUT THE OPPORTUNITY
As part of this call for proposals, ESA will support Demonstration Projects under this ‘Announcement of Opportunities’ as a 'Thematic for Proposals':
- Demonstration Projects enable successful teams to put their intended service into practice. Teams will test their service in the market by running a pilot with significant users and, by the end of the project, the service should be operational.
HOW TO APPLY
- Register your team on esa star Registration (https://esastar-emr.sso.esa.int) today! If your team is made up of more than one company or organisation, each entity will need to register.
- Scroll down to the ‘Downloads’ section of this webpage to download all the official documents. Official documents will be available only after the Call is open.
- Download the Activity Pitch Questionnaire template and submit your pitch as instructed in the Activity Pitch Questionnaire guidelines, through the online form. Submission of APQ is possible from 13 October until 13 December 2023.
- ESA will evaluate your pitch. Teams whose pitches are positively evaluated will be invited to prepare an Outline Proposal and then a Full Proposal. Teams must obtain a Letter of Authorisation from their respective National Delegation before submitting a Full Proposal. Contact details of all National Delegates can be found here: National Delegation(s).
AUTHORISATION OF FUNDING
For this call, companies residing in the following Member States will be eligible to apply: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
The Fixed Call for Proposals call ‘the sustainable transformation of agriculture through digitalisation and space’ is issued under the ARTES BASS programme line.
A webinar is planned on 25 October 2023, 11:00 – 12:00 CEST. The registration form will follow soon.