Agriculture, Food & Environment

Precision Agriculture, Food & Environment

OnePlanet Research Center develops innovative sensor and digital technology that helps make food production and processing more sustainable. In order to provide enough food for about 10 billion global citizens by the year 2050, the current food production system must change. Smart sensor and digital technology helps food producers to act quickly and adequately and thus to use (scarce) raw materials and labor accurately in the sustainable production of sufficient global food.

What if.. we could develop smart solutions to allow everyone to have access to healthy and sustainable produced food?

More sustainable agriculture and livestock management, in which less use is made of natural resources, such as fertile soil, fertilizers, nutrients, land and water, and where less CO2, ammonia and nitrogen are emitted, requires contemporary solutions.

Chip- and digital technologies

Within the AgriFood domain, OnePlanet develops solutions at the interface of agriculture and food and chip and digital technology. Within the domain, the team works on collecting and combining data on nitrogen emissions, precision agriculture, the greenhouse of the future, food processing and food quality. The fruit sector is also connected to OnePlanet projects by measuring fruit ripeness and soil quality.

OnePlanet does all this with the help of existing and new sensor technologies, which are validated in practice. The combination with data science is essential in this. This makes it possible to identify patterns and insights in precision production and processing. This allows us to adapt crops and production methods to the ever-changing climate conditions. With the help of sensor technologies and the smart combination of data, producers and processors of food can act quickly and precisely at all times in the production chain. The health of individual plants or fruit trees, the presence of diseases or pests and the welfare of individual animals can be monitored and allows the grower and farmer to intervene quickly. This way, we can secure sustainable food production for the generations of the future.

Smart & Sustainable

Adjusting the processes at the right time, in the right place and with the right resources, that’s what it’s all about. A farmer who knows what his soil, plant or animal is short of, can ensure that this shortage is remedied. Due to the measurements, timely adjustments can be made and losses or overdosing can be prevented. Innovative measurements also enable the farmer to precisely monitor when his crop is ready for harvest.

The target? Taking up less space, using less water, less labor, less chemicals, etc. and thus making a huge leap forward to make our system more effective and sustainable at the same time. In short, by measuring and analyzing, we can produce smarter and more sustainable food. By also applying smart sensor technology after the harvest during, for example, the transport, storage or industrial preparation of products, specific quality characteristics can be maintained and the freshness or quantity of ingredients can be guaranteed. In this way, a larger quantity of high-quality, fresh and high-quality food reaches the consumer and prevents waste.

Dutch knowledge for a global impact

OnePlanet is looking into developing autonomous systems to export Dutch agriculture expertise. In the future we would not have to send bell peppers to the United States, but we send the autonomous system with Dutch expertise.  This way, the bell peppers can be produced with the same quality, while using, for example, minimal energy, water and chemicals. By doing this, we are able to take out the element of cross-continental export which would benefit the environment and thus the planet greatly. Solutions like this can also allow us to start growing agriculture produce in places where the soil is less fertile and that often face food shortages. It will allow us to take local innovations to a global scale. Besides this example, OnePlanet is exploring a range of options to shorten value chains to reduce waste, energy and other resources.

Imagine that in every greenhouse, every orchard, every field, the same quality is being produced. Imagine that farmers have insights into how they can produce better crops or products and how they can successfully invest to make their farm future-proof!

Collaboration

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

OnePlanet Research center works closely with various stakeholders, such as farmers, food producers, processors, technology companies and consumers. Together we form an ecosystem in which we discuss “with precision” where the greatest opportunities and needs lie. Because only by working together can we achieve impact!

Sub-themes

The following sub-themes fall under the Agri & Food domain.

Autonomous Farming

In this program, existing and new sensor technology is integrated into usable prototypes in agriculture and horticulture.

Digitization of agriculture and horticulture is essential in order to produce food sustainably with less use of raw materials and less adverse effects on the environment. In agriculture, more natural cultivation systems require far-reaching refinement of the actions performed by a farmer.

In horticulture, innovative vegetable flats even require completely autonomous cultivation systems. Combinations of sensors, smart data and “the internet of things” will soon provide the necessary information with which these modern cultivation systems can be controlled.

 

Food Factory of the Future

Deployment of new sensor and digital technology, which generate real-time insights in the food processing process and the food supply chain. Exploring relevant sensor technology applications for food processing and the food supply chain, which lead to an increase in the quality of food and a more sustainable food production.

Creating a digital twin of a food processing process and the logistics chain, especially for vulnerable products, ensures that continuous insights are generated during the logistics process and adjustments are made if necessary. As a result, more food and food of better quality reaches the end user, while preventing waste.

Environmental impact

OnePlanet Research Center is working on quantifying the impact of agricultural activity on the environment and nature, by means of fine-meshed sensor networks.

We want to enable farmers themselves to measure their impact with user-friendly sensor technology in order to be able to determine their action perspective, for example around nitrogen-limiting measures. “The farmer at the helm”. We focus on nitrogen emissions (both in the air and in water), methane emissions and the influence of increasingly changed climate conditions on soil health and biodiversity.

 

Innovations

The following innovation trajectories are relevant to the Agri & Food domain: