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Start date: Sep 1, 2012, End date: Dec 31, 2015 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Background A major challenge for farmers and farm managers is to produce crop in a more efficient and sustainable way. Pressure on the land is increasing with the growing demand for food, but at the same time, key resources, notably water, are becoming increasingly scarce, and there are also important economic and environmental pressures to reduce the use of fertilisers. An earlier project led by ITGA already developed a simple tool that makes recommendations on farming techniques and practices in order to improve efficiency and sustainability. This tool was tested on specific parcels of land in Navarra and it demonstrated improvements in the efficiency of extensive agriculture. However, its scope is still limited as it only provides recommendations on irrigation and on the use of mineral fertilisers, and it only covers two varieties of crops. Objectives The sigAGROasesor project aims to develop an online tool capable of displaying customised recommendations for extensive agriculture, in real time, and for specific areas of cultivation, on the basis of a series of detailed variables and values. It ultimately seeks to help farmers and farm managers achieve the most efficient and sustainable production of crops. The project aims to further develop an existing decision-support tool for extensive agriculture to incorporate a wider range of variables and crop varieties. The tool will provide recommendations on the following issues: crop varieties; sowing techniques; fertilisation; irrigation; and risk of plagues, diseases and weeds. The success of the tool will be demonstrated on around 600 plots of land in ten different regions. To do this, data on different variables - climate, geo-referenced location, leaching, etc. - will be made available to the users, shown in maps (layers) of information. Maps obtained by using satellite remote-sensing acquired data will be developed and used in the project to demonstrate the capacity to harness all the available technical knowledge. Incorporating weather maps – values and predictions – as an important variable in crop production will be a particular challenge. Farmers will complete the dataset with specific information about their land, including the definition of management farming units. With all this information, the programme will be able to make the required recommendations to achieve a better use of resources. Using four decision-making tools that will be developed within the project, the tool expects to deliver: Security - providing reliable recommendations; Flexibility - in delivering location-specific information and recommendations; Sustainability – improving the sustainable use of resources; Replicability – using free software, which can be used elsewhere; Traceability – enabling better information collection in the agricultural sector. Expected results: An accessible online tool – Geoportal – for extensive agriculture, integrating: o Four decision-support systems (DSS); o Environmental indicators; o A list of variables and procedures; o A database of farmers and pilot plots; o A database of soil analysis in all regions; o Maps of the different areas involved in the project. A good practices guide; A user guide for the tool; A report on the evolution of different environmental indicators; Variety cards of each variety; Better use of resources, especially water and fertilisers.
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