DEMETER will digitally transform Europe’s agri-food sector

A new EU project, DEMETER, under Horizon 2020, is set to digitally transform Europe’s agri-food sector and support vibrant rural areas. The DEMETER Project is a large-scale deployment of farmer centric, interoperable, smart farming-IoT based platforms. DEMETER will show how field and plant sensors, weather stations, monitoring and control devices will help support sustainable and safe farming and food production systems into the future. Through its multi-actor approach, the future farming programme is also set to improve farmer wellbeing and generally support farmers in precision decision making.

This €17 million programme, funded by the European Commission, will involve 25 deployment sites, 6,000 farmers and over 38,000 devices and sensors, spanning 318,000 hectares in 18 countries, 15 of these EU states. It includes 60 partners and together, they will run 20 different pilot programmes across five agricultural sectors.

Participants involved come from different production sectors, among the dairy, meat, vegetables, fruit and arable crops; production systems, conventional and organic, and different farm sizes and types, optimising the data analysis obtained across multiple farms.

Big names in world farming such as John Deere are on board and one of the core partners in the World Farmers Organisation. An open call for interested farmers, technology solution providers and other interested parties will be launched next year. It will have a €1 million budget.

DEMETER will demonstrate the real-life potential of advanced interoperability in the Internet of Things (IoT) technologies across the value chain in multiple agri-food operational environments, involving different production sectors, production systems and farm sizes.

Through this initiative, the project will demonstrate how an integrated approach to business, behaviour and technology can support farmers and the sector. It provides further opportunities, including new business models on the farm and in the wider agri-food economy, while also helping to safeguard Europe’s precious natural resources.

DEMETER will monitor plant and animal products during their life cycle from farm to fork, increasing on-farm profitability, lowering farming’s ecological footprint and decreasing the use of natural resources.

Data gleaned will be shared, thus supporting new business opportunities for viable, sustainable rural communities.

DEMETER has very specific objectives. These include:

• Analysing, adopting and enhancing existing (and if necessary, introduce new) Information Models in the agri-food sector easing data sharing and interoperability across multiple Internet of Things (IOT) and Farming Management Information Systems (FMIS) and associated technologies. Use the information models to create a basis for trusted sharing / exposure of data between farmers.

• Building knowledge exchange mechanisms, delivering an Interoperability Space for the agri-food domain, presenting technologies and data from different vendors, ensuring their interoperability, and using (and enhancing) a core set of open standards (adopted across all agri-food deployments thereby) coupled with carefully-planned security and privacy protection mechanisms (also addressing business confidentiality).

• Empowering the farmer, as a prosumer, to gain control in the data-food-chain by identifying and demonstrating a series of new IoT-based, data-driven, business models for profit, collaboration and co-production for farmers and across the value chain, leading to disruptive new value creation models.

• Establishing a benchmarking mechanism for agriculture solutions and business, targeting end-goals in terms of productivity and sustainability performance of farms, services, technologies, and practices based on a set of key performance indicators that are relevant to the farming community.

• Reversing the relationship with suppliers, through an innovative model in which suppliers are responsible for ensuring that a final solution is optimal to the farmer’s existing context and expressed needs.

• Demonstrating the impact of digital innovations across a variety of sectors and at European level.