By 2050, the global human population will grow to 10 billion. At the same time, resources are getting scarce: due to a mixture of factors like population growth and climate change, arable land is dwindling. Urbanization means that cities spread into the countryside and agricultural laborers, in turn, move to the cities, leaving rural areas short on labor. The UN estimates that, also by 2050, about half of the human population will be affected by water shortages. At the same time resources are needed to feed the growing population while using land optimally and not wasting too much water on irrigation.
Food production needs applicable innovations – fast
Food security has an enormous impact on both people and economies. It is therefore no surprise that a lot of research and development is currently going into the topic of sustainable future food production. Solutions are needed as soon as possible. The R&D project AGRARSENSE[i] is funded by the EU as well as national funding agencies of the participating countries. Launched in January 2023, it brings together 52 partners from 15 EU countries. Together, they are developing technologies in electronic components and systems to increase agricultural and forestry-related productivity and sustainability.
Seven use cases present different angles on today’s European agriculture and forestry: greenhouses, vertical farming, precision viticulture, agriculture robotics, forestry machinery, optimal soil management and fertilization, and agriculture-related water management.
TTControl to contribute “central nervous system” of mobile machinery
TTControl, a joint venture of TTTech and HYDAC International, will participate in the forestry and agricultural robotics use cases. “TTControl will work on a central computing platform for agriculture and mobile machinery,” says Martijn Rooker, Innovation Projects and Funding Manager at TTTech. “This platform will act as the central nervous system of these machines, enabling them to collect data from all available sensors on the machine and host applications. The data thus collected can serve to optimize the behaviors of the systems under test.” In practice, this will allow mobile machines, such as tractors or harvesters, to collect data from their environment, which they can use to optimize resources like water, fertilizer, or herbicide.
What will the project contribute in the long term? “By 2030, the new technologies developed in AGRARSENSE are expected to generate 250 million euros in new turnover for the participating companies,” says Peter Assarsson from Komatsu Forest AB in Sweden, the overall coordinator of the project. “In addition, the project aims to develop 49 new products, 80 new partnerships, hundreds of new jobs, and additional investments,” he adds.
[i] AGRARSENSE receives funding from the European Horizon Europe research and innovation programme, KDT Joint Undertaking (grant agreement no. 101095835) and from the Italian Ministry of Economic Development (MISE funding).