AIRS: the project that brings agriculture and innovation together.
The climate change increasingly leads to a higher incidence of extreme events, which in Portugal has resulted in more storms in winter, hotter summers, and longer periods of drought. One way to mitigate climate change is the transition to more sustainable farming methods, with the main objective of a conscious use of natural and synthetic resources, to reduce environmental impact and optimise production costs. The conscious use of these resources can be achieved by adopting Agriculture 4.0 tools, such as digitalisation, artificial intelligence, and precision agriculture.
The AIRS project (Agriculture Innovation using Remote Sensing) aims to combine the areas of artificial intelligence and remote sensing to create a technological solution to monitor plant health in the case of vines, using satellite images obtained by the European Space Agency (ESA). This project will have as main innovation point the use of high spatial resolution images (acquired by Unmanned Aerial Vehicles - UAVs) to increase the resolution of images coming from the Sentinel-2 satellite, using artificial intelligence. Thus, by providing information on - when and where - plants need water and nutrients, AIRS will allow an efficient optimization and management of agricultural resources in the vineyard (water and nutrients), which, in turn, will lead to a greater resilience to variations in weather conditions (more frequent due to climate change). The results will be made available and integrated into a digital service platform for Portugal, providing farmers with an effective way to monitor the health of their crops.
Featuring a partnership between the company TeroMovigo, the University of Beira Interior (UBI) and the Food4sustainability Collaborative Laboratory (F4S CoLAB), the AIRS project was approved by the PROMOVE "la caixa" programme in October 2022. TeroMovigo is the coordinating entity of the project and is responsible for the execution of the observations with the drones over the vineyards to be studied. In addition, it will help UBI to develop the super-resolution methodology and to prepare the satellite images in collaboration with F4S CoLAB. The Department of Informatics at UBI will be responsible for the development of the super-resolution method for satellite images, using high-resolution images obtained with drones to train deep neural networks. In addition, it will supervise the work of identifying the plants in the new images and will evaluate the vegetative indices calculated for these images. The F4S CoLAB will be the main interface with the agricultural community. Under this project, F4S will organise regular campaigns to make in-situ measurements that will be used to validate the vegetative indices calculated from the satellite images. In addition, F4S will assist in dissemination and knowledge transfer by organising workshops and field days to disseminate the project results to the community. The study area of the project will be provided by Adega Cooperativa de Pinhel, with the co-participation of its associates.
TeroMovigo was founded in 2017 in the field of geodesy and geomatics, being in Instituto Pedro Nunes, Coimbra since 2021. TeroMovigo is a company that combines scientific knowledge with field experience and focuses on the development and implementation of optimal solutions for clients. TeroMovigo has a large experience in the management and execution of technical-scientific projects and integrated hardware solutions for Geo-applications using drone and satellite technologies. TeroMovigo's multidisciplinary team has executed significant projects in Portugal (e.g., Setubal Port Authority, Macedo de Cavaleiros Town Council) and internationally (e.g. Bhutan, Comoros, Mongolia, Mozambique, Nigeria, Seychelles, Qatar).
About the University of Beira Interior
The University of Beira Interior (UBI) is a public university located in the city of Covilhã, Portugal. It was created in 1979 and is currently one of the Portuguese academies in evident expansion, reaching the status of academy that receives students from all regions of the country, joined by international students from dozens of nationalities. UBI welcomes more than 8 thousand students, distributed across five faculties - Arts and Letters, Sciences, Health Sciences, Social Sciences and Humanities, Engineering - and a multiplicity of degree courses, awarding all the degrees in areas ranging from medicine, biochemistry, biomedical sciences and industrial design to aeronautical engineering, fashion design, mathematics, economics, and philosophy.
About Food4Sustainability CoLAB
The Food4Sustainability (F4S) CoLAB is a collaborative laboratory located in Idanha-a-Nova, Portugal, that aims to solve large-scale problems in food systems (e.g., food, fish, algae, vegetables) for climate resilience. The F4S CoLAB is at the forefront of the shift from linear agri-food production processes to circular processes. The aim of F4S CoLAB is to test and implement new approaches in food production systems that positively impact: CO2 mitigation, no use of chemicals, sustainable intensification (maximising land use), preservation of water bodies and environmental impact, and increased efficiency in the food sector value chain.