Research project Internet of Food and Farm 2020

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Jürgen Vangeyte

Scientific director of Agricultural Engineering department

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Main research question

Internet of Food and Farm 2020 (IoF2020) was a 4-year Horizon2020 project with over 120 partners from 22 countries. For this innovation project Europe has dedicated € 30 million to enhance the sustainability and productivity of the agro-food sector. In total 33 use cases were set up in 5 sectors (arable, dairy, fruit, vegetables and meat), of which 14 were attracted halfway the project with an open call. ILVO, one of the lead partners in IoF2020, coordinates two use cases: one on tracking cows in nature areas together with Sensolus (BE) and Inagro (BE); and one on the optimization of pig farm management together with Evonik Porphyrio (BE), Vion Food Group (NL), ZLTO (NL) and Links Foundation (IT). Because of ILVO’s leadership role in this prestigious project, the transformation of agriculture and food into smart networks of connected objects will also happen in the region of Flanders. The starting point of IoF2020 is that many isolated digital machines and sensors are popping up in European agriculture but larger, smarter networks and data-exchange between these machines are needed to create new added value.

Research approach

ILVO's role was to help transform and scale-up validated technologies to bring them closer to a market introduction in the food and agricultural sector. This occured through a multi-actor and participative approach, in smaller groups focused on a specific application or use case. Per case a research center, technology producers and critical end-users from the agro-food sector worked together. In one use case we worked on the added value data and data-linkage can bring on a pig farm, with goals like the automated detection of problems in the pens, the creation of insight into slaughtering data and the support of another use case on traceability. In a second use case a GPS trackers for cows was developed. This can be used to locate individual cows or other livestock in nature areas and to monitor their behavior. As a leading partner in IoF2020, ILVO together with Biosense (Serbia) also coordinated the work package that contains all the use cases.

Relevance/Valorization

As a result of the IoF2020 project, smart networks of connected objects that can be identified, monitored and controlled from a distance were applied and validated on a large scale and in real-life circumstances in the agro-food chain. Internet of Things (IoT) can for example be used to optimize the sustainability and quality of meat production, with full transparency and traceability. Another example is in potato farming, where IoT sensors can ensure that the status of the soil, the plants and the climate are monitored continuously and that the collected data can thus be used for better predictions and management decisions. The 33 use cases have led to new insights, and numerous new products and services that are on the market or will be soon. You can find them on www.iof2020.eu.

A lot of work was done to develop innovative IoT technologies that solve challenges or needs of agrifood companies, together with the needs of the whole value chain and the consumers. Next to that, the impact of IoT on the sector was looked into, at technical, economical, ethical and sustainable level. The project generated results that change the way food is produced in Europe, from the field to the plate, and that enhance the competitiveness and excellence of Europe in this domain.