In normal times, agriculture focused on high value crops faces the challenge of improving the profitability whilst also reducing negative environmental impacts. Our use case 3.5 demonstrates that the use of plant protection products can be significantly reduced through IoT enabled air-blast atomising sprayers, adapting automatically to specific field zones as well as individual plant conditions. This Smart Orchard Spray application realises an optimization in the operating efficiency and treatment quality on orchards.
In times of the COVID-19 pandemic, different challenges arise. The impact of COVID-19 on the project consists of a postponement of planned visits to the demo cases in Hungary, Poland and Portugal. These visits are necessary to make measures for the KPI’s, the sprayers and the current efficiency. ‘Since we are all limited in our daily movements, the planned visits for May and June by the Smart Orchard Spray Application team will be postponed to at least September.’, explains team member Ekaterina Ukhandeeva. Agendas needs to be aligned again, but they expect to at least do one trip to each user side. Eventually, it will affect the time schedule, since they had planned to demonstrate the KPIs on the product savings in August and this is not expected to be done by November.
On the other hand, COVID-19 also affects the project in the research and development department. There are less people at work, and the work processes have slowed down. As they have calculated in some buffer time, the final deadline is expected to be met. However, the side tasks will be postponed.
The implementation of the sprayers creates a smart and connected tool in the fields. In this way, it helps farmers to make decisions that are cost saving on the products production (especially in difficult times). As the sprayers are connected, farmers can stay at home and still have the possibility to check what is happening on their fields. A traceability of that status of the fields in the form of data is send to the laptop. This ensures less presence in the field and therewith fewer daily movements. Ekaterina describes that on their Spanish use case they have savings of at least 1 person at the time. Ultimately, a shift in tasks occurs. There will be more work in monitoring the fields and decision-making from a distance, instead of in the field. An additional benefit: there is time created for other tasks since this is also timesaving for the farmers.