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Final SRA 'Common Basis for policy making for introduction of innovative approaches on data exchange in agri-food industry'

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In our networked society, standards play an important role. That is especially the case in exchanging digital data. With “Standards” we refer to the protocols that describe how data (in so called ‘metadata’) and the data-exchange are defined to make a digital exchange of data between two devices (often computers but also computer-machine interaction) possible. Such standards enable interoperability of data, information and knowledge between systems – they ensure compatibility. Standards can reduce choice but the big advantage is that they reduce transaction costs to share data and promote competition (users can easily change suppliers as they are not ‘locked in’ to complete systems). That means they can also support innovation, although the wide use of a standard can also block progress to something better.
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network for data exchange in agriculture
Final SRA ‘Common
Basis for policy making
for introduction of
innovative approaches
on data exchange in
agri-food industry’
Final Strategic Research Agenda (SRA):
Common Basis for policy
making for the introduction of innovative
approaches to data exchange in the agri-
food industry
Karel Charvat, Sarka Horakova, Sjaak Wolfert, Henri Holster, Otto Schmid, Liisa
Pesonen, Daniel Martini, Esther Mietzsch, Tomas Mildorf (WP5)
28. 11. 2012
Final
D 5.2.
agriXchange is funded by the European Commission’s 7
th
Framework Programme, Contract no. 244957
About the agriXchange project
agriXchange is a EU-funded project and it is a coordination and support action to setup a
network for developing a system for common data exchange in the agricultural sector.
Project summary
Within the knowledge-based bio-economy, information sharing is an important issue. In agri-food
business, this is a complex issue because many aspects and dimensions play a role. An installed
base of information systems lack standardisation, which hampers efficient exchange of information.
This leads to inefficient business processes and hampers adoption of new knowledge and
technology. The exchange of information at whole chain or network level is poorly organised.
Although arable and livestock farming have their own specific needs, there are many similarities in
the need for an integrated approach. Spatial data increasingly plays an important role in agriculture.
The overall objective of this project is to coordinate and support the setting up of a sustainable
network for developing a system for common data exchange in agriculture. This will be achieved by:
ï
establishing a platform on data exchange in agriculture in the EU;
ï
developing a reference framework for interoperability of data exchange;
ï
identifying the main challenges for harmonising data exchange.
First, an in-depth analysis and investigation of the state-of-the art in EU member states will be carried
out. A platform is built up that facilitates communication and collaborative working groups, that work
on several, representative use cases, guided by an integrative reference framework. The framework
consists of a sound architecture and infrastructure based on a business process modeling approach
integrating existing standards and services. The development is done in close interaction with
relevant stakeholders through the platform and international workshops. The results converge into a
strategic research agenda that contains a roadmap for future developments.
Project consortium:
ï
Wageningen University & Research Center (LEI, LSR, Alterra) - The Netherlands
ï
KuratoriumfürTechnikundBauwesen in der Landwirtschaft (KTBL) - Germany
ï
MTT Agrifood Research - Finland
ï
Wireless Info (WRLS) - Czech Republic
ï
Institut de l’Elevage (ELEV) - France
ï
Institut de RecercaiTecnologiaAgroalimentàries (IRTA) - Spain
ï
Teagasc - Ireland
ï
Universität Rostock-Germany
ï
ForschungsinstitutfürBiologischenLandbau (FIBL) - Switzerland
ï
Altavia - Italy
ï
Poznan University of Life Sciences (PULS) - Poland
ï
ACTA Informatique - France
ï
Progis software - Austria
More information:
Dr. Sjaak Wolfert (coordinator) e-mail: sjaak.wolfert@wur.nl
LEI Wageningen UR phone: +31 317 485 939
P.O. Box 35 mobile: +31 624 135 790
6700 AA Wageningen www.agriXchange.eu
The Netherlands info@agriXchange.eu
Final SRA
3
Table of Contents
Figures and Tables ............................................................................................................................... 5
Abbreviations ........................................................................................................................................ 6
Executive Summary .............................................................................................................................. 7
Synthetic Summary ............................................................................................................................. 12
1Introduction .................................................................................................................................. 19
1.1Background and scope ....................................................................................................... 19
1.2Problem .............................................................................................................................. 19
1.3Objectives of study ............................................................................................................. 20
1.4Approach and outline .......................................................................................................... 20
2ICT for Agriculture Interoperability ............................................................................................... 22
2.1Data, information and knowledge ....................................................................................... 22
2.2Standardisation need for the agriculture sector .................................................................. 23
2.3Interoperability on farm level .............................................................................................. 24
3Standardisation ............................................................................................................................ 25
3.1Current standardisation initiatives ...................................................................................... 25
3.1.1ISO ................................................................................................................................. 25
3.1.2W3C ............................................................................................................................... 25
3.1.3OASIS ............................................................................................................................ 25
3.1.4OGC ............................................................................................................................... 25
3.1.5IEEE ............................................................................................................................... 25
3.1.6VDMA – ISOBUS ........................................................................................................... 26
3.1.7agroXML ......................................................................................................................... 26
3.1.8INSPIRE ......................................................................................................................... 26
3.2agriXchange results ............................................................................................................ 26
3.3Conclusion .......................................................................................................................... 27
4Overview of past activities............................................................................................................ 29
4.1Aforo ................................................................................................................................... 29
4.2Rural Wins .......................................................................................................................... 31
4.3Valencia Declaration ........................................................................................................... 33
4.4eRural Brussels conference conclusions ............................................................................ 35
4.5Prague Declaration ............................................................................................................. 36
4.6aBard vision ........................................................................................................................ 37
4.7ami@netfood Strategic Research Agenda ......................................................................... 38
4.8The vision on the future value chain for 2016 by the Global Commerce Initiative .............. 39
4.9Study on Availability of Access to Computer Networks in Rural Areas .............................. 40
4.10The research agenda of the European Platform for Food for Life ...................................... 41
4.11Future Farm vision .............................................................................................................. 41
4.12The Research Agenda and the Action Plan by the Technology Platform for Organic Food
and Farming..................................................................................................................................... 47
4.13The third SCAR Foresight exercise .................................................................................... 48
4
Final SRA
4.14Cologne declaration ............................................................................................................ 49
4.15Vision, Strategic Research Agenda and Third Implementation Action Plan (2009) of the
European Agriculture Machinery Industry (Subplatform AET of the Technology Platform
MANUFUTURE................................................................................................................................ 51
4.16ICT Agri Eranet ................................................................................................................... 51
4.17agriXchange analysis of data exchange in agriculture in the EU27 & Switzerland ............ 53
4.18Conclusions from the overview of past activities ................................................................ 56
5Future Trends in ICT - Future Internet, Open Data and Open Source ........................................ 58
5.1ICT vision of Future Internet ............................................................................................... 58
5.1.1c@r ................................................................................................................................. 58
5.1.2COIN IP .......................................................................................................................... 59
5.1.3FI-WARE ........................................................................................................................ 60
5.1.4SmartAgriFood ............................................................................................................... 61
5.1.5agINFRA ......................................................................................................................... 62
5.2Open Source Software (OSS) ............................................................................................ 63
5.2.1Open Data ...................................................................................................................... 64
5.3Conclusion from Future Trends .......................................................................................... 65
6Future challenges for ICT for Agri-food ........................................................................................ 67
6.1Why are the challenges important ...................................................................................... 67
6.2Political and organisational challenges ............................................................................... 68
6.3Technological, innovation and research challenges ........................................................... 69
7Application Research domain for Agriculture, Food, Rural development and Environment ........ 71
8ICT Technologies for agri-food and rural regions......................................................................... 75
9SRA for standardisation in agri-food data, information and knowledge ....................................... 79
9.1Conclusion from SRA for standardisation ........................................................................... 87
10Recommendations for long-term agriXchange sustainability.................................................. 88
10.1Challenge 1 ........................................................................................................................ 88
10.2Challenge 2 ........................................................................................................................ 89
10.3Challenge 3 ........................................................................................................................ 89
10.4Challenge 4 ........................................................................................................................ 90
10.5Challenge 5 ........................................................................................................................ 90
References .......................................................................................................................................... 91
Final SRA
5
Figures and Tables
Figure 1 Schema of the challenges that influence the SRA ................................................................ 14
Table 1 Matrix of relation between Challenges and Applications research Domain ........................... 15
Table 2 Matrix of dependencies between Applications domain and ICT development priorities ....... 16
Figure 2 The Data-Information-Knowledge-Wisdom hierarchy of Ackoff [3] ....................................... 22
Figure 3 Schematic overview of relationships between farm management and its environment (from
Sörensen et al [6]) ............................................................................................................................... 24
Figure 4 The AFORO road mapping methodology ............................................................................. 30
Figure 5 Framework of the Rural Wins project to describe ICT requirements and issues for rural and
maritime areas. ................................................................................................................................... 32
Figure 6 Exchange of knowledge’s cross different levels of farm management ................................. 42
Figure 7 C@R Reference architecture ................................................................................................ 59
Figure 8 Future Internet Cloud Layers ................................................................................................ 60
Figure 9 The 5-start deployment scheme for Open Data [65] ............................................................. 65
Figure 10 Two factors that define the long-term sustainability of agriXchange ................................... 67
Figure 11 Four chains of influence ...................................................................................................... 68
Table 3 Matrix of relation between Challenges and Applications research Domain ........................... 72
Table 4 Matrix of dependencies between Applications domain and ICT development priorities ........ 76
Table 5 Agri-food standardisation needs on different level of Data-Information-Knowledge hierarchy
for different ICT Research Domains .................................................................................................... 80
6
Final SRA
Abbreviations
CAP Common agricultural policy
DG Directorate-General of the European Commission
DG REGIO Directorate General for Regional Policy
Digital Agenda A Digital Agenda for Europe
EFITA European Federation for Information Technology in Agriculture, Food and the
Environment
eRural IP eRural Integrated Project
FAO Food and Agriculture Organisation
FP7 Seventh Framework Programme
FI-PPP Future Internet Public-Private Partnership
GIS Geographic information system
HTTP Hypertext Transfer Protocol
i2010 A European Information Society for growth and employment
ICT Information and communication technology
INFITA International Network for Information Technology in Agriculture
KBBE Knowledge-Based Bio-Economy
LEADER European Community Initiative for assisting rural communities in improving the
quality of life and economic prosperity in their local area
PR Public relations
IoT Internet of Things
IPR Intellectual Property Rights
OSGeo Open Source Geospatial Foundation
OSI Open Source Initiative
OSS Open Source Software
RDF Resource Description Framework
RFID Radio Frequency Identification RT&D
RTD Research and Technology Development
SLA Service Level Agreement
SMEs Small and medium-sized enterprises
SWG Special Working Groups
SRA Strategic Research Agenda
URI Uniform Resource Identifier
WLAN Wireless local area network
WIMAX Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access
WTO World Trade Organization
XML Extensible Markup Language
Final SRA
7
Executive Summary
In our networked society, standards play an important role. That is especially the case in exchanging
digital data. With Standards we refer to the protocols that describe how data (in so called ‘meta-
data’) and the data-exchange are defined to make a digital exchange of data between two devices
(often computers but also computer-machine interaction) possible. Such standards enable
interoperability of data, information and knowledge between systems – they ensure compatibility.
Standards can reduce choice but the big advantage is that they reduce transaction costs to share
data and promote competition (users can easily change suppliers as they are not ‘locked in’ to
complete systems). That means they can also support innovation, although the wide use of a
standard can also block progress to something better.
Standardisation (the process of setting standards) can be a problematic process. Some standards
arise automatically in the market, for instance because somebody introduces an exemplary new
product that gets a large market share (the PDF format for published documents is an example). In
other cases newcomers to the market have a big incentive to support interoperability to win market
share (e.g. MS Word supports the use of WordPerfect files). However, often it is not that easy.
New products are not always developed with standardisation in mind, which can lead to path
dependency (as is shown in the debate if the QWERTY key pad was and is still optimal). In some
cases there have been fierce debates if a certain product standard that wins in the market, is really
optimal (e.g. in video recording between the technical advanced BETAMAX and the VHS that could
record a full football match). A standard can also lead to a monopolistic position of a product, but also
a clever use or a lack of standards can lead to unbalanced market situations (Shapiro and Varian,
1999)
1
.
Where there is not a guarantee that good standards arise automatically, they have to be created. As
many benefit from a standard, and a standard has positive externalities, free rider behaviour and
underinvestment is not unthinkable. There is an organisational challenge to create and maintain
standards.
Often this challenge is taken up by industry organisations, especially standard setting organisations
that have clear, open procedures for that activity. For instance, in Dutch agriculture specific
organisations (like AgroConnect) financed by industry membership fees set standards for specific
EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) messages in agriculture, after developing with industry partners
and research. In Germany KTBL plays a similar role concerning AgroXML. In food-retail the barcode
is an important standard, originally developed by Albert Heijn (now Ahold) in the 1970s and proposed
to colleague-retailers. Currently GS1 maintains such standards. Some standards are set by
governments, e.g. in the framework of UN/CEFACT. In some cases such standards are regulated to
be obligatory, or are obligatory in data exchange with the government (Blind, 2004)
2
.
agriXchange
It is against this background that agriXchange established a network of persons and organisations for
developing a system for common data exchange in the agricultural sector. This report provides a
strategic research agenda (SRA) for future work on data exchange and standards. The objective of
1
C. Shapiro and H. Varian: The Art of Standard Wars in: California Management Review, 41-2, 1999
2
K. Blind: The Economics of Standards: theory, evidence, policy. Edgar Elgar, 2004
8
Final SRA
the SRA is to identify major challenges related to data exchange and the use of standards identified
mainly in the agriculture sector but also the agri-food industry sector.
The development of standards is based on data-models that describe the data that has to be
exchange and in a way that ensures the compatibility with the data systems at both ends of the
transfer. agriXchange investigated some cases to build a reference model for the standard setting
process itself, and implemented a practical model tool (aXTool) in the agriXchange platform to
search for and develop standards.
Future ICT use as demand for standards
To promote future standard setting in agriculture it is important to have an idea on the future use of
ICT. A review of the literature concludes that the deployment of ICT infrastructure for (standardised)
data exchange in Europe is progressing very fast. A large part of the population in Europe has the
possibility to access broadband or has permanent access to the Internet (the bandwidth is usually
lower for rural regions than for cities). However the actual use is much lower than the potential, and
especially agriculture and the rural areas are behind in the uptake of this technology. In many cases
application priorities are the same as 10 years ago. A big problem in going forward is the data,
information and knowledge exchange and interoperability. The uptake of new ICT interoperable
technologies in primary production, which will be accepted by farming sector, is an important part of
our SRA.
Our analysis learns that the last decade there is low sustainability of ICT related agri-food research
and little exchange of experiences among projects. Often similar analyses with similar results are
provided, but overall progress is slow. To overcome this problem, it is necessary to support a long-
term suitability of ICT research and to support a long-time vision for RTD development in the agri-
food sector.
We also conclude that better and faster implementation of ICT and related RTD demand more
appropriate business model thinking in addition to the current technical focus. Better and faster
implementation would also be supported by a strong professional (international) organisation which
unifies different efforts of different ICT research and development groups, but which will be also able
to protect interests of communities. The candidate for such an organisation could be the European
Federation for Information Technology in Agriculture, Food and the Environment (EFITA,) but it will
be necessary to change its organisational structure.
It is important to renew dialogues for politicians to focus on ICT for rural regions as part of Horizon
2020 activities. It is not only important to support standardisation awareness, but also deployment of
new solutions necessary for rural regions. Currently, ICT for agri-food is not covered on a large scale.
It is It is important to renew dialogues with politicians to focus on ICT for rural regions as part of
Horizon 2020 activities.
Due to the global character of agriculture and food production and also because agriculture
production influences and is influenced by the environment, it is important to improve dialogue and
transfer of ICT knowledge between developed and developing countries.
The latest ICT research trends, cover three aspects: Future Internet, Open Source Software and
Open Data. Future Internet (mainly cloud computing) and Open Source Software, show two
important developments:
Interoperability and service-oriented architecture, which allows easy replacement of one
component or service by another one. This concept is already currently broadly used in
geographic information systems.
Final SRA
9
Support for large-scale use of Open Sources by Future Internet. Currently, Open Source
generates business for companies which customise solutions into final applications. Such
web-based solutions could generate profit for SMEs developers.
Open data initiatives and Public Sector Information are also considered important for the agri-food
sector. Until now, mainly farmers have been limited by restricted access to data, information and
knowledge. Linked Data introduces new semantic principles into Web resources and could be useful
to the agri-food sector.
Beyond future ICT use: research for far-future ICT use.
Where the previous section discussed the future ICT use with an eye to the demand for standards,
we could even look further ahead by looking to the research priorities in agriculture and ICT
research. (figure 1)
Figure 1 Challenges that affect the SRA
Technological, innovation and research challenges are seen in the area of balancing food safety and
security, energy production and environmentally and socially sound production; in supporting a better
adoption of agriculture of climatic change challenges, and to make rural regions an attractive place to
live, invest and work, promoting knowledge and innovation for growth and creating more and better
jobs. Supporting the farming community with rural education, training and awareness building in ICT
and to build new ICT models for sharing and use of knowledge by the agri-food community and in
rural regions in general are challenges clearly linked to ICT.
When it comes to research priorities on ICT in agri-food, the following research priorities have been
identified:
Collaborative environments and trusted sharing of knowledge and supporting innovations in
agri-food and rural areas, especially supporting food quality and security.
New (ICT) structures to serve sustainable animal farming, especially regarding animal and
human health and animal welfare.
ICT applications for the complete traceability of production, products and services
throughout a networked value chain including logistics.
A new generation of applications supporting better and more effective management of
sustainable agriculture production and decision making in agriculture ICT applications
supporting the management of natural resources.
An ICT application supporting adoption of farming practices adapted to climatic changes.
An ICT application supporting energy efficiency on farm level.
An ICT application supporting rural development and local businesses.
An ICT application for education, training and awareness raising.
ICT applications reducing administrative burdens in rural areas.
10
Final SRA
Future standardisation needs: the SRA
Based on this analysis of future use of ICT in agriculture, we can address the future need for
standardisation. This leads to the following observations on data, information and knowledge
standardisation.
Concerning data standardisation, the agri-food community will mainly be the consumer of standards
coming from other domains or activities. For example activities related to Future Internet, where it is
the intention to design low-level standards allowing developers to access data through standardised
API. A similar situation, for example, can be found with geospatial data, where access is solved
through OGC standards. Also questions like security are mainly solved outside the agri-food
community. It is important to follow such initiatives, and eventually participate in them if progress is
not fast enough or solutions tend not to take agri-food specifics into account. In two specific
agricultural areas further development is necessary inside of the agri-food community:
o ISOBUS for access to information to agriculture machinery;
o Special agriculture sensors or RFID activities.
More important seems to be the standardisation efforts at the information level. This focuses on
protocols (Web services), API and data models for exchange of information in different areas such as
traceability, precision farming, livestock transport, welfare regulations, subsidies systems (for
example LPIS), weather information, market information, logistic information. It seems that for the
coming years the key focus will be in this area. The work could be partly related to activities such as
agroXML.
With the expansion of Web-based technologies, more standardisation efforts will be necessary at the
knowledge level. Access to knowledge is the goal of many information systems. It is necessary to
build knowledge based tools, which will help user in orientation and right decision. That could be
ontologies, RDF schemas for linked open data, thesauri or vocabularies. Such activities already
exist, for example under FAO (AgroVoc thesaurus) and different tools of knowledge management.
This effort is partly covered by a new project agINFRA.
After AgriXchange….
In standardisation, it is important to transfer the standard to the community. It is necessary to support
communication between researchers, politicians, industry and also final users. It is necessary to
transfer all knowledge to the users. It is important that the requirements for standards are not
defined only by the government or by large industry. Standards have to cover needs of users like
farmers and regional and local ICT developers. Involvement of these communities is crucial. At the
other side, the food market is international and for example information about food traceability has to
be shared worldwide. It is important in this area to develop and support global standards.
It is not realistic to establish a new organization for such standardisation processes, although more
coordination at EU level seems attractive. This is not only a question of financing, but it is also a
question of building infrastructure, human resources, etc. For this reason, we recommend to hand
over and continue agriXchange results under the umbrella of an existing organisation. It will increase
the chances for financing of future activities. As an umbrella organisation at EU level, the European
Federation for Information Technology in Agriculture (EFITA) would be most suitable.
Currently, ICT for the agri-food sector is not covered by any policies and also there is no direct
support for such activities. The topic is addressed by different Directorate Generals (DGs), but no DG
covers this issue fully. It is important to include these topics as part of the European priorities and
also as part of Horizon 2020. Collaboration between member states could be strengthened by the
ERAnet ICT-Agri. It is important to have a strong representative community, which will provide the
Final SRA
11
necessary lobbying. On the worldwide level, part of these activities is covered by FAO. But there are
gaps between FAO and the worldwide community. It is necessary to improve cooperation. The
International Network for Information Technology in Agriculture (INFITA) could play an important role
here.
RTD results and results of standardisation have to be transferred into practice to local and regional
users. In the future, the agINFRA project could be of help. The project has an objective to build
infrastructure for sharing agriculture information. It is necessary to support open innovation initiatives
in rural regions. It would be good to introduce concept of “Smart Rural Regions” similar to Smart
Cities.
12
Final SRA
Synthetic Summary
The agriXchange Strategic Research Agenda (SRA) goes beyond the general scope of the
agriXchange initiative. It is focused not only on standardisation of data exchange but also on the
definition of research priorities for ICT in the agri-food sector and for future sustainability of ICT
agriculture research and standardisation.
The document was prepared in two stages. Project team studies and available materials were the
basis for the first stage. The second stage involved community contribution, which comprised the
following three ways of updating the document:
Publishing the draft agriXchange SRA on the project agriXchange platform for public
discussion.
In situ discussion about the draft agriXchange SRA on SmartAgriMatics 2012 conference in
Paris;
Virtual discussion about the draft agriXchange SRA on Linked-In network. The challenges
and recommendations were discussed by an international community. A number of
comments and contributions came from social networks. In effect, this was the most
valuable source of comments.
The last update of the document was done on the basis of comments and discussions within the
agriXchange team. Those comments led to this final version of the document.
The document is divided into ten parts.
The first part, the introduction, defines the background and scope, main problems, objectives and
approach and outline for the rest of the document.
The second part introduces basic problems of agriculture interoperability, the problems of
management and interoperability of data, information and knowledge in agriculture.
The third part gives a short overview of current standardisation initiatives, which are relevant to the
problems of agriXchange. It also describes current agriXchange activities in the area of
standardisation. The agriXchange work was focused on two topics:
the structure of the framework model serves information on sharing and harmonisation
development for data exchange, and
the implementation of the practical model tool (aXTool) in the agriXchange platform to
be user-friendly.
The fourth part gives an overview of previous activities. We analysed only those projects and
documents that were focused on a vision of future ICT for agri-food or eventually ICT for rural
development. The analyses conclude that the progress in the deployment of ICT infrastructure for
(standardised) data exchange in Europe is changing very fast and changes from one year to the
other. In principle, a large part of the population in Europe has the possibility to access broadband
or has permanent access to the Internet (the bandwidth is usually lower for rural regions than for
cities). This potential access to the Internet is not really used: real use of Internet access is lower in
rural regions and the uptake of new solutions into practice and also research in agri-food and rural
applications is slower than the deployment of the general infrastructure. In many cases application
priorities are the same as 10 years ago. The big problem is the data, information and knowledge
exchange and interoperability.
Final SRA
13
From the overview we come to the following conclusions, important for building of
agriXchange SRA: The uptake of new ICT interoperable technologies in primary production,
which will be accepted by farming sector
The analysis of documents from the last decade demonstrates that there is low sustainability
of ICT for agri-food research and little exchange of experiences among projects. Often
similar analyses with similar results are provided, but overall progress is slow. To overcome
this problem, it is necessary to support a long-term suitability of ICT research and to support
a long-time vision for RTD development in the agri-food sector.
Better and faster implementation of RTD results of ICT in practice with appropriate business
model thinking.
A strong professional (international) organisation which will unify different efforts of different
ICT research and development groups, but which will be also able to protect interests of
communities. The candidate for such an organisation could be the European Federation for
Information Technology in Agriculture, Food and the Environment (EFITA,) but it will be
necessary to change its organisational structure.
It is important to renew dialogues for politicians to focus on ICT for rural regions as part of
Horizon 2020 activities. It is not only important to support standardisation awareness, but
also deployment of new solutions necessary for rural regions. Currently, ICT for agri-food is
not covered on a large scale, neither in DG Connect research nor in KBBE calls.
Due to the global character of agriculture and food production and also because agriculture
production influences and is influenced by the environment, it is important to improve
dialogue and transfer of ICT knowledge between developed and developing countries.
Chapter five is focused on the latest ICT research trends, covering three aspects:
Future Internet;
Open Source Software;
Open Data.
This chapter discusses the relation between Future Internet (mainly cloud computing) and Open
Source Software, which could be in some way considered as competitive approaches, but at the
same time they could be in synergy. There are two important aspects:
1. Interoperability and service-oriented architecture, which allows easy replacement of one
component or service by another one. This concept is already currently broadly used in
geographic information systems.
2. Support for large-scale use of Open Sources by Future Internet. Currently, Open Source
generates business for companies which customise solutions into final applications. Such
web-based solutions could generate profit for SMEs developers.
The last part of the analysis is focused on Open Data and Linked Data. Open data initiatives and
Public Sector Information are also considered important for the agri-food sector. Until now, mainly
farmers have been limited by restricted access to data, information and knowledge. Linked Data
introduces new semantic principles into Web resources and could be useful to the agri-food sector.
Chapters 2 to 5 are mainly analytical: the focus of these chapters was on collecting and analysis of
available resources. The next chapters are synthetic, focused on building a new vision.
Chapter 6 is focused on future challenges. There are two types of challenges
Political-organisational challenges
Technological, innovation and research challenges
14
Final SRA
The following flow chart explains how both types of challenges affect the SRA (Figure 2)
Figure 2 Challenges that affect the SRA
The following political and organisational challenges have been defined
The analysis in Chapter 4 in particular helps define the next political and organisational challenges
To improve the representation of ICT agriculture specialists and users in European activities
To include ICT and knowledge management for agri-food and rural communities generally
as a vital part of the ICT policies and initiatives
To support a better transfer of RTD results and innovation to the everyday life of farmers,
food industry and other rural communities
To accelerate bottom-up activities as a driver for local and regional development
To support discussion and transfer of knowledge between developed and developing
countries
And the following technological, innovation and research challenges
To find a better balance between food safety and security, energy production and
environmentally and socially sound production
To support better adoption of agriculture on climatic changes
To make rural regions an attractive place to live, invest and work, promoting knowledge and
innovation for growth and creating more and better jobs
To support the farming community and rural education, training and awareness building in
ICT
To build new ICT models for sharing and use of knowledge by the agri-food community and
in rural regions in general.
Chapter 7 defines the following research priorities for the Applications domain:
Collaborative environments and trusted sharing of knowledge and supporting innovations in
agri-food and rural areas, especially supporting food quality and security.
New (ICT) structures to serve sustainable animal farming, especially regarding animal and
human health and animal welfare.
ICT applications for the complete traceability of production, products and services
throughout a networked value chain including logistics.
Final SRA
15
A new generation of applications supporting better and more effective management of
sustainable agriculture production and decision making in agriculture ICT applications
supporting the management of natural resources.
An ICT application supporting adoption of farming practices adapted to climatic changes.
An ICT application supporting energy efficiency on farm level.
An ICT application supporting rural development and local businesses.
An ICT application for education, training and awareness raising.
ICT applications reducing administrative burdens in rural areas.
Table 1 shows relation of these research priorities with the challenges.
The development of knowledge-based systems for the farming sector has to be supported by ICT
focusing on the areas as defined in:
Table 1 Relation matrix between Challenges and Applications research Domain
(Green indicates that some applications are the answer to a concrete challenge)
Chapter 8 defines priorities for ICT research domains. This list of domains was defined based on the
needs from application areas, but also based on the analysis of results from chapters 2, 3, 4 and 5.
The future development has to be supported by ICT focusing on:
Future Internet and Internet-based applications such as sensor technology, cloud
computing and machine-to-machine communication.
Mobile applications.
Improving of positioning systems.
Service Oriented Architecture.
Methods of knowledge management.
Semantic models, multilingualism, vocabularies and automatic translation.
New Earth observation methods.
Management and accessibility of geospatial information.
Open data access.
Open Source development.
New modelling.
The power of social networks and social media.
16
Final SRA
New e-educational and training methods.
The relation between agri-food related applications and ICT research topics is described in Table 2.
Table 2 Dependency matrix between Applications domain and ICT development priorities
(The violet colour indicates that for a concrete application a specific technology is required)
Chapter nine provides recommendations for a necessary future standardisation effort related to ICT
and agriculture applications priorities. The provided analysis stresses the following important facts:
On the level of data standardisation, the agri-food community will mainly be the consumer of
standards coming from other domains or activities. For example activities related to Future
Internet, where it is the intention to design low-level standards allowing developers to access
data through standardised API. A similar situation, for example, can be found with geospatial
data, where access is solved through OGC standards. Also questions like security are
mainly solved outside of the agri-food community. It is important to follow this initiative, and
eventually participate in other initiatives including the SmartAgrifood project in Future
Internet. There are two areas where further development is necessary inside of the
community:
o ISOBUS for access to information to agriculture machinery;
o Special agriculture sensors or RFID activities.
More important seems to be the effort on an information level. In accordance with work
which was provided in WP4, it is necessary to be focused on protocols (Web services), API
and data models for exchange of information in different areas such as traceability, precision
farming, live transport, welfare regulations, subsidies systems (for example LPIS), weather
information, market information, logistic information. It seems that for the next period the key
focus will be in this area. The work could be partly related to activities such as agroXML.
In the future with the expansion of Web-based technologies, more effort will be necessary in
the area of knowledge level. Access to knowledge is the goal of many information systems.
It is necessary to build knowledge based tools, which will help user in orientation and right
Application Research domain
ICT Research domain
Collaborative environments and
trusted sharing of knowledge and
supporting innovations in agri-food
and rural areas, especially supporting
food quality and security
New (ICT) structures to serve
sustainable animal farming, especially
regarding animal and human health
and animal welfare
ICT applications for the complete
traceability of production, products
and services throughout a netw orked
value chain including logistics
supporting better and more effective
management of sustainable
agriculture production and decision
making in agriculture ICT applications
supporting the management of natural
ICT application supporting adoption
of farming practices adapted to
climatic changes
ICT application supporting energy
efficiency on farm level
ICT application supporting rural
development and local businesses
ICT application for e ducation, training
and awareness rising
ICT applications reducing
administrative burdens in rural areas
Future Internet
and Internet of
Things
including
sensor
technology,
cloud
computing and
machine to
machine
communication
Open Source
development
New modelling
methods
Mobile
applications
Improving of
positioning
systems.
Service
Oriented
Architecture
Methods of
knowledge
management
Semantic
models,
multilingualism,
vocabularies
and automatic
translation
The power of
social networks
and social
media
New e-
educational
methods.
New earth
observation
methods
Management
and
accessibility of
geospatial
information
Open data
access.
Final SRA
17
decision. It could be ontologies, RDF schemas for open linked data, thesaurus or
vocabularies. Such activities already exist, for example under FAO (AgroVoc thesaurus) and
different tools of knowledge management. This effort is partly covered by the new project
agINFRA.
Chapter 10 defines long-term strategic goals for sustainability of agriXchange. This strategy follows
the political organisational challenges defined in Chapter 6 for the following reasons:
In any area there are two types of standardisation efforts:
o Community or industry driven effort. For these it is necessary to have structure
inside the community, which will take leadership in this area.
o Politically driven standardisation in the agri-food area it could include standards
for animals welfare, food security etc. For implementation in practice, it is necessary
to support related policy. Also, it is good for policy makers to have partners on the
community level.
For any standard it is important to transfer it to the community. It is necessary to support
communication between researchers, politicians, industry and also final users. It is
necessary to transfer all knowledge to the users.
It is important that the requirements for standards are not defined only by politicians or by
large industry. Standards have to cover needs of users like farmers and regional and local
IST developers. Involvement of these communities is crucial.
The food market is international and for example information about food traceability has to
be shared worldwide. It is important in this area to support standards worldwide.
As a reaction on single challenges there are the following recommendations:
It is necessary to have a better coordination of different activities related to ICT for
agriculture, but also related to standardisation. On the basis of the performed analysis, it
seems not realistic to establish a new platform initiative. It is not only a question of financing,
but it is also a question of building infrastructure, human resources, etc. For this reason, the
project team recommends to move agriXchange under the umbrella of an existing
organisation. It will increase the chances for financing of future activities. As an umbrella
organisation, the European Federation for Information Technology in Agriculture (EFITA)
would be most suitable. The advantage to have a European body, representing the ICT Agri-
food sector, which could be an interesting partner for the European Commission and other
policy actors.., in particular for Initiatives such as the European Innovation Partnership.
Currently ICT for agri-food sector is not covered by any policies and also there is no direct
support for such activities. The topic is addressed by different Directorate Generals (DGs),
but no DG covers this issue fully. It is important to include these topics as part of the
European priorities and also as part of Horizon 2020. From this reason, it is important to
have strong representative of a community, which will provide the necessary lobbing. On the
worldwide level, part of these activities is covered by FAO. But there are gaps between FAO
and the worldwide community. It is necessary to improve cooperation.
Any RTD results and also results of standardisation have to be transferred into practice to
local and regional users. In the future, the agINFRA project could be of help. The project has
an objective to build infrastructure for sharing agriculture information.
It is necessary to support open innovation initiatives in rural regions. It will be good to
introduce concept of “Smart Rural Regions” similar to Smart Cities.
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It is necessary to support standardisation cooperation also worldwide. FAO or the
International Network for Information Technology in Agriculture (INFITA) could play an
important role.
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19
1 Introduction
1.1 Background and scope
The objective of this report is to provide a Strategic Research Agenda (SRA) which reflects the
business demands for use of ICT and exchange of agriculture data, information and knowledge
supported by current standardisation, but also by future research in ICT for the agri-food industry. It
reflects the needs of the agriculture business. The focus of the SRA is on identifying major ICT
challenges related to the use of ICT and data, information, knowledge and standards in agriculture
and the agri-food industry sector. The agenda defines not only the necessary ICT standards, but also
in a broader view the Research and Technology Development (RTD) areas which will be selected as
key priorities to achieve the challenges identified. The wide deployment of data, information and
knowledge management, which will include ICT technologies, data, information and standards,
exchange of information and use of ICT standards specifically oriented to the agri-food industry, will
support the transformation of agriculture production into a competitive, sustainable and dynamic
Knowledge-Based Bio-Economy (KBBE) as well as facilitate the participation and ultimately the
complete integration of agricultural production into the Knowledge Society. The SRA is mainly
focused on the KBBE and ICT programmes within the EU FP7 Research Programme, but it is based
on activities on a regional and cross-regional level as well as within other EU programmes and
initiatives. It is critical to follow the main trends, but also to cooperate with the main industry and ICT
players involved. The definition of the SRA required a deep knowledge of problems of agriculture
data, information and knowledge interoperability, previous activities, existing standardisation
problems, the state of the art in the agri-food ICT area, but also consultations with representatives
from industry, governments, agencies, operators, and agri-food authorities and stakeholders involved
in rural development. The discussions with stakeholders during events such as the GeoFARMatics
conference in Cologne in 2010 or the EFITA congress in Prague 2011 played an important role. The
first version of the SRA was published in May 2012. The current document is presenting the final
version of strategic lines that, after validation of the draft version (mainly provided based on the
Smart AgriMatics conference and the Linked-In social network), will support all domain stakeholders
in the process of implementing a number of specific measures to achieve the stated objectives. This
document is the final version, but it is still open for comments. The goal of this SAR is to stimulate
future discussions. For this reason, the document is published under the Common Creative License
to support its re-use and further exploitation of the collected ideas. The objective of the document is
to stimulate discussion. ICT in agriculture is a very dynamic sector and it requires the continual
updating of ideas. On the other hand, the analysis of previous activities demonstrates that there is a
need for a long-time sustainability of ICT for agri-food research (many previous SRAs and other
strategic documents dispersed without any continuity and also accessibility of previous documents).
1.2 Problem
The agriculture sector is a unique sector due to its strategic importance for both European citizens
(consumers) and the European economy (regional and global), which, ideally, should make the
whole sector a network of interacting organisations. Rural areas are of particular importance with
respect to the agri-food sector and should be specifically addressed within this scope. There is an
increasing tension that has not been experienced in any other sector between the requirements to
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Final SRA
ensure full food safety as well as sustainability while keeping costs under control. Also it is necessary
to ensure the long-term strategic interests of Europe and worldwide [1], also with regard to food
security and global challenges. To solve the problems of future farming, we need to develop a new
generation of knowledge management, which will help the agri-food sector to adopt to a changing
world. The objective of future knowledge management is to help the agri-food sector to be
competitive in the market in the sense of required products, quality and amount, to be able to react to
changes in the world market, changes in subsidies systems, requirements for environment
protection, but also to be able to react for example to increasing costs of inputs or to climate
changes. The future knowledge management systems have to support not only direct profitability of
the agri-food sector or environment protection, but also activities of individuals and groups, allowing
effective collaboration among groups in the agri-food industry and consumers and wider
communities, especially in the rural domain. Having these considerations in mind, the proposed
vision lays the foundation for meeting ambitious but achievable operational objectives that in the long
run will definitively contribute to fulfil identified needs. The knowledge management represents the
on-going relationship between people, processes and technology systems involved in designing,
capturing and implementing the intellectual infrastructure of an organisation. It encompasses the
necessary changes in management attitudes, organisational behaviour and policy. Knowledge
management should create a value for the customer and increase the profitability of farms. It is clear
from the definition that knowledge management goes one step further than the simple concept of
information systems and data exchange and entails other two factors, people and processes [2]. This
will require better exchange of information, but also the adoption of new scientific and research
results in the agri-food sector.
The discussions on social networks demonstrate the growing importance of bottom-up activities,
collaboration and social media. Open innovation and open data access are important for future rural
development. Such activities as Living Labs could help rural regions in future. For the urban
population there is a growing activity called Smart Cities. It is important to support similar activities for
rural regions - Smart Rural Regions.
1.3 Objectives of study
The objective of the SRA is to identify major challenges related to the use of standards identified in
agriculture and agri-food industry sector. The agenda defines Research and Technology
Development areas which will be selected as key priorities to achieve the challenges identified. The
future wide deployment and use of standards, which will be specifically oriented to the agri-food
industry, will support the transformation of agriculture production into competitive and dynamic
knowledge-based economy, as well as facilitating the participation and ultimately the complete
integration of the EU agriculture production into the Knowledge Society. The SRA is mainly focused
on KBBE and ICT within FP7 and Horizon2020, but also on sets of activities on a regional and
cross.-regional level as well as within other EU programmes and initiatives.
The second objective is to recommend a way for the long-term sustainability of the agriXchange
initiative.
1.4 Approach and outline
The SRA is not built from scratch. There are two main sources of ideas that are used and extended
in the agriXchange SRA. The first source are the results of previous activities. There were many
activities trying to define the future vision or the ICT and knowledge management in agriculture and
in a broader sense also in rural development. In many cases the project results disappeared together
Final SRA
21
with the project itself. The first part of our work was a deep analysis of previous work and to see what
was done, what was already overcome and what has been valid until now.
The second information sources were the results from WP2, WP3 and WP4 of agriXchange. The
analyses are used as an input and recommendation for the SRA. As was already stressed, the SRA
not only focuses on the standardisation process but also on defining priorities for future research.
This is done because future research priorities will define necessary standardisation tasks in ICT for
the agri-food sector.
A part of the recommendation is also a suggestion for the long-term sustainability of the agriXchange
initiative. The report is outlined as follows:
Chapter 2 gives an introduction to the problem of standardisation of ICT in agriculture
Chapter 3 gives a short overview of current standardisation initiatives relevant to
agriXchange
Chapter 4 analyses previous projects and results of other WPs of agriXchange.
Chapter 5 focuses on current ICT trends and their potential implementation in the agri-food
sector
Chapter 6 defines future research and political challenges for ICT in agri-food sector.
Chapter 7 focuses on defining future research priorities in ICT applications for agri-food
sector.
Chapter 8 defines ICT research priorities given by needs of applications.
Chapter 9 answers the question how research priorities in ICT for agriculture will generate
new requirements for standardisation.
Chapter 10 focuses on agriXchange long-term sustainability and on the definition of political
priorities for the next period.
The final version was prepared on the basis of discussions about the draft SRA during the AgriMatics
2012 conference in Paris and by mainly using moderated discussions on Linked-In and comments
from the project partners. The results of all the discussions were used for finalising the SRA.
22
Final SRA
2 ICT for Agriculture
Interoperability
2.1 Data, information and knowledge
For every discussion about knowledge or information management it is important to better
understand basic terms such as data, information and knowledge. It is also important to understand
the problems of interoperability and standardisation. For a better explanation we will use the Data-
Information-Knowledge-Wisdom hierarchy (Figure 3).
Data: as symbols;
Information: data that are processed to be
useful; provides answers to "who", "what", "where",
and "when" questions;
Knowledge: application of data and
information; answers "how" questions;
Wisdom: evaluated understanding.
Figure 3 The Data-Information-Knowledge-Wisdom hierarchy of Ackoff [3]
A further elaboration of Ackoff's definitions follows:
Data... data is raw. It simply exists and has no significance beyond its existence (in
and of itself). It can exist in any form, usable or not. It does not have meaning of
itself. In computer parlance, a spreadsheet generally starts out by holding data
Information... information is data that has been given meaning by way of relational
connection. This "meaning" can be useful, but does not have to be. In computer
parlance, a relational database makes information from the data stored within it.
Knowledge... knowledge is the appropriate collection of information, such that it's
intent is to be useful. Knowledge is a deterministic process.
Wisdom... wisdom is an extrapolative and non-deterministic, non-probabilistic
process. It calls upon all the previous levels of consciousness, and specifically upon
special types of human programming (moral, ethical codes, etc.). It beckons to give
us understanding about which there has previously been no understanding, and in
doing so, goes far beyond understanding itself. It is the essence of philosophical
probing.” [4]
For the future analysis of agriXchange, important are the first three terms data, information and
knowledge, which define three levels related to the management of farms. The wisdom could be
understood as part of decision processes.
Final SRA
23
We have defined three levels of management:
Data Management;
Information Management;
Knowledge management.
Data management includes
Data governance;
Data Architecture, Analysis and Design;
Database Management;
Data Security Management;
Data Quality Management;
Metadata Management;
Document, Record and Content Management;
Reference and Master Data Management.
Information management includes
Records management;
Can be stored, catalogued, organised;
Align with corporate goals and strategies;
Set up a database;
Use for day-to-day optimum decision-making;
Aims for efficiency;
Data with a purpose.
Knowledge management includes
A framework for designing an organisation’s goals, structures, and processes to add value;
Collect, disseminate, use of information;
Align with corporate goals and strategies;
Focus on cultivating, sharing, and strategising;
Connecting people to gain a competitive advantage;
Information with a purpose.
It is clear that we have to look at the problem of agriculture standardisation from different angles. It is
evident that the focus on standardisation only on data level is too narrow and will not be able to cover
the needs of the agri-food sector. In the future, the main effort has to be on the level of
standardisation of information and knowledge.
2.2 Standardisation need for the agriculture sector
Future Farm deliverable 3.1[5] says that a farmer needs to manage a lot of information to make
economically and environmentally sound decisions. Such a process is very labour intensive because
most parts have to be executed manually. The farm activities include the monitoring field operations,
managing the finances and applying for subsidies, depending on different software applications.
Farmers need to use different tools to manage monitoring and data acquisition onǦline in the field.
They need to analyse information related to subsidies, and to communicate with tax offices, product
resellers etc. These needs are portrayed in Figure 4.
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Final SRA
Figure 4 Relationship between farm management and its environment (from Sörensen et al. [6])
Any decision on farm level requires intensive data, information and knowledge flows. It requires
many different tools. Interoperability plays an important role.
2.3 Interoperability on farm level
Effective use of ICT management tools, decision support, accounting systems, tools for precision
farming etc. require intensive sharing of all:
Data – for example from machinery, loggers etc.;
Information – exchange of information with public bodies, consumers etc.;
Knowledge it is important for farm management systems to be able to understand the
content of information from different external resources.
Interoperability on the farm level cannot be reduced to simple data structures and protocols, but that
has to be fully understood. Agriculture standardisation is a broad subject that overlaps different other
standardisation efforts. The task for the agriXchange initiative is to decide where to share standards
from other initiatives and where to focus the effort of our own standardisation activities.
For standardisation, it is important to know what we have to standardise and why. We need to
analyse the main challenges of ICT for agriculture. These challenges will be used later on to define
what we have to standardise. It is also important to follow the main research trends, because in some
cases future technologies could overcome some standardisation problems.
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25
3 Standardisation
This chapter gives a brief overview of existing standardisation efforts that are important for
agriXchange. It also describes the results from WP4.
3.1 Current standardisation initiatives
3.1.1 ISO
ISO is the International Organization for Standardization, which develops and publishes international
standards. ISO standards ensure that products and services are safe, reliable and of good quality.
For businesses, they are strategic tools that reduce costs by minimising waste and errors and
increasing productivity. They help companies to access new markets, level the playing field for
developing countries and facilitate free and fair global trade. [7]
3.1.2 W3C
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is an international community where member organisations,
a full-time staff, and the public work together to develop Web standards. The W3C mission is to lead
the World Wide Web to its full potential by developing protocols and guidelines that ensure the long-
term growth of the Web. Below we discuss important aspects of this mission, all of which further
W3C's vision of One Web. [8]
3.1.3 OASIS
OASIS (Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards) is a not-for-profit
consortium that drives the development, convergence and adoption of open standards for the global
information society. OASIS promotes industry consensus and produces worldwide standards for
security, Cloud computing, SOA, W eb services, the Smart Grid, electronic publishing, emergency
management, and other areas. OASIS open standards offer the potential to lower costs, stimulate
innovation, grow global markets, and protect the right of free choice of technology. [9]
3.1.4 OGC
The Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) is an international industry consortium of 478 companies,
government agencies and universities participating in a consensus process to develop publicly
available interface standards. OGC® Standards support interoperable solutions that "geo-enable" the
Web, wireless and location-based services and mainstream IT. The standards empower technology
developers to make complex spatial information and services accessible and useful with all kinds of
applications. [10]
3.1.5 IEEE
IEEE is the world's largest professional association dedicated to advancing technological innovation
and excellence for the benefit of humanity. IEEE and its members inspire a global community
through IEEE's highly cited publications, conferences, technology standards, and professional and
educational activities. IEEE, pronounced "Eye-triple-E," stands for the Institute of Electrical and
Electronics Engineers. The association is chartered under this name and it is the full legal name. [11]
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Final SRA
3.1.6 VDMA – ISOBUS
ISOBUS is managed by the ISOBUS group in VDMA. The VDMA (VerbandDeutscherMaschinen-
und Anlagenbau - German Engineering Federation) is a network of around 3,000 engineering
industry companies in Europe and 400 industry experts.
The ISOBUS standard specifies a serial data network for control and communications on forestry or
agricultural tractors. It consists of several parts: General standard for mobile data communication,
Physical layer, Data link layer, Network layer, Network management, Virtual terminal, Implement
messages applications layer, Power train messages, Tractor ECU, Task controller and management
information system data interchange, Mobile data element dictionary, Diagnostic, File Server. The
work for further parts is ongoing. It is currently ISO standard ISO 11783. [12]
3.1.7 agroXML
agroXML is a standard facilitating data exchange in agriculture and other sectors in contact with
agriculture. agroXML is developed by the KTBL and partners among makers of agricultural software
systems, machinery companies and service providers. agroXML is based on the internationally
standardised eXtensible Markup Language (XML). It consists of schemas complemented by content
lists. The schema is designed in a modular way. The English language is used for data type and
element names and the documentation. Essential modules with definitions concerning the farm and
plant production are currently available, modules for livestock farming are in development. [13]
3.1.8 INSPIRE
In Europe a major recent development has been the entering in force of the INSPIRE Directive in
May 2007, establishing an infrastructure for spatial information in Europe to support Community
environmental policies, and policies or activities which may have an impact on the environment.
INSPIRE is based on the infrastructures for spatial information established and operated by the 27
Member States of the European Union. The Directive addresses 34 spatial data themes needed for
environmental applications, with key components specified through technical implementing rules.
This makes INSPIRE a unique example of a legislative “regional” approach. [14]
3.2 agriXchange results
A part of the agriXchange work in WP4 agriXchange team focused on the basic design of the generic
integration framework for data, information and knowledge exchange harmonisation and
interoperability based on selected use cases. The project worked with two levels of use case
descriptions.
The first is a “wide scope” use case description, covering a whole domain-specific procedure
fulfilling the user needs, for example fertilising procedures from planning to execution,
consisting of a chain of processes, actors and data-exchange transactions.
The “narrow scope” description serves as a meta-data model of the interface, where the
context of the data transaction of that specific interface is briefly described.
The agriXchange WP4 effort focused on two aspects:
the structure of the framework model serves information sharing and harmonisation
development of the data exchange, and
the implementation of the practical model tool (aXTool) in the agriXchange platform has to
be user-friendly.
Final SRA
27
The agriXchange Reference Framework design contains functionalities such as search, contribute,
discussion and evaluation by user experience, and also a mechanism for quality management. The
design serves different interest groups with their focus on either wide-scope use cases or narrow-
scoped interface solutions, and assists in interactions between the scopes [15].
From the user point of view, the agriXchange Reference Framework should serve four main
functions: searching for existing solutions interlinked with any open (standardised) interface,
contributing (to) existing solutions, discussion and evaluation of solutions. The Reference Framework
tool should provide information in details that suit user’s demand in different phases of a system
development process.
Classification of contributed information according to the agriXchange Reference Information Model
(aXRIM) is a backbone for the generic integration framework and provides the foundation for the
relevant functionalities of the aXTool, like relevant and efficient search functions. The main classes of
aXRIM are Process, Actors, Communication protocol and Data. The aXRIM includes elements which
concern Technical architecture and Technical communication infrastructure (Class: Communication
protocol) and Organisational embedding (Class: Actors).
Users can be classified as developers, modellers and business users depending on the scope of
their interest. The users can represent specific groups of narrow interest areas or wider themes.
When contributing, users follow a certain work flow through which the aXTool gives guidance. The
quality maintenance requires the contributors to identify their name, the organisation and community
they represent, and the contact information. Also, collected user experiences of already existing
solutions that are also shared by other contributors, are utilised to describe the quality of a certain
solution [16].
Wide-scope use case descriptions serve the development and optimisation of farming, food logistics
and trading systems which capture several sub-systems, actors and stakeholders. Narrow-scope
interfaces focus on single data exchange interfaces and actors and processes around them, and the
level of information detail is higher, including technical details, standards and other implementation
instructions. For this level, one of the key factors in data exchange is the sharing of vocabularies. In
many cases, each data exchange solution has its own specific vocabulary. To increase cost
efficiency in constructing an interoperable system, the harmonising of vocabularies is essential. The
aim of the information modelling of the two use cases is to give a high-level understanding of the
content of the information to be exchanged between the parties or actors involved. Gathering the
data content from different use cases to the agriXchange collection gives a good ground for further
analysis and harmonisation of the vocabulary in the agri-food sector [17].
3.3 Conclusion
Almost all of the described standardisation efforts have some effect on the agri-food sector. Initiatives
such as ISOBUS or agroXML could in future be interconnected with agriXchange initiatives in some
way; the agriXchange community could contribute to some standardisation efforts with requirements
directly from agri-food community and some standards will be simply adopted by the community.
From the work in WP4 it is clear that an important part of future standardisation efforts will be related
to concrete processes, decision making, etc. Standardisation on the level of data exchange is
required (ISOBUS, IEEE standardisation in sensors communication protocols, etc.), but increasingly
also on the level of information exchange and in future also on the level of knowledge (for example
semantic).
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Final SRA
Another important aspect is that current standardisation initiatives are publicly driven or driven by
large industries (W3C, OGC, OASIS). For ICT in the agri-food sector it is important to support the
participation of Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in standardisation processes or minimally
support free access of SMEs to existing standards. The participation of SMEs in the development of
agri-food applications is very high, but the participation of SMEs in standardisation initiatives is very
low (SMEs have no capacity to participate in these activities and to contribute to standards). This
could lead to situations where current standards do not fit the needs of agri-food ICT well. It is
necessary to find the way (granting, networking activities) to support participation of SMEs in
standardisation activities.
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29
4 Overview of past
activities
ICT for agriculture, food, environment and rural development is not a new issue. There were many
activities and initiatives during the last years. New research projects very often start from scratch
without taking into account results from previous activities. Therefore, we decided to include this
chapter to show some project results performed mainly during the first decade of the 21st century.
We expect this chapter can provide a good overview of how ideas have changed, what was reached
and where progress can be shown. It is based on an analysis of supporting and coordination actions
and key declarations with a focus on future strategies in the area of ICT for agriculture, food, rural
development and environment. This analysis includes a short overview of the results or
recommendations from the projects and studies and a list of previous declarations: To complete this
study, part of the analysis is taken from WP2 [18]
Aforo Roadmap
Rural Wins Recommendation
Valencia Declaration
eRural Brussels conference conclusions
Prague Declaration
aBard vision
ami@netfood Strategic Research Agenda
The vision on the future value chain for 2016 by the Global Commerce Initiative
Study on Availability of Access to Computer Networks in Rural Areas
The research agenda of the European Platform for Food for Life
Future Farms recommendations
The Research Agenda and the Action Plan by the Technology Platform for Organic Food
and Farming
The third SCAR Foresight exercise
Cologne Declaration supported by agriXchange
Vision, Strategic Research Agenda and Third Implementation Action Plan (2009) of the
European Agriculture Machinery Industry (Subplatform AET of the Technology Platform
MANUFUTURE
ICT Agri Eranet
agriXchange analysis of data exchange in agriculture in the EU27 & Switzerland
This chapter is prepared as an overview and a review of existing outputs and publications from the
above mentioned projects.
4.1 Aforo
The objective of the AFORO [19] project (running in 2002 and 2003) was to provide a vision and
work plan to implement future RTD trends for the transformation of agri-food industries into digital
enterprises. The AFORO consortium split the agri-food domain into several more "manageable"
sectors. Each of them had its own roadmap. The selected sectors were:
(a) primary sources,
30
Final SRA
(b) processed food products,
(c) beverages
(d) additives, conservatives & flavours.
For every sector the main objectives were:
to define business needs,
to identify the main constraints to be taken into account,
to define a technology independent roadmap based on business demands.
The AFORO methodology defined an approach to how the business needs of the agri-food domain
can be established in an ordered way. The process was divided into the following steps:
data gathering,
ascertaining of current and future objectives,
analysis of these objectives,
listing of key drivers [19].
Figure 5 The AFORO road mapping methodology
The AFORO project defined a roadmapping methodology based on the description of the situation As
is and defining the strategic vision To be (see Figure 5). The important output from the AFORO
roadmap is a consensus of business needs. The following business needs were recognised by
AFORO [20].
To support food traceability and safety over the whole European market chain.
To implement interoperability technologies enabling networked organisations and forming a
Single Food European Market.
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Final SRA
31
To develop market knowledge supporting innovative value added products, processes and
business strategies.
To design and develop interoperability tools for European logistic and services.
To design a European Agri-food Information System including materials, technologies, and
results of RTD activities.
To support the transformation of agri-food business into an effective collaborative
organisation.
For every issue the situation As is was analysed and the roadmap To be was defined. For detailed
recommendations, see [20].
4.2 Rural Wins
The objective of Rural Wins [21] (2002 – 2003) was to build a strategic RTD roadmap developing an
information and communications technologies’ vision to ensure the economically and technically
feasible deployment of information and communication solutions for rural areas including also
maritime regions and islands.
The project provided an analysis of:
the trends in technology development,
the needed equipment,
the deployment of services.
Different scenarios of joint public and private initiatives and business models were analysed to
reduce the discriminatory gap that nowadays exists between rural and urban areas with regard to
broadband accessibility and applications’ deployment. Rural Wins use the following classification of
rural areas (based on typology of DG Region)
1. Integrated rural areas - territories with a growing population, an employment basis in the
secondary and tertiary sectors, but with farming remaining an important land use. The
environmental, social and cultural heritage of some of these areas, relatively close to big
cities, may be under pressure of "urbanisation". The rural character of some of these areas
is at risk of becoming predominantly suburban.
2. Intermediate rural areas - relatively distant from urban centres, with a mixture of primary and
secondary sectors; in many countries larger scale farming operations can be found.
3. Remote rural areas - areas with the lowest population densities, the lowest incomes and an
older population. These areas depend heavily on agricultural or fishing employment and
generally provide the least adequate basic services
For all three types of rural areas, the barriers that need to be addressed by Broadband ICTs are
identified as:
Distance barriers - access to administrative and governmental services and structures
(taxes, subsidies etc.).
Economic barriers - access to wider business and labour markets (suppliers, customers,
opportunities).
Social barriers of rural inhabitants to information, education & training facilities, health, social
services etc.
32
Final SRA
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Information barriers – currently the amenities of many rural areas are "invisible" to the
"outside world" (inhabitants of other areas, urban centres or citizens of other states - rural
tourism, local products etc.).
Based on the analysis of socio-economic and technology trends, the project concluded that for Rural
Broadband access the following is needed:
Public/Private Partnerships;
New access technologies.
The project developed a strategic roadmap template that provides a simple, coherent and complete
framework to describe the ICT requirements and issues for rural and maritime areas (Figure 6).
Figure 6 Framework of the Rural Wins project to describe ICT requirements and issues for rural
and maritime areas.
The framework consists of 4 dimensions:
1. Vision/Policy,
2. Awareness,
3. Technology/Infrastructure
4. Services/Applications
These were identified for each of the Rural Wins’ (a) Integrated, (b) Intermediate & (c) Remote types
of rural and maritime areas.
Using this framework, the following concrete scenarios are identified for each type of rural area:
Integrated areas
o ICT needs – similar to urban;
o Recommended – “standard” fibre/wired/mobile/WLAN;
o Objectives – full parity and use with urban areas;
Final SRA
33
o Implementation – commercial;
Intermediate areas
o ICT needs – distributed “economies of scope”;
o Recommended – some fibre/wire/mobile/WLAN to towns, satellite/WLAN elsewhere;
o Objectives – competitive SMEs & access by all to all services;
o Implementation – public/private partnerships;
Remote areas
o ICT needs – part of regional economic, social & cultural development;
o Recommended – satellite/WLAN - new access approaches are required;
o Objectives – ubiquitous fixed & mobile services to overcome barriers;
o Implementation – public funding, public/private & community partnerships.
The use of bi-directional broadband satellite links and local/community owned and operated wireless
LANS (particularly Meshs of W i-Fi (802.11a/b) wireless cells) are identified as being particularly
relevant eRural access technologies for remote rural areas.
Rural Wins promotes “eRural” policy. The eRural Integrated project (eRural IP) has to adopt an
integrated and multidisciplinary approach across the whole value chain from technology to services
and awareness that will cover all RT&D to eliminate the Urban/Rural Digital Divide. [22]
4.3 Valencia Declaration
The Valencia Declaration was the output of the European Conference “Information Society as Key
Enabler for Rural Development” organised in Valencia, on 3 and 4 February 2003. The Valencia
Declaration addressed the following issues [23]:
INFRASTRUCTURES AND SERVICES - telecommunications infrastructures must provide
the same level of information transmission and of technology and knowledge transfer. Due
to low population density and weak economic activity in rural areas, it is necessary to design
an optimal convergence model to deploy broadband telecommunications networks. Public
administration has to support the deployment of such an infrastructure, offering a strategic
framework of cooperation and reinforcing the process of telecommunications liberalisation.
Member States should address communications infrastructures and their contents in rural
areas as a strategic priority. This will require implementation of European Authorities'
suggestions regarding the development of information society national and regional plans,
through the development of infrastructures (broadband) as well as services. With regards to
services to citizens, it must be taken into account that one of the reasons for the
depopulation of rural areas is that urban areas provide services to which rural population has
no access. The use of ICT could be the key to overcome this situation. The following is
already available but needs to be enhanced: direct access to administrations (e-
Government), particularly the remote delivery of traditional public services, such as health
(e-health), social assistance, education and lifelong learning (e-learning).
TRADITIONAL SECTORS AND NEW BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES – it is necessary to use
ICT to gain major benefits through becoming a part of the information society. With regards
to the traditional sectors in rural areas (agriculture, livestock, fishing, forestry and food
industries) it is worth mentioning the following benefits:
34
Final SRA
o Concerning food safety and quality: the use of more efficient quality management and
assurance tools as well as training, communication and information applications and
government follow-up models.
o The increase in clearness, transparency and efficiency in agricultural markets as well as
in sector relationships and in relations among different sectors.
o The increase in competitiveness by means of a faster adaptation to new market trends.
o The increase in consumer confidence through the use of tools which enable food
traceability, in a way that they will be able to check food safety and quality and that
throughout the production process, environmental and animal welfare rules have been
respected.
o The use of e-business tools to concentrate offer and to allow producers to increase their
share in the end value of the product.
KNOWLEDGE SOCIETY FOR ALL - To get rural citizens and companies into the
information society they must participate in the general cultural change process, required by
this new society model. To this end, the first step to be taken is the development of “digital
literacy” initiatives, which will promote the day-to-day use of computers and the Internet. ICT
usage levels in companies and homes vary between countries, regions and even counties,
but are always significantly lower in rural compared to urban areas. However, it is worth
bearing in mind that rural areas are very diverse one from another and show varying levels
of socio-economic development. Another factor which must not be disregarded is language.
The respect for European multilingual diversity demands actions which contemplate this
reality. Overcoming the psychological resistance to technological change must not be
underestimated, and will require awareness, training and capacity-building initiatives, while,
at the same time, the communication interfaces improve their user-centred and user-friendly
character. Moreover, ICT can provide rural inhabitants with cultural and leisure services,
which could help to overcome the “sense of isolation” that is often considered a major cause
for young people to leave rural areas. The creation of virtual communities and the
recreational uses of the Internet can open a window to the world for rural citizens, while
increasing the feeling of belonging to their rural community and identity.
The conclusion of the Valencia Declaration stressed the importance of inviting all public and private
agents to create a new strategic framework of cooperation from which to promote the following:
the development of telecommunications infrastructures on an equal basis in all European
territories, within the confines of current regulatory legislation;
the location of new activities in rural areas, as well as the development of value-creation
actions for all businesses and services;
the formation of active policies by those responsible for public administration at European,
national, regional and local level to ensure appropriate action for the achievement of these
objectives;
multidisciplinary research (technical and socio-economic) to enable a better understanding
of the fundamental new drivers of the information society and their impact on rural areas;
the continuity of discussions, to share expertise and best practices, and to facilitate the
progression from a model based on pilot projects to a model that allows successful initiatives
to be widely adopted.
Final SRA
35
4.4 eRural Brussels conference conclusions
As a follow-up of the Valencia conference, the European associations EFITA together with the Czech
Centre of Strategic Study (CCSS) and with support of DG INFSO of the European Commission
organised one day @rural conference in Brussels. The mission of the @rural conference was to
facilitate the support for establishing of new European @rural policy,
exchange information and experience,
support the development of knowledge in the area of ICT in rural development to enhance
the competitiveness of Europe,
promote the awareness of ICT in rural areas of Europe.
The Brussels @rural conference joined representatives of national, regional and local governments,
ICT researchers and developers, ICT industry, consultants, specialists for rural development with
representatives of the European Commission.
The @rural conference conclusions stressed that ICT technologies offer the possibility to bring new
activities, services and applications to rural areas, or to enhance those already existing, providing
thus a chance to overcome the barriers and to bridge the widening rural-urban divide. [24].
The development of the information society in rural areas fosters European development and
integration, and increases the competitiveness of European companies. A region needs a solid
foundation for innovation, particularly through an innovation infrastructure with telecommunications
and effective use of knowledge. Communications technology enables increased interconnectivity
between knowledge workers and companies through virtual networking. Shortages of skills and
qualified staff emerge as a major obstacle to innovation. Regions should therefore pay more attention
to lifelong learning to facilitate the adoption of new technologies.
The discussed @rural vision supported the stimulation of services, applications and content including
modern online public services, e-government, e-learning, e-health services and dynamic business
environment. It is important to fund more services, applications and content. Broadband
infrastructure provision depends on the availability of new services to use it. This problem is
particularly acute in rural areas, where competitive infrastructure provision is not emerging as rapidly
as in more central or urban areas. There is thus need for a more pro-active and holistic approach that
harnesses latent demand in rural areas for service provision. Getting affordable broadband to areas
currently regarded as commercially unviable was mentioned as a "challenge". Such an approach
would go a long way to ensure “wider adoption, broader availability and an extension of ICT
applications and services in all economic and public services and in the society as a whole”.
Conclusions mentioned the importance of tacit and specialised knowledge calls for greater mobility of
knowledge workers in rural regions and investment in training and education. Traditional approaches
to the production and use of knowledge have to be adapted to this system view of the innovation
process in a knowledge society for rural regions. To this end, new relationships must be established
between public support organisations, universities and enterprises. In addition to their traditional
roles in education and research, universities should promote the transfer and diffusion of knowledge
and technologies using ICTs, especially towards their local regional business environment.
36
Final SRA
A discussion on the concept of ambient intelligence was a priority. Ambient intelligence provides a
vision of the information society where the emphasis is on greater user-friendliness, more efficient
services support, user-empowerment, and support for human interactions.
To assert the implementation of European Research Area principles into rural regions, it is important
to support research focusing on ICT implementation in rural areas with a critical mass of rural actors,
effort and public-private-partnerships across Europe. The eRural research needs to adopt an
integrated and multidisciplinary approach across the whole value chain from technology to services
and with an awareness that will cover all RTD&D to eliminate the Urban/Rural Digital Divide.
Among the application topics, these main future challenges were mentioned: eGovernment,
environment monitoring and emergency services, food safety, precision farming, controlling of
subsidies, application for food industry, ICT solution for forestry and wood industry, eBusiness,
teleworking, added value chain, eRural tourism, eHealth, eLearning with special needs for remote
areas, the eContent solutions, entertainment, eCulture.
In the field of communication, the following important research topics were recognised: mobile
systems and mainly WLAN, satellite communication, hyperlan, terminals able to work in different
networks.
WEB technologies became an important topic knowledge management, semantic WEB,
personalised WEB, multilingual WEB, distributed system and interoperability including grid
technologies (mainly semantic and knowledge grid), data and network security, location-based
services, GIS and earth observation, visualisation, image processing simulation, embedded systems.
It was recognised that the current level of development of technologies enables their direct
implementation. Support has to be focused not only on research itself but also on the implementation
of the research results. The relation between RTD support and implementation support (structural
funds) is necessary. The coordination of the activities of DG INFSO, DG Research, DG Agri and DG
Regio on a European level is important.
4.5 Prague Declaration
The Prague Declaration was discussed and published during the European Conference Information
System in Agriculture and Forestry organised in Prague between 15 and 17 May 2006. The
document in the context of a proposed eRural Policy for Europe notes that the current EU Rural
Development Strategy for 2007-2013 represents a welcome opportunity for the creation of a Rural
Knowledge Society.
The participants declared that the overall eRural Policy Strategy should be based on the combination
of a bottom-up and top-down Information and Communications Technology (ICT) development -
always rooted in the cultural heritage, needs and desires of the rural communities. This will involve
ICT decision makers, developers, providers, end users and other stakeholders.
The imperative aspects are the following:
Policy and Leadership;
Research and Innovation Related to the Development of a Rural Knowledge Society;
Technology Access, Applications and Content;
New Working Environment Business Models;
Final SRA
37
Social and Human Aspects;
Environmental Aspects.
The Prague Declaration devotes the following objectives:
Sustainable eRural policies by those responsible for public administration at European,
national, regional and local level.
The support and take up of affordable telecommunications infrastructures and services on a
unified basis in all European and other relevant territories.
The development of value-creating activities supporting sustainable development of new
growth areas in rural communities.
Technology platforms supporting multidisciplinary and collaborative research and
development on social, economic and environmental aspects to enable fundamental new
drivers of the Rural Knowledge Society. These include assessment and monitoring of their
impact on rural areas.
Further discussions to share expertise and implementation of best practices. [25], [26]
4.6 aBard vision
A-BARD (2005 2006) was a Coordination Action that was researching rural broadband provision
and use. It was targeted to the needs of rural communities. A-BARD addressed questions close to
eRural actors including [27]:
Rural broadband deployment in rural Europe: issues, models, best practices, affordability
and accessibility?
Broadband applications and services: what is emerging and can some of those applications
and services directly address the digital divide?
A-BARD is documenting emerging results and experience to focus and leverage emerging
results from on-going RTD, mobile applications and services deployment and ICT take-up.
The aBard recommendations [26] were based primarily on the assessment of work that was
undertaken in the A-BARD project, and a synthesis of technological possibilities, market
opportunities and the capacity of actors in the regional authorities (to develop and expand ICT based
services and applications). This synthesis takes into account the experience of rural areas as a
whole and of possible development scenarios in the context of wider EU developments. It provided a
perspective on market segmentation in terms of both existing and foreseeable telecommunications
products / services. The A-BARD recommendations were structured into four categories:
Policy aspects;
Strategic actions;
Standalone initiatives;
Further research & innovation.
These needed to balance top-down and bottom-up approaches. They are summarised as follows:
1. Define an ambitious European Rural Broadband Strategy as an integral part of Sustainable
Rural Development Policy
Allocate public funding where there is “market failure”;
In i2010 A European Information Society for growth and employment and FP7,
include specific infrastructure, ICT use and RTD initiatives for rural areas;
2. Stimulate business and technical competition in the Rural Broadband Market
38
Final SRA
Every user should have a choice of 2 or more broadband access options;
Stimulate Public Sector Demand aggregation in rural and remote areas;
3. Develop sustainable Connected Rural eCommunities to stimulate demand and broadband
take up
Enhance Regional Leadership and Local Champions;
Promote and support awareness (“know what”) and training (“know how”);
4. Provide services and content that rural users want (“killer applications”).
Local content;
Entertainment;
As well as eBusiness, eLearning, eHealth, eGovernment.
4.7 ami@netfood Strategic Research Agenda
The objective of the AMI@Netfood project (2005 -2006) was to support the implementation of the IST
Research Priority and Framework Programme, providing a long-term vision on future trends on
scientific and technology research oriented to the development and application of ambient
intelligence technologies for the agri-food domain. [28]
The Strategic Research Agenda (SRA) outlined activities necessary to support both rural
development and in particular agri-food industries. Concerning agri-food businesses, SRA intended
to provide a path to facilitate the sector to retain their position as world leaders in providing safe and
healthy food products at a reasonable cost. The approach taken was to draw upon ICT to support
businesses and industry in the agri-food sector and transform it into a Collaborative Working
Environment (CWE). In relation with rural development domain, the SRA described the needs of the
sector and proposed measures to implement ICT solutions in rural areas to support their
development. The approach selected not only focused on the development of applications and
infrastructures, but also on a means to promote the diversification of rural activities and the
promotion of new services through the wide adoption of information and communications
technologies [29].
The ami@netfood SRA defined the following challenges:
Support the European agri-food industry, especially SMEs, to be a worldwide leader in the
supply of high quality and safe food products.
Increase the level of involvement of consumers in the agri-food value chain by means of the
wide adoption of relevant IC technologies and applications.
Increase the areas in which European citizens find collaborative working environments
assisted by ICTs by extending them to agri-food industry and rural domain.
Open new business opportunities for the European ICT industry through development of
new applications and tools to support the European agri-food and rural sector.
Contribute to trigger the investment in ICT and telecommunications infrastructure by means
of creating new business models in rural areas.
Make rural Europe a more attractive place to live, invest and work, promoting knowledge
and innovation for growth and creating more and better jobs.
The research and technology development (RTD) domains selected were: [30]
ICT applications for the complete traceability of products and services throughout a
networked value chain.
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39
Collaborative environments in agri-food and rural areas.
ICT applications supporting the management of natural resources and rural development
creating value for citizens and businesses.
Innovative ICT applications in rural areas using broadband infrastructure.
The defined RTD objectives were:
Developing of interoperable integrated intra- and inter-enterprise applications.
Improving network collaboration.
Increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of knowledge sharing.
Improving the customer orientated business model.
Supporting the dynamic network management.
4.8 The vision on the future value chain for 2016 by the Global Commerce
Initiative
“The Global Commerce Initiative (CGI) has described the future value chain for 2016, in particular
from a retailer's perspective (GCI 2006). They identify several external driving forces, outside the
direct control of industry, retail and consumer product companies that can be grouped into five areas:
Economic issues, including the reshuffling of the world’s top economies, the growing gap
between industrialised and developing countries, as well as a focus on social responsibility
among the more developed countries in areas such as fair trading.
Ecological issues, including water, energy and fuel scarcity and efficiency, sustainability and
waste management.
Changing demographics, such as the shift in global population, urbanisation and cross-
border migration.
New technologies, such as virtual reality, quantum computers and information networks,
have the potential to make data, people and objects accessible everywhere and
immediately. Regulatory forces, including extended legislation on health and wellness (for
example, labelling of products) and privacy standards.
At the same time, there will be key industry trends that will affect the future value chain, particularly in
the areas of consumer behaviour, information flow and product flow. In contrast with the external
driving forces, it is possible to shape these internal forces. GCI sees a convergence of these external
forces and industry trends that will drive the evolution of the value chain. From that point of view, they
identify six critical areas of opportunity and growth and improved performance of which information
sharing is the most interesting in the context of this project. About information sharing they write the
following:
Companies must be prepared to share standards-based data free of charge. Sharing
information (such as supply chain events) between trading partners will result in an improved
information flow and, as a consequence, improved collaboration to better serve the consumer. A
resulting collaborative information platform could become the basis for further supply chain solutions,
like demand-driven ordering and collaborative promotion planning.
Thus, GCI envisions an open network, with flexible relationships between network partners, which
implies less hierarchical, linear chain structures. This has consequences for innovation that will be
developed within these open networks, together with changing, sometimes anonymous, partners.
There will be less focus on the products themselves and everything is considered as a service. ICT
could enable information sharing and thus facilitate and improve knowledge-based production
because ICT could help to:
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organise and streamline large amounts of data in an effective way (data warehousing)
make knowledge accessible (e-content) and put it in the right context for application (e.g. by
context-sensitive search)”
combine knowledge and data in models that are meaningful in the right context (e.g. in
decision support systems)”[31]
4.9 Study on Availability of Access to Computer Networks in Rural Areas
The DG AGRI “Study on Availability of Access to Computer Networks in Rural Areas” provided policy
makers, stakeholders and others with guidance how to maximise the benefits of Information &
Communications Technology (ICT) for growth and jobs in all rural areas of Europe, using the support
of rural development programmes. The study prepared:
a database of best practices,
a review of existing policies [32].
On the basis of the analysis a set of recommendations with focus on maximisation of the benefits of
ICT for rural development was prepared:
A coherent eRural strategy as an integral part of sustainable rural development policy,
focusing on building capacity, even though this often produces “softer” outputs;
Improvement within the eRural strategy of control and monitoring of ICT indicators, policies
and initiatives including the collection of coherent statistical data;
Measures which stimulate business and technical competition at different levels of scope
and sophistication within the rural broadband market;
Developing sustainable connected rural eCommunities to stimulate demand and ICT take-up
particularly by enhancing regional leadership and local champions to ensure that ‘bottom
up’ projects flourish, and by supporting awareness (“know what”) and training (“know how”);
Providing services and content that rural users feel are pertinent to them, especially
entertainment and local content, as well as policy priorities such as eBusiness, eLearning,
eHealth and eGovernment services;
Encouraging initiatives which promote the theme of eCommunity, particularly by way of a
common eRural agenda;
Adopting a rubric of best practice at the interface between LEADER and those seeking
access to funding;
Extending investment in broadband infrastructure to all local public sector agencies and
schools;
Investing and developing the content of local networks;
Raising the digital e-skills of local businesses and citizens;
Introduction of an eProcurement process with appropriate safeguards and innovative
proactive online support to fast-track ICT projects in rural areas;
Explicitly encourage the role of local authorities in laying ducts and then renting them to
operators on an open and non-discriminatory basis, and promoting indoor pre-cabling for all
new buildings in their regions.
Review adds new factors to those identified in previous research:
A shared sense of lagging behind, which can be stimulated constructively by a local
‘champion’;
Being spurred on as a consequence of a successful local enterprise;
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Being encouraged by the experience or ICT familiarity of others;
Following a targeted intervention which demonstrably has improved the local quality of life;
Emotional responses for local, personal reasons;
Local resistance to an imposed agenda; [32]
4.10 The research agenda of the European Platform for Food for Life
“The European Technology Platform Food for Life has developed a Strategic Research Agenda
(SRA), presenting the priorities for research, communication, training and knowledge transfer in the
food sector for the coming years. Eight research challenges are defined: ensuring that the healthy
choice is the easy choice for consumers, delivering a healthier diet, developing quality food products,
assuring safe foods that consumers can trust, achieving sustainable food production, and managing
the food chain.
However, the platform states that for successful implementation of the programme further
prioritisation is required. This has resulted into three key trusts, involving research that will lead to
improved competitiveness of the agro-food industry by developing new processes, products and
tools that:
Improve health, well-being and longevity
Build consumer trust in the food chain, and
Derive from sustainable and ethical production
The platform Food for Life has given particular attention to the changes that are necessary
throughout Europe to enhance awareness of the impact that research could make on business
efficiency, costs of production and more robust markets. Particular emphasis has been placed on
identifying new, effective measures in communication, training and knowledge transfer activities, both
as a means of ensuring increased consumer trust and understanding of food science and
technology, and in engaging the industry.”[31]
4.11 Future Farm vision
Future Farm was a European project funded by the EU as part of the Seventh Research Framework
Programme. It ran between 2008 and 2010. The main aim of the project was to make a vision of
future arable farming. [33], [34]
The project recognised that the future farming and also future farming knowledge management
system will have to solve many problems, where there will be very different requirements on
production, but also on strategic decisions. There is a list of influences and drivers that will also
influence farming. For example, requirements on food quality and safety in opposition with
requirements as a result of a growing population and on renewable energy production technologies.
The project also highlights that in some cases production on renewable production energy can have
negative influence on the environment. It is important to introduce a new knowledge system that will
help to solve such problems. [35], [36]
By 2030 the importance of biotechnology will grow and research results could be transferred on farm
level. There will be two important trends: requirements on quality of production (high quality food,
vegetables and fruits and also growing demand on special food) and on environmental friendly
production on one side and increasing demand on amount of production on the other side.
The project expects that two main groups of farm will exist in 2030:
Multifunctional farms.
Industrial farms with focus on high efficiency and high quality of production.
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Final SRA
The focus of the multifunctional farm will be on efficient agriculture from an environmental and socio-
economic point of view. But the future of the multifunctional farms will depend on public dialog and
valuation of non-production goods. [37]
The focus of the industrial farm will be to produce enough food and energy in a sustainable way
which meets the consumer’s demands. The quality of food will be important in Europe and it is
expected, that also bio production will be industrialised or will become knowledge intensive. The
expectation is that the industrial farm will be able to exist without subsidies, but it will dependent on
the level of restriction. Science will be the key driver.
In 2030 agriculture will become fully knowledge driven. This will require full adoption of ICT. New
sensors and nanotechnologies will become part of management. ICT facilitated the development of
robotics and automation now used in many industries including the agri-food sector.
On an architectural level of information systems, Future Farm recommends a focus on service
oriented architecture, which could guarantee better connections and interoperability of future
systems. It will influence used GIS systems, a better acceptation of XML standards, but also the
importance of robotics will grow.
For adoption of new technologies, it will be important to focus on two horizontal issues: education
and standardisation. Without educated staff it will not be possible to introduce new knowledge
intensive methods. Standardisation importance will grow for interconnectivity of different levels of
farming knowledge systems. [38], [39].
From the point of view of Future Farming, it is necessary to take into account previous analyses for
suggestion of future knowledge management system functionalities and interrelation. The basic
principles of interrelation could be expressed by the following Figure 7 (coming from [39]).
Figure 7 Exchange of knowledge’s cross different levels of farm management
The image expresses the task for knowledge exchange on different levels. By studying this schema
the following transfer of knowledge could be expected.
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43
Climate changes
Macro level
There will be a need for a long-time modelling of influences of global climatic changes on production
in single regions. It is not only a focus on a selection of best crops and their varieties, but also an
analysis of new pests or insects. It will be important to analyse and predict the needs for irrigation. In
the short term, it will be necessary to predict extreme weather events.
Farm level
Prediction model for climatic changes in middle term period (minimally for one season, but better for
three or five seasons) will be an important aspect for changing a strategy on the farm level. There is
no possibility to change arable production during the season. It is better to continually move to a new
production.
Micro level
With changing climatic conditions and with higher probability of extreme local events, the importance
of local monitoring and local weather forecast for a short time period (weeks, a month) will grow. The
use of new sensor technologies and local forecasts systems will play an important role.
Demographic
Macro level
On a macro level it is necessary to forecast the amount of food that will be necessary worldwide and
regionally only. This forecast should enable a middle term perspective from one to five years for
farmers to adapt their production for the next season, but also to provide some changes for the
following years. It is also necessary to provide a short-time forecast of yields during a season so
farmers can optimise their marketing strategy.
Farm level
The seasonal forecast of yield has to be used on farm level for optimising other costs of production
during the season. Middle-term forecasts have to be used for optimisation of farm production
(selection of crops, varieties, crop production focus). Other important aspects could be to decrease
the demand on labour resources by better farm management and logistics, by introducing robots or
by implementing larger ones.
Micro level
The short and middle term information about yield demand will require to use different models of
precision farming. It is not possible to implement one model. This will be necessary to offer different
possibilities, like maximise yield, to keep good yield quality, to minimise costs (to keep soil
sustainable development), to optimise farm profit for future farm development, etc. Robots’
implementation helps to solve problems with time needed for data collection, accuracy, objectivity of
data collection and labour resources.
Energy cost
Macro level
From the development of costs of energy in the last years, it seems that costs of energy are not
predictable. But in the long term we can expect that the cost of energy will grow. There will be a need
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Final SRA
for prediction of the development of energy costs. The cost of energy will be important from two
different reasons:
Energy costs will influence costs of production.
Energy costs will be important for decision.
Farm level
The new knowledge management system on farm level has to be focus on three aspects:
How to decrease cost consumption, which will be focused on farm management strategy
and improving of logistic.
To use such machinery that will guarantee lower energy consumption for the same amount
of work.
Decision about optimal crop composition.
Micro level
Development of energy cost will influence farm management on field level in the following aspects:
Optimisation of energy consumption using robotic technology.
Use PF technologies in new direction to decrease energy costs as for example precision
seeding or precision crop protection.
With potential energy production will be necessary to change the PF models like in previous
case.
New demands on food quality
Macro level
It will be necessary to collect and analyse information of consumer behaviour and consumer
requirements in the direction of food quality or specific diet requirements. It will be necessary to
qualify and also quantify the willingness of the population to pay for certain quality of production or for
certain products. Currently, for major population costs of production are the main criterion. This
criterion is in relation with economic situation of single citizens and globally with economic situation in
countries.
Farm level
The main decision on farm level will be whether it will be better to orient farm production towards
lower amounts of high quality yields at higher prices or towards higher amounts of lower quality
yields at lower prices.
Micro level
The new food quality demands will have on field level the following influences on knowledge
management systems:
Using new tools of traceability to give evidence about quality of production.
To use new Precision Farming algorithms to guarantee higher quality of production.
To use new technologies like robotics to guarantee more precise fertilisation and crop
protection.
Innovative drivers
Macro level
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45
From an innovation point of view, it will be necessary to offer information to farmers about new crops
that could be used for concrete climatic or geographic conditions, about their resistance, productivity
etc. It will be important to give farmers access to new possibilities of using different crops for energy
production, different bio products and use of different crops for example in pharmacy.
Farm level
The information about new products has to be used for optimal selection of sorts in relation with
geographical and climatic production. The information about needs for different crops for non-food
production and also their prizes has to be used for decision, which will be orientated towards farm
production.
Micro level
On a micro level, PF methods should be able to adapt for specific requirements of new sorts.
It is important to introduce new methods of traceability, which will guarantee usability of crops for
specific bio production and in pharmacy. New technologies like robotics, will be required to provide
operations more effectively
Development of sustainable agriculture
Macro level
On a macro level, there is a need to guarantee access of farmers to information about possible
payment and the possibility of environmental valuation. It is important to take into account that if
farmers will play a role in environment protection, they will need to have a profit from it. It is
necessary to offer them concrete values, which they will obtain using certain methods of production.
Farm level
The knowledge management system has to support the following tasks:
To define optimal methods of production (selection of crops, crop rotation, etc.) to guarantee
long-term sustainability of the production and protection of quality of soil as the mean of
production.
To support decision. If the farmer will be more oriented on classical intensive production or
on the methods of environment protection of production, it has to be done on the concrete
level of environmental valuation.
Micro level
The knowledge management on micro level has to cover the following tasks:
Monitoring of soil quality.
Precision farming methods, which will guarantee protection of environment.
Traceability tools giving evidence of used methods.
Policies
Macro level
The knowledge about changes in policies, standards, changes in subsidies has to be transferred into
such forms that could be easily acceptable by farm management systems. Policies, subsidies,
standards are usually not possible to change on a lower level, but they represent some level of
limitation. It is necessary to transfer this knowledge into decision supporting systems on farm level as
a limitation. It is necessary to support subsidies management and controlling systems.
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Final SRA
Farm level
It is necessary to include limitations given by policies as components or limitations for decision
support system on farm level. It is necessary to analyse and collect information that is required as
evidence from governmental bodies.
Micro level
The knowledge management on a field level has to guarantee traceability and all monitoring of all
parameters that will be required by legislation.
Economy
Macro level
It is necessary to collect knowledge about costs of inputs on market and also about prizes of
products on the market to give chance to farmers to adapt their behaviour. It is necessary to provide
integration of information in vertical and horizontal agri-food chains and also integration of knowledge
among farmers, advisory and service organisations using a common workspace to guarantee
effective cooperation.
Farm level
There is a need for a decision support system, which will be able, on the basis of economical
information from market, to analyse possible changes in production, selection of suppliers and to
select to whom to sell the production. It is necessary to give the possibility to share a part of the
information in the horizontal and vertical chain.
Micro level
The PF tools have to guarantee effective exchange of information with suppliers.
Public opinion
Macro level
Public opinion could have an influence on consumer behaviour, on the costs of products on the
market, but also could influence policies (for example global warming problem). It is necessary to
analyse different public opinion campaigns and analyse their possible influence on the market.
Farm level
On farm level, it is necessary to include as one criterion for Decision Supporting Systems possible
influences of public opinion campaigns on market.
Good traceability on all farm levels has to be supported.
Micro level
Support for full traceability.
Active participation in IT related standardisation activities will also be necessary in terms of
facilitating that work related to standards does comply with the users' long-term requirements. Here,
having the input of rural users to future standards and regulations will facilitate a faster take up of
ICTs.
The main conclusions of the vision for Future Farm knowledge management system are:
Both directional knowledge transfer among macro farm and field management level;
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Main decision has to be provided on farm level;
Use standards for communication among levels;
Use Open Service Architecture;
For decision system give possibilities;
To select suboptimal variants;
To use non deterministic methods.
To provide optimal decision, the system needs to have an access to as much knowledge from global
level as possible (the different macro knowledge was mentioned before). Any missing knowledge
could have an effect on the final decision. There are many limitations, but also many freedoms for
decision. It is necessary to mentioned one risk. If all farmers will use the same input knowledge and
the same deterministic algorithm, the usage of such decision could lead to distortion of the market.
There exist two possible options, which could guarantee non uniform decision:
To use suboptimal variants.
To use non deterministic methods for decision.
4.12 The Research Agenda and the Action Plan by the Technology Platform for
Organic Food and Farming
TP Organics has published a Research Vision 2025 (2008) and a Strategic Research Agenda, with
concrete research priorities (2009). In December 2010, TP Organics finalised its Implementation
Action Plan. The Implementation Action Plan considered how innovation can be stimulated through
organic food and farming research and, crucially, translated into changes in business and agricultural
practice. TP Organics argues for a broad understanding of innovation that includes technology,
know-how and social/organisational innovations. Accordingly, innovation can involve different actors
throughout the food sector. The action plan also addresses knowledge management in organic
agriculture, focusing on the further development of participatory research methods. A key role will
have ICT in particular in providing new information management systems and better communication
between the different actors. In the future ICT will also play an important role in communicating
values and providing tools for consumers to enable ethical decision making concerning food (already
tested in the organic food sector in a pioneer phase.
European agriculture faces specific challenges but at the same time Europe has a unique potential
for the development of agro-ecology based solutions that must be supported through well focused
research. TP Organics believes that the most effective approaches to agriculture and food research
will be systems-based, multi- and trans-disciplinary, taking into account the interconnections between
biodiversity, dietary diversity, functional diversity and health must be taken into account.
Finally the action plan identifies six themes which could be used to organise research and innovation
activities in agriculture under Europe’s 8th Framework Programme on Research Cooperation:
Eco-functional intensification A new area of agricultural research which aims to harness
beneficial activities of the ecosystem to increase productivity in agriculture.
The economics of high output / low input farming - Developing reliable economic and
environmental assessments of new recycling, renewable-based and efficiency-boosting
technologies for agriculture
Health care schemes for livestock - Shifting from therapeutics to livestock health care
schemes based on good husbandry and disease prevention.
Resilience and “sustainability” - Dealing with a more rapidly changing environment by
focusing on ‘adaptive capacity’ to help build resilience of farmers, farms and production
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methods. From farm diversity to food diversity and health and wellbeing of citizens - Building
on existing initiatives to reconnect consumers and producers, using a ‘whole food chain’
approach to improve availability of natural and authentic foods.
Creating centres of innovation in farming communities - A network of centres in Europe
applying and developing trans-disciplinary and participatory scientific approaches to support
innovation among farmers and SMEs and improving research capacities across Europe.[58]
4.13 The third SCAR Foresight exercise
The purpose of the 3rd Foresight Exercise (FEG3) of the Standing Committee on Agriculture
Research (SCAR) is to update the state of some critical driving forces and to focus on the transition
towards an agricultural and food system in a resource-constrained world. Rising resource prices in
recent years, combined with increasing global demand for resources due to a growing population and
increasing wealth, have brought the issue of resource scarcity to the forefront of the political agenda.
In light of agricultural production in a 30-40 years perspective, the following issues were identified as
most critical: (1) “Classical” or “old” scarcities related to natural resource use: fertile land, freshwater,
energy, phosphorus, and nitrogen, (2) “New” scarcities related to environmental limits that aggravate
the “classical” scarcities: climate change including ocean acidification and biodiversity loss, and (3)
Societal contributions that aggravate these scarcities but can also become important pathways for
transitions to sustainable and equitable food consumption and production.
The report is looking from 2 different perspectives, from a productivity perspective or narrative and
from a sufficiency perspective or narrative, when outlining transition pathways. A special subchapter
(6.3.4) is describing trends, drivers and barriers with regard to Information and Communication
Technologies (ICT): “The solution to the problem of future scarcities of natural resources will primarily
be found in technological innovation and changes in consumer and producer behaviour, production
systems and the market. New technologies, underpinned by ICT, will help deliver greater efficiency in
resource use and greater resource substitution. ICT will also be critical in helping bring about the
behavioural changes needed for future sustainable lifestyles. Increasingly, successful agricultural
innovation is about accessing, adapting and applying locally-relevant information and techniques,
available ‘just-in-time’ to respond to rapidly changing opportunities and threats Increasingly, ICTs
empower farmers as innovators by providing:
‘smarter’ and more locally appropriate and productive inputs; more effective cultivation and
production techniques;
risk mitigation strategies and skills;
support to farmers as active participants in the innovation process.
ICTs are invaluable as increasingly sophisticated farm management tools. as farming enterprises will
make much greater use of decision-support systems in a drive to maximise production efficiency and
minimise costs. ”With regard to barriers and policies for ICT, the report concludes that “In order to
fully realise the benefits of ICTs, there are three broad prerequisites that must be provided: access,
capacity (skills) and applications (services). Access refers to both the hardware and the underlying
infrastructure. Both must be reliable and affordable; additionally, infrastructure must be ubiquitous.
The capacity or skills to use ICTs are the second requirement. These skills are required to varying
degrees at several levels along a continuum ranging from basic end-users (e-literacy) to ICT
specialists with highly developed technical skills. Lastly, there must be applications and services that
are relevant, localised and affordable. This requires developing countries, in particular, to undertake
a complex set of policy, investment, innovation and capacity-building measures, in close coordination
with international donors, the private sector and other partners, to encourage the growth of locally
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49
appropriate, affordable and sustainable ICT infrastructure, tools, applications and services for the
agriculture sector and the rural economy.[31]
4.14 Cologne declaration
The Cologne Declaration was prepared at the European conference GeoFARMatics 2010 in Cologne
in Germany, which was organised by the EU-funded projects FutureFarm, agriXchange and the
CAPIGI network. The Cologne Declaration recognises that agri-food and rural ICT must be an
essential part of the European Digital Agenda for 2020.New changes in the global food supply,
growing demands on food quality and quantity, energy demands and environmental aspects
introduce new demands on future knowledge management. The objective of future knowledge
management has to be focused on the agri-food and rural communities to be able to react
adequately to these changes. For this reason, knowledge management has to become part of the
agri-food and rural production system. This requires a clear vision, which has to be based on
discussions with farmers, experts, politicians and other stakeholders. The single digital market,
Future Internet, sharing of knowledge, social networks, protection of data and open access to
information will be essential for farming and rural communities.
The imperative aspects are the following:
Policy and Leadership
o including representatives of ICT for agriculture and rural development specialists into
the legislative processes of the European Communities leading to the definition of
priorities of the Digital Agenda;
o raising awareness and establishing a social platform for exchange of information among
key participants, especially rural communities;
o supporting a platform for standardisation of information inside rural communities and the
agri-food sector but also between the agri-food sector and other sectors;
o including rural knowledge management as an essential part of the future European
Strategic Development plan;
o building a coherent strategy for rural public sector information management.
Research and Innovation- The development of knowledge-based systems for the farming
sector has to be supported by ICT focused on:
o Future Internet and Internet of things including sensor technology and machine to
machine communication;
o Service Oriented Architecture as a key element of architectures for future knowledge
management systems;
o The power of social networks and social media or so called knowledge internet;
o Management and accessibility of geospatial information as a key information source for
any decision;
On the application side the focus has to be on:
o ICT applications for the complete traceability of production, products and services
throughout a networked value chain including logistics;
o Collaborative environments and trusted sharing of knowledge and supporting
innovations in agri-food and rural areas, especially supporting food quality and security;
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Final SRA
o ICT applications supporting the management of natural resources and rural
development.
Future Technological Solutions - Future Internet architectures must reflect the needs and
specificity of rural communities. It has to be resilient, trustworthy and energy-efficient and
designed to support open access and increasing heterogeneity of end-points. Networks
should sustain a large number of devices, many orders of magnitude higher than the current
Internet, handle large irregular information flows and be compatible with ultra-high capacity,
end-to-end connectivity. Service Oriented Architectures have to provide methods for
systems development and integration where systems group functionality around business
processes and package these as interoperable services. The future development of
technology has to be based on a broader use of social networks. It is important to support
the development of machine-readable legislation, guidelines and standards to integrate
management information systems with policy tools.
Standardisation - Integration and orchestration among services based on semantic
integration of collaborative activities, including semantic compatibility for information and
services, as well as ontologies for collaboration will be a major priority for future solutions.
Social organisation of knowledge management - The concept of Trust Centres has to
represent an integrated approach to guarantee the security aspects for all participants in the
future farm. There will be a growing importance of protection of privacy and I Intellectual
Property Rights (IPR) because trust of information is one from the priorities for all rural
communities. Pan European Social Networks have to support trust centres and enable such
technologies as cloud applications and which will have to guarantee knowledge security.
Social and Human Aspects - Rural businesses are usually small or medium-sized
businesses according to the number of people they employ and so knowledge management
and internal processes are different from large companies. Future knowledge systems have
to be based on each community’s own concepts of value, cultural heritage and a local vision
of a preferred future. The objective is to develop human-centred reference models of
sustainable rural life-styles that overcome social divisions and exclusion and include unique
rural features and create new rural businesses and social infrastructures and attractive
computer-based education.
Environmental Aspects - Societal and political pressures for increased environmental
standards are expected. It will be necessary to discuss such aspects as the use of GM
production and environmental aspects of bio fuel production. These aspects will, on one
side, require exact economical, health and environmental mathematical analysis and, on the
other side, public discussion and e participation on such decisions.
The Cologne Declaration entreats all public and private agents to create a new strategic framework
of cooperation to promote:
Defined key objectives for the agri-food and rural Digital Agenda for 2020;
Support for the development of future internet technologies and the internet of things;
Support for social networking to reach consensus about future environmental, economic and
social priorities of agri-food and rural strategies;
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The initiation of a continuous e-conference of all stakeholders to define a clear future
strategy and priorities;
Support for new ICT and knowledge-based solutions supporting the development of future
generations of rural businesses;
Support the development of knowledge technologies to guarantee, in the future, high quality
food production;
Open public discussion on how to solve future problems and to secure food production
versus the production of energy and environmental benefits. [40].
4.15 Vision, Strategic Research Agenda and Third Implementation Action Plan
(2009) of the European Agriculture Machinery Industry (Subplatform AET of
the Technology Platform MANUFUTURE
The proposals of AET in their vision, Strategic Research Agenda and their Action Plan emphasise
the need for research in the following areas: Sustainable Plant Production: Smart Sustainable
Agricultural Production Machines Systems and Architectures, Innovative power train technology in
mobile working machines, Safe Workplace 2025 / Future Agri Human Machine Interfaces. Improved
machine efficiency, Sustainable Animal Production: Innovative and Animal Welfare related Milking
Technology, systems for small and medium-sized livestock units (SMLU) and organic farms (OF),
Climatisation of animal facilities. Bioenergy and Renewable Materials: Biomass provision concepts
for future biofuel applications. Harvesting and provision chains for new agricultural biomass residues,
etc. For these technological applications the use of information technologies and sensors play an
important role [58].
4.16 ICT Agri Eranet
ICT-AGRI is the 7th Framework Programme for Research ERA-NET project. ERA-NET has to
develop and strengthen the European Research Area in the area of ICT for Agriculture through
practical initiatives coordinating regional, national and European research programmes in this field
[41]. There are four objectives of ICT-AGRI:
Mapping and analysis of existing research and future needs;
Development of instruments and procedures for transnational funding activities;
Development of strategic transnational research agenda and programmes;
Establishing and maintaining of international collaborations and networks.
The main results of ICT Agri, which are important for agriXchange, are:
ICT-AGRI Fact Sheet;
Analysis of existing research and future needs identified by French actors;
Reports on the organisation of research programmes and research institutes in 15
European countries.
There are important facts recognised by ICT-AGRI Fact Sheet:
The agricultural sector is currently facing a conflicting challenge: to produce more food and
maintain high food quality and animal welfare standards while reducing agriculture’s
environmental footprint.
Information and communication technologies (ICTs) can help farmers address these issues,
but European research on the use of ICTs in agriculture is fragmented.
The ICT-AGRI is trying to coordinate European research in this important area to ensure that
the massive potential of ICTs in the farming sector is not wasted [42].
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Inside of ICT Agri project the French national network has identified the following challenges:
Obvious lack of interfacing tools able to manage and use "intelligently" the knowledge bases
provided by the many data collection systems.
Need to develop "global information systems" to monitor and run the farm that include all the
levels (e.g. for livestock production: management at animal, herd and farm levels) and
beyond the farm (e.g.: "quality" traceability after processing).
Too specific an offer from software manufacturers and one that is insufficiently interoperable
Shortage of software designed to manage the fleet of equipment and sites.
Emphasis to be placed on the exporting/sharing of information among all the actors in the
production sector as part of a "paperless" approach.
Encouraging the development of open source software and related interfaces.
Necessary development of models and tools allowing for planning, supervision, forecasting
and decision support.
Building of operational decision-making processes.
Computer models of farms helping to analyse and to devise work organisation methods and,
more generally, resource management.
Necessary development of new sensors.
Development of research on wireless sensor networks.
Concern for managing the energy autonomy of sensors.
Need to move towards a greater integration of automated systems in the farm’s global
information system.
Effort required to have systems that are easy to use and within the reach of end-users.
Inclusion of integrity/security dimensions essential for the dissemination of automated and
robotic solutions on the market.
Special responses to be given to certain specific production sectors at national level like
Wine growing/tree cultivation, Forestry sector, Organic matter spreading, Confined animal
production systems.
Need to develop fresh disruptive approaches combining performance and production quality.
Need to develop model-based anticipatory and predictive control systems.
New technologies derived from robotics to do away with hard, tedious tasks.
Special requirements of the agronomic risk management chain.
Ever obvious shortage of interoperability, both for data collection systems and for system
software packages.
Need for financial support to encourage actors to take part in standardisation groups.
Need to have methods and results for the performance assessment of systems proposed for
Precision Agriculture and Precision Livestock Breeding, with a multi-criteria approach.
Need for collective dynamics between users and suppliers and for collective organisation
methods to be developed promoting the dissemination of these technologies.
Promote a "use-centred" design approach.
Re-examination of the value chain.
Seminal effect of the "Energy" dimension.
Facilitator effect of new environmental requirements.
Possibility to reduce investment levels by pooling certain technological components.
Advisable to take into account the uncertainties regarding sensor data and related
processing.
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Strongly advisable to set up both initial and continuing training modules [43].
The country report of ICT Agri was focused on the following areas:
ICT applications to be used in primary agricultural or horticultural production, including online
resources.
Automated or semi-automated machinery, equipment for primary agricultural or horticultural
production.
Standardisation of data dictionaries and communication protocols for use in primary
agricultural or horticultural production.
ICT and automation in environmental regulation of primary agricultural or horticultural
production.
Effects of ICT and automation on competitiveness, profitability, and environmental impacts
of agricultural or horticultural production.
Business structures in sale and support of ICT and automated machinery in agricultural or
horticultural production.
The country report includes 210 research institutes relevant to the ICT-AGRI research area. The
country report also has some important limitations. During the next mapping step, done via the ICT-
AGRI Meta Knowledge Base, more specific information about research projects and profiles of
researchers and research organisations will be mapped. The result will give a clear overview of the
current strengths and gaps in the research area of ICT and robotics in agriculture and agri-
environment [44].
ICT Agri is currently also working on an own SRA. The document is not yet available. The idea is to
use both results for future work under the umbrella of EFITA (or eventually some other network).
4.17 agriXchange analysis of data exchange in agriculture in the EU27 &
Switzerland
The report highlights the results of research on the current situation of data exchange in EU member
states and Switzerland. The current situation was a compilation of a literature review and
investigation of the state of the art in these countries.
In arable farming so called precision agriculture (PA) is one of the driving forces for data exchange
and issues related to data formats and interface standardisation. Currently, new automation, ICT and
GIS technologies provide solutions for steering and controlling site-specific production systems to
fulfil requirements of safe, efficient, environment friendly and traceable production. To enable
compatibility between different system parts that are needed in performing PA, an information
management system which uses open system interfaces and ICT standards, such as ISOBUS, and
efficient data transfer are required.
Much effort has been placed towards spatial data harmonisation in the past and positive results are
emerging especially in efforts towards standardisation work of the Open Geospatial Consortium, Inc.
(OGC) and ISO/TC211 Geographic Information/Geomatics. Another relevant harmonisation work is
related to the INSPIRE Directive. The scope of standard development of ISO/TC 211 is also relevant
and includes information technology, GIS, Remote Sensing (RS), Global Position System (GPS) and
other advanced concepts, models, patterns and technical methods. Geography Markup Language
(GML) identical to ISO standard 19136:2007 provides a variety of kinds of objects for describing
geography including features, coordinate reference systems, geometry, topology, time, units of
measure and generalised values.
The implications of ICT and data transfer in livestock production directly affect consumers in terms of
awareness and knowledge of consumers, information transfer for food safety, animal health and
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welfare, efficient plant and animal production and sustainability of production systems. Expected ICT
developments in the coming years include developments towards external storage of farmer’s data to
cater for increasing amount of data produced. Centralised management information’s systems, with
internet-based cloud support are foreseen.
Geographical Positing Systems (GPS) is seen to become a of future agricultural technology in terms
recording field data collection, yield mapping automated Variable Rate Applications (VRA) in seeding
and fertilising amongst others.
According the results of the research, arable farms are largest in the Czech Republic, Denmark, UK
and France. The largest dairy farms were in Denmark, Cyprus, Czech Republic and the UK.
Farm automation level: by characterising precision farming (PF) as a measure of farm automation, in
most EU countries, PF is only used to a small extent by farmers. However, there is a significant
difference in areas across Europe, in Western and North Europe and for example in Czech Republic
there is more progress in PF development. Manufacturers of agricultural machines are the main
booster for adaptation of PF techniques in developed countries such as Germany, the Netherlands,
Denmark and Finland.
In general big differences all over Europe can be seen in data integration at process level. The
availability and accessibility of (broadband) Internet in rural areas is an issue in most countries.
Except from some countries like Germany, France, Denmark, Belgium and the Netherlands, no
(private) unions or bodies are reported who take care of the organisation of dataflow or
standardisation.
In many EU countries data definitions (semantics) have only public standards (XML schemas and
web services for example) mentioned. Standards definitions such as ISOBUS are available for
example machinery (ISObus), milking equipment (ISO 11788 ADED), electronic animal identification
(ISO 11784/11785/14223 and 24631) or forestry (ISO 19115), ISOagrinet (international), Agro EDI
Europe and Edaplos (France), AgroConnect (The Netherlands) were reported. However, data
integration along the whole food chain from farm to consumer is still lacking.
Analysis of the European area points out that it can be divided into four different levels of maturity on
data integration. The levels are; countries with none or hardly any data integration, those with poorly
developed data systems, countries with rather well developed systems and countries with quite well
developed data integration systems.
Education and demonstration about new technology adaptation, agricultural software, available
databases and digital information sources can help farmers to develop usage possibilities. Also
implementation of the (most easy) best practices from other EU regions in addition to use and
connections to existing global standards is needed.
Private businesses need coordinated organisation in setting up integrated systems for agriculture.
Countries with rather good data integration (Scandinavian states, CZE, GBR, IRL, BEL, CH) were
reported to demonstrate progressive involvement by private organisation within the past years.
The final level, level 4, are countries with fairly well developed data integration (FRA, DEU, NLD,
DNK). In these countries, system assessment and move towards open/shared communities is
already in place. Infrastructure based on hub structures (such as in communicating and transporting
systems) are also available.
The high-technology, high agricultural diversity cluster appears in countries like Finland, Spain,
Germany and Italy. They are characterised by a fairly high degree of organisation among
stakeholders in agricultural data exchange and good technical infrastructure availability.
Networking challenged cluster includes countries like Belgium, Denmark and the Netherlands. Within
these countries, open cooperation, also on the international level is an issue. Overcoming the
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situation can be achieved by forming open networks and enhancing exchange of knowledge,
technologies and information between the public and the private sector.
The infrastructure challenged cluster consists of the countries Bulgaria, Greece, Ireland, Latvia,
Lithuania, and Portugal. Within these countries, wireless broadband connectivity or even basic
internet connectivity needs to be enhanced in rural areas. Information and education about
agricultural software, available databases and digital information sources can help farmers to
develop a view on benefits and usage possibilities.
To cater for the disparities of technological adaptation in different sections in the EU regions, the
following recommendations are given. In regions with most small farms and poor farmers usually no
standardisation and hardly any ICT is available, it is recommended that data structures should be
organised by public services to get developments started. The import of systems and data standards
through private business (through multinational trade) will help as well. Last recommendation for this
region is to copy knowledge (learn) from obligatory public services from other countries with
structured and standardised ICT systems for agricultural data transfer. The regions with problems
related to aging of farmers hence low rates of adaption of ICT by farmers, it is recommended in these
countries that the effect of adapting new technology should be demonstrated, and reinforced by
education, not only for learning purposes but also to create a new and enthusiastic working
environment for younger aged workers.
Build reliable public (CAP) services and extend them with Web Services to provide private business
with development opportunities for standardisation and practical implementation of CAP in the EU
countries. International initiatives are needed, too, and stronger countries in ICT should take the lead
in new international data integration initiatives and use international/global standardisation bodies like
ISO or UN/CEFACT.
Combine/redesign the best of several standards in different nations, like EDI-teelt – agroXML -
EDaplos.
In closing, the following general conclusions are given as big challenges in data exchange currently
and in future. For improving business in the agri-food supply chain networks, investment is needed in
creating trust and awareness in the chain, adoption of new technology by means of open innovations
is needed, new collaborative and service-oriented infrastructures are to be developed, implementing
business process standards and service-oriented approaches should be practiced, and standards set
against the backdrop of current EU policy should set, chosen and adopted. The policy implications
controlling efficient data inquiry for boosting CAP in the EU is crucial. EU or national governments
should play active roles directing the development of data standards. Private-public partnership is
needed to address issues with limited investment possibilities, especially in small domains and
countries. Involvement of public organisations in the setup of (private-public) collaborative data
infrastructure can be achieved through the initiation of common data structures in the EU, through
the initiation of (further) research on the implementations of common data structures and through
stimulating the availability of (broadband) internet infrastructure and capacity in rural areas. It is
discussed that the investigation was meant to provide an overview of the state of the art in data
exchange as bias for further project work.
The identification of key factors for the added value generated by a common data exchange system
was not precisely elaborated. The quantification of the benefits arising from overcoming these
barriers is beyond the scope of this analysis. Finally, as a recommendation, benefits arising from
overcoming the barriers discussed in this report should be quantified through future research. The
effect of adopting new technologies needs to be clearly demonstrated in EU countries and societies.
Data integration through open networks should be actively organised in these near years [45].
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4.18 Conclusions from the overview of past activities
In our analysis we looked on several projects and documents focused on a vision of future ICT for
agri-food or eventually ICT for rural development. There were a number of really technological
projects, which are not mentioned (WirelessInfo, PreMathMod, c@r, COIN IP, SmartAgriFood,
agINFRA). The results of these projects are already partly overcome, and results or technological
visions of some of them will be used in the next chapters.
If we compare the changes in recommendations during the last ten years, we can see the biggest
progress in deployment of communication infrastructure. The progress in deployment of
infrastructure in Europe was very fast and changes from one year to the other were visible. About a
big part of Europe we can say that almost anybody has potential access to broadband (in rural
regions with lower bandwidths), that there is almost complete coverage of Europe by GSM and large
parts of Europe are covered by 3G technologies. Important phenomena become WIFI technologies.
Through WIFI hotspots you have the chance to connect to the Internet in many places in Europe.
The potential of WIMAX (Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access) is not used in full scale
yet. There is approximately 10 years of delay in developing countries in the implementation of the
infrastructure. But current status shows a fast development of mobile networks.
Already the “Study on Availability of Access to Computer Networks in Rural Areas” recognised that
the take up of new solutions into practice and also research in agri-food and rural applications is
slower than the deployment of the infrastructure. We can see that application priorities are not
changing so fast. For example some priorities including support for networking of organisations and
support for traceability can be seen as a major priority for the whole period. The big problem is
information exchange and interoperability. The reasons of these problems are:
In many analysed studies social aspects were mentioned, in many countries the rural
population is older with lower education than urban communities. This is one of the reasons
of low take up in rural regions.
Until now the connectivity and availability of data infrastructure in rural regions is lower.
If we are looking on agri-food sector, we can recognise one important difference. Food
market is globalised and food market requires global information. Till now agro production is
mainly locally oriented and is working mainly with local information. The use of global
information in farms is limited. There is also a problem, that farming software is fragmented
and usually is developed by local developers. There is exception like precision farming
system developed by big machinery producers, but usually this software covers only small
segment of farming production. It was already recognise by Future Farm and ICT Agri, that
future farming decision making has to be built on global information and that in future this
global information will be necessary for farm competitiveness. This will also help to farming
sector to compete with food sector, which is acting locally.
If we are analysing all the previous results, we can recognise one other important fact. The research
in ICT for Agri-food sector is diversified and different research group are not acting together. We can
see that in many projects the same exercises with similar results are repeated and usually there is no
long-term sustainability for the ICT Agri-food research.
The allocation of resources for the ICT for Agriculture research is another issue to be solved. The
financing is partly coming through the ICT programme, partly through the KBBE programme. The
current programmes are particularly focused on ICT in agriculture and it would be useful to organise
a cross-programme joint calls focus on research in this area.
As a conclusion from the overview of past activities, the following areas are necessary to support:
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The take up of new ICT technologies in primary production.
Long-term suitability of ICT research and support for long-term vision for RTD development
in the agri-food sector.
Better implementation of ICT RTD results into practice.
Strong professional organisation which will unify different efforts of different research and
development groups, but which will be also able to protect interests of communities. The
candidate for such an organisation could be EFITA, but there will be necessary to change its
organisation structure.
It is important to renew dialogues between politicians to focus on ICT for rural regions as
part of the Horizon 2020 activities.
Due to the global character of agriculture and food production and the fact that agriculture
production influences and is influenced by environment, it is important to improve dialogue
and transfer of knowledge between developed and developing countries.
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5 Future Trends in ICT -
Future Internet, Open
Data and Open Source
This chapter describes current trends, which could help ICT for agri-food developers in future to
overcome part of problems with standardisation and interoperability mainly on the level of data
access and data standardisation, in some cases on the level of information standardisation and partly
also on the level of knowledge exchange. These trends are:
Future Internet;
Open Source;
Open Data.
5.1 ICT vision of Future Internet
Future Internet is a general term for research activities on new architectures for the Internet.
Approaches towards a future Internet range from small, incremental evolutionary steps to complete
redesigns (clean slate) and architecture principles, where the applied technologies shall not be
limited by existing standards or paradigms such as client server networking, which, for example,
might evolve into co-operative peer structures. The fact that an IP address denotes both the identifier
as well as the locator of an end system, sometimes referred to as semantic overload, is an example
of a conceptual shortcoming of the Internet p