High technology against the effect of climate change on agriculture
With technologies and methods that enable sustainable greenhouse production in the Mediterranean region, a Moncofa laboratory participates in the European SusMedHouse project.
Antalya, Turkey, hosted the first face-to-face gathering of institutions and firms involved in the European Union-funded R&D&I project SusMedHouse (Sustainability Competitiveness of Mediterranean Greenhouse and Intensive Horticulture).
This project, which advances the European strategy of circular economy by aiming at an innovation of systems for the sustainability and competitiveness of the Mediterranean greenhouse, involves seven partners from six countries, including the Spanish company Wola de Moncofa. “SusMedHouse aspires to create sustainable solutions as well as scientific and technological advancements that promote probable future growth in the field of horticulture in the Mediterranean,” Wola CEO Teófilo Dez-Caballero adds.
We are working to help overcome the challenges of climate change in agriculture in this area, which, in addition to resource scarcity, pollution, desertification, crop degradation, population growth, and biodiversity loss, among other things, necessitate urgent investment in improving productivity, agricultural efficiency, and sustainability, which is why this project is being promoted.
“This project will provide a competitive, environmentally friendly, sustainable, and high-tech greenhouse production that will also promote safe food production throughout the year in the Mediterranean region (MED) by combining high-tech artificial intelligence with innovative applications,” says the Wola laboratory’s director.
Specific goals include increasing greenhouse production quantity and quality, as well as efficiency, by at least 20%; developing new, safer pest and pathogen management methods; optimizing energy, soil, and water resources; avoiding eutrophication; contributing to agriculture’s circular economy and bringing sustainability; and developing automated ecological greenhouses.
Three SMEs (AR & TeCS, Wola, and Proteus); two research institutions (Fraunhofer ISE, CNR-Isafom); an agricultural association from Portugal (Avipe); and an end user from Turkey are among the seven partners from six countries (Turkey, Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Egypt).
The Moncofa company Wola (Water On Line Measurement Europe S.L) is involved in the development of new analytical technologies based on “microbial biosensors” that will allow continuous analysis of water quality features used in greenhouses in an automated manner. “The irrigation water’s toxicity, the amount of organic stuff dissolved in it, and the concentration of microbes are all investigated.” Simultaneously, physicochemical parameters such as pH, conductivity, turbidity, and others are examined. “This technique is a world first since it permits parameters to be measured in less time and at a lower cost.” “With this, it will be regulated continuously, automatically, and in situ if the irrigation water used is suitable or not for each type of crop, and if it is not at any moment, irrigation may be discontinued, avoiding crop and harvest damage,” he says.
Wola’s method can be used in a variety of domains besides agriculture, including “environmental health, fish farms, hydroponic crops, wastewater treatment plants and drinking water treatment plants, toxic discharges caused by industries, wetlands protection, and so on,” he concludes.
“Improve agricultural production” is needed in the Mediterranean.
By 2050, the world’s population is predicted to exceed 9 billion people, resulting in increased food demand while agricultural production declines. Between 1970 and 2000, arable land in the Mediterranean region (MED) declined from 0.38 hectares (ha) per person to 0.23 ha per person, with a projected reduction of 0.15 ha by 2050, according to project engineers.
Agriculture is a significant economic sector for much of the MED population, both in terms of employment and income. “It employs 20-30% of the population in most southern MED nations (Morocco, Egypt, Turkey, and Tunisia).” “This potential can be harnessed with a large economic effect if appropriate breeding procedures are used,” they say.
The MED region’s food production is insufficient to feed its population. As a result of climate change, these countries face similar issues connected to topographical factors that reduce agricultural output. By 2050, they expect a temperature increase of 2 to 4°C and a decline in rainfall of 4 to 30%, according to their predictions.
These difficulties necessitate investments in productivity enhancement, agricultural efficiency, and long-term sustainability, all of which are being promoted through the EU-funded Susmedhouse greenhouse project.
Article Author Gerluxe Image: Susmedhouse