The Living Lab in the Czech Republic focuses on the use of digital technologies for orchard management to increase the volume and efficiency of fruit harvesting. It also focuses on overall production management and on facilitating reporting obligations. This is a newly established lab with a variety of stakeholders including representatives of small and large fruit farms, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Fruit Growers’ Union of the Czech Republic, and technology experts. The lab currently has one demo farm that will install, evaluate, and test various types of sensors for crop protection, remote control of the irrigation system, frost and pollination monitoring, and an end-user application for the farmer. The lab is also planning to have a demo farm with very advanced technology installed.
The main objective is to improve the time efficiency of agronomic work depending on the type of fruit and the environmental situation, to increase the production of the growers while reducing costs and reducing the negative impact on the environment, such as using water and fertilisers sparingly and reducing the use of pesticides and alleviating the reporting burden.
Small orchard farms usually do not collect accurate sensor data, and large farms often measure with inaccurate sensors. In some cases, the problem is the lack of spectrum or volume of data measured (in terms of time and geography). Where data exists, the lack of effective data processing and decision support tools for agronomic interventions and agro management is a major problem.
Farmers, members of non-profit organisations, policymakers, and agricultural advisors are working with technology suppliers and researchers to evaluate technologies that will help small orchard farms establish automation of irrigation and monitoring of climatic conditions in the orchard while achieving:
● savings in water and pesticide use
● reduction of the impact of adverse weather on crops
● reduction of negative impact on the environment, and
● improved efficiency regarding reporting obligations.
The Living Lab focuses on technological innovation in orchard management using various sensors, weather monitoring stations as well as very advanced and complex digital systems providing data processing and decision support tools.