From Spain, Thales Alenia Space is leading the project to create a new agricultural recommendation system that will reduce water consumption in crops by up to 25%, the MORERA (system for monitoring efficient irrigation and agricultural yield). A pioneering initiative in this sector that enables the elaboration of personalized irrigation recommendations for each plot and, thanks to artificial intelligence and satellite imagery, enables the water in crops to be reduced by up to 25%. It integrates data from special instruments and from multiple sources (Copernicus, AEMET, etc.) and develops a new generation of compact, miniaturized space instruments for remote sensing.
MORERA proposes a modular system that integrates recommendations for deficit irrigation and yield forecasts to optimize productivity. This means that MORERA will see the light of day in 2023 and is responding to one of the challenges of the call from Mission Science and Innovation, with which the Center for Industrial Technological Development (CDTI) is working) seeks solutions to problems with a high social impact through innovative technologies .
The aim of the call is to contribute to the development of five missions that are highly relevant to the future challenges of Spain and in line with some of the sustainable development goals proposed by the United Nations in the 2030 Agenda. With 11% of GDP, agriculture is the first national industry, and the call has identified the development of a more sustainable and healthier agricultural and food sector, and in particular reducing the consumption of water, nutrients and pesticides, as a priority.
Pioneering project in irrigation and agricultural yield monitoring with new spatial sensors
MORERA’s comprehensive system ensures that the data provides the end user with added value ranging from the sensor to the harvest, thanks to new artificial intelligence techniques applied to remote sensing and other data sources, proposing a new generation of miniaturized instruments for the Remote sensing in all areas. Ribbons starting with thermal infrared. The full use of these solutions will demonstrate the technology’s potential to reduce water use in annual and perennial crops and the ability to make more accurate crop predictions throughout the harvest cycle.
MORERA is the first project for a package recommendation system (not just cards) based on new remote sensing instruments and on data from Copernicus programmatic satellites processed with artificial intelligence algorithms. It is also a pioneering project in Europe using thermal infrared to calculate evapotranspiration and water stress, which can be used to manage deficit irrigation.
Thanks to MORERA, farmers can use precision agriculture cost-effectively with a system that enables them to regularly measure the crop and provide them with personalized fertilization recommendations and yield forecasts based on artificial intelligence and big data algorithms. This integrated approach represents a step forward in the options currently available in the market that address the sector’s resource management needs in the context of climate change.
In this line, MORERA will investigate new algorithms for processing remote sensing images with automatic learning in order to optimize farmers’ decisions: recommendations in deficit irrigation scenarios and forecasting of crop yields.
New generation of miniaturized instruments for remote sensing
Since this system requires data that is optimized for agricultural use and short update times, MORERA will also go further in the field of remote sensing in order to generate miniaturized and compact optical instruments with a combined size and resolution ratio that is not yet available is available. This is achieved through the use of freeform geometries in spatial optics systems, which reduces the size and cost of the system. These combined elements, not found in any currently operational instrument, must be compatible with small satellites and Cubesat constellations in order to minimize development time and costs by increasing the versatility of the system (constellations that increase repetition and / or coverage , Extrapolation to other applications or inclusion of new detection tapes, etc.).
The MORERA consortium covers the entire value chain, with technology partners like LIDAX and ASEOPTICS, system experts like Thales Alenia Space and reaching agricultural end users with companies like TEPRO. Each industrial partner is accompanied by a leading national and European public research organization (OPI), such as the National Institute of Aerospace Technology (INTA), the Institute for Sustainable Agriculture (IAS-CSIC) and the University of Valencia (UV). Led in this project by Jos Antonio Sobrino, Principal Investigator of the project, and Jaume I Award for his use of remote sensing for environmental protection.
Thales Alenia Space Espaa leads this consortium and in collaboration with TEPRO and the IAS will be responsible for the definition of the overall system, the algorithm for artificial intelligence as well as for the definition and integration of the new thermal infrared instruments in collaboration with LIDAX, ASEOPTICS, INTA and UV, responsible for the integration and final testing of the global system prototype.
The project with a total budget of 5.33 million euros, of which the CDTI is subsidizing 3.84 million euros, was officially launched in Tres Cantos on December 18, 2020. The final results will be presented to end users and the public in a workshop scheduled for the second half of 2023.
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