Josip Juraj Strossmayer University of Osijek, Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Computer Science and Information Technology Osijek
Gauss Ltd. for IT and Marketing Services, Osijek
Fund: European Regional Development Fund
Operational programme: Competitiveness and Cohesion 2014 - 2020
Strengthening research, technological development and innovation, call code: KK.01.1.1.07.
21 December 2020 – 21 December 2023 (36 months)
Cooperating with the scientific community, IT companies and agricultural sector, the project aims to develop an expert system as a base for the development of technological solutions for smart production based on the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence in order to make timely decisions in the process of producing and processing agricultural crops in closed, controlled conditions. Accordingly, the specific objectives of the project are as follows:
a) development of the expert system that will enable technological solutions for managing the production and food processing;
b) technology transfer between the research organisation and partner;
c) dissemination of research and development results;
d) protection of intellectual property resulting from research and development.
The success of growing individual agricultural crops depends on external factors related to climate and atmospheric conditions, soil composition, humidity, light intensity, etc., as well as individual culture, its resistance and ability to adapt to external conditions that deviate from the usual ones. Considering the significant climate and weather disasters that farmers have been facing in the last few years and, at the same time, the growing number of inhabitants that creates an increased demand for food, future agricultural production should develop in the direction of introducing new technologies and improving production conditions in closed spaces.
One of the increasingly prevalent trends in the improvement of agricultural production is "Smart Agriculture", which implies the introduction of advanced information and communication technologies in agricultural production aiming to use resources in a more precise and an efficient way. The implementation of technological solutions based on the Internet of Things, networking of various devices and people and the analysis of big data can potentially help farmers produce more yields with less damage to crops and fewer inputs such as water, fuel and fertiliser. In Croatia, the implementation of those technological solutions is poorly represented.
The problem often stems from the lack of a multidisciplinary approach in solving problems by applying the principles of smart agriculture. While farmers do not possess adequate IT knowledge or are able to keep up with the latest technological trends, IT experts, on the other hand, do not possess sufficient knowledge in agronomy to engage in the development of appropriate innovative solutions.
Consequently, it is of utmost importance to specialise in relevant skills because the principles of automation, digitisation and robotics that are applied in industrial processes are not applicable or are more difficult to apply in agricultural production and processing of agricultural products.
This project will enable applying IT solutions, in this case the specialised expert system, in the automation of the production process of those agricultural products that are produced in closed (controlled) conditions.
The development of the expert system will set up fundamental technological assumptions and guidelines for the development of IT solutions intended to improve the production process in closed spaces with the following possibilities:
constant monitoring of the agricultural production process in closed spaces;
recognising unfavourable factors for the production process at an early stage;
establishing an alarm system based on the interdependence identification of all available data;
predicting and classifying by using neural network models, i.e. artificial intelligence.
The project will enable the development of the expert system that will take into account all factors important for future technological solutions and their application in smart food production based on the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence and digitisation of communication and production procedures with the aim of making timely and appropriate decisions in the process of production and processing of agricultural crops.
The introduction of advanced information technologies in food production is motivated by an increase of the crops amount per unit area and optimisation of resources used in production while maintaining the qualitative specifics of individual agricultural crops. Consequently, an increase in the crop quantity and/or the product quality will have a significant positive impact on the production efficiency and profitability, and thus on the producer’s market position.
This research will focus on cultures that are produced in closed, controlled conditions in order to reduce the risk of external factors’ influence.
The research aims to identify technological settings for the expert system as a starting point for the development of future IT solutions. They will enable simpler final technological solutions adapted to different cultures and producers in order to monitor production, collect data, establish the early warning system, speed up the decision-making process on undertaking appropriate protective and/or corrective activities and automating their execution.
During the project implementation, a system of connecting devices, an automation system and analytical systems will be developed by applying a neural network model, which aims to develop a system of classification and prediction from individual micro-locations.
A system of early warning in wine production will be developed. The purpose of such system will be to create optimal conditions for increasing their quality and quantity, which will ultimately result in significant improvements compared to currently available incomplete solutions.
The aforementioned solution will contain the basic expert system that, through upgrading and adapting, will enable the principles of smart agriculture to other crops produced in closed spaces (greenhouses, tunnels, etc.) through the collection or input of data specific to a particular culture.
This expert system will enable significantly simpler and more cost-effective future technological solutions for managing the production and food processing in closed conditions. It will contain a basic software solution and technological guidelines for adaptation that will give insights to programmers, who usually have no experience in agricultural production, into the logic of monitoring and managing the production and food processing in order to facilitate the development of new customised IT solutions.
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