NITREOS - Nitrogen Fertilization, Irrigation and Crop Growth Monitoring using Earth Observation Systems

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NITREOS is a service platform that serves organic farmers, as well as conventional, in carrying out daily activities in a more efficient, profitable and sustainable way, compared to the practices they used until now. NITREOS provides the following services to farmers and agricultural consultants:

    1. Irrigation scheduling service estimates soil moisture at the depth of the root system for the upcoming week, compares it with the optimal soil moisture for the plant growth and provides irrigation advice. Combined with weather prediction, it supports decisions about the optimal time for irrigation and the appropriate dose;
    2. Variable rate fertilization service provides pixel-based fertilizer recommendations, allowing the application of the optimum in-season nitrogen amount. Application rates are provided in raw nitrogen requirements. The estimated amount of non-synthetic fertilizers is also provided;
    3. Crop growth monitoring service provides an overview of plant vigour. Using vegetation indices it depicts the health and progress per field and per pixel, providing the opportunity to detect on time possible problems; and
    4. Yield estimation service provides a forecast of the performance of the field one month prior to harvesting. Users can take advantage of that information to make the necessary arrangements for logistics and/or storage.

Users and their needs

NITREOS users:

    1. Farmers;
    2. Crop consultants;
    3. Organic Agricultural Cooperatives & Organic Farmers groups.

NITREOS stakeholders:

    1. Organic input suppliers;
    2. Organic product clusters;
    3. Agri-food industries;
    4. Organic consumers association;
    5. Organic trade associations;
    6. Organic certification bodies;
    7. Farm machinery companies.

The user requirements of NITREOS were the result of a competitor analysis, a market desk research and communication with users. All that work was categorized under “personas” that are representations of the needs and goals of a wider group. Following those some scenarios on the routine and daily activities were developed that showcased the needs of the users. Indicatively, some of the needs that stemmed from that process were the following:

    1. monitor the daily status of fields;
    2. monitor vigor related parameters;
    3. identify possible biotic threats;
    4. get a more accurate yield estimation;
    5. decrease input in the parcel and maintain yield;
    6. receive alerts based on the appropriate crop stage for fertilizer application;
    7. get recommendations on the amount of nitrogen required; and
    8. monitor on a daily basis information on the cumulative actual water demand;

Finally, based on those the user requirements of NITREOS service platform were elicited.

Greece

Spain

Italy

Portugal

Service/ system concept

The system architecture of NITREOS consists of five components, each responsible for a specific operation. Those five building blocks create a solid system, complemented by an easy and clear user interface, bringing the NITREOS application to the end users: farmers, agricultural advisors and co-operatives. The building blocks of NITREOS, as also depicted in the figure below are the following:

    1. Backend component;
    2. Map server component;
    3. Data engine component;
    4. Frontend/ user component; and
    5. Octopush component.

NITREOS supports farmers and agricultural consultants make decisions on their daily activities, in order to achieve the best possible outcome. In NITREOS the IT expertise that the team already holds is used, in order to provide to the end user a simple and easy to use application with high quality services. More specifically the four services that are offered through the NITREOS service platform are the following:

    1. irrigation scheduling: optimum time for irrigation and recommended dose;
    2. variable rate fertilization: optimum fertilization window and pixel-based fertilizer recommendations;
    3. crop growth monitoring: plant vigour and possible problems; and
    4. yield estimation: necessary information for logistics and/or storage. 

Space Added Value

In order to provide the four services previously described, NITREOS uses the following space assets:

    1. Sentinel-2 mission;
    2. MODIS Terra mission;
    3. LSA SAF;
    4. HSAF.

Those assets are used by the Octopush component, which provides satellite and weather derived agricultural services via an API developed by AgroApps PC, which offers:

    1. Yield Estimation and crop growth monitoring;
    2. Vegetation Indices and crop specific biophysical parameters including leaf area index, leaf chlorophyll and above ground biomass;
    3. Agriculture decision services such as Irrigation Scheduling and Variable Rate Fertilization; 
    4. Detection and diagnostics of pests and diseases;
    5. Very high resolution weather forecasts and specific agrometeorological parameters; and
    6. Crop damage assessment services.

NITREOS builds upon the high resolution imagery provided by Copernicus, complemented with other open EO data (i.e. Landsat 8) to improve the quality of the offered products.

 

Current Status

The NITREOS service platform is partially completed. There are some minor issues still pending, concerning the overall functionality of the platform. Nevertheless, since the functionality of the services is complete and are providing results for the end users, NITREOS is ready to enter the operational phase.

Apart from the technical aspect, the business plan of NITREOS is also in place. There is a clear roadmap on the next steps that need to be taken in order for NITREOS platform to be launched into the market and to gradually

The first milestone before reaching the market though is for NITREOS to be validated in the next cultivation period. The results from all four services are expected to be validated by end users in various locations in Greece. Having that validation the team will be ready to take NITREOS into the market by the end of this year. 

Project Managers

Contractor Project Manager

Dimitra Perperidou
N. Kountouriotou 3
HXF3+7V Kalamaria
Greece
0030 2310 253810

ESA Project Manager

Cristiano Cialone
ESA ECSAT
Fermi Avenue, Harwell Campus, Didcot
Oxfordshire
OX11 0FD
United Kingdom
+44 (0)1235 444360

Status Date

Updated: 16 January 2019 - Created: 16 January 2019