The iGUESS-MED proposal aims to develop a Decision Support System (DSS) able to effectively manage fertigation and prevent plant diseases and pests in tomato crops grown in soil and soilless in commercial greenhouses of the Mediterranean region. This innovative greenhouse DSS will be developed to (i) help greenhouse farmers to improve the management of fertigation in areas with low (saline) quality waters (ii) to reduce the use of chemicals by a sustainable and integrated pest and disease control and (iii) to improve the climatic efficiency in the existent greenhouse by low-cost climate actions. The DSS will allow obtaining healthier and higher quality productions and higher yields, while will reduce the use of water and the losses of nutrients and chemicals to the environment. iGUESS-MED will be able to manage efficient fertigation, to forecast diseases and pests, and to improve the climatic efficiency in tomato greenhouses, using only climate data acquisition and basic information on cropping system. The DSS will provide feedbacks and alerts about crop needs and real time recommendations to the farmers through friendly portable real time data visualization tools as PC, tablets or smartphones. To achieve this objective, new models for calculating crop evapotranspiration will be performed by integrating sensor data from plant, soil and climate, and forecasting models for assessing disease and pest risks will be developed by using the Integrated Pest Management. The project consortium (research centers, SMEs and end-users of EU and non-EU countries belonging to the Mediterranean basin) will collaborate from the beginning to make the DSS marketable involving, end-users and stakeholders to validate the system in own greenhouses, reducing gaps between research, application developers and farmers. The application of DSS will benefit the workers and the consumers, providing better working conditions, crop healthiness and reduction of environmental impact.
The Overarching goal of iGUESS-MED is to support a transition toward innovative, sustainable and competitive Mediterranean horticultural greenhouses by developing, validating and transferring an pioneering Decision Support System (DSS) for the MED greenhouses, which is able to: (i) reduce the nutrient leakages into sub-surface and groundwaters by optimizing the fertigation management (both irrigation and fertilization) under low quality water conditions (i.e., saline water); (ii) reduce the use of chemicals by a sustainable and integrated pests and diseases control; (iii) increase the productivity by an improved and cost-effective efficiency of climatic control procedures, introducing specific low-cost solutions to apply to pre-existent greenhouse structures (i.e., use of diffusing cover films, improved natural ventilation). The work will be carried out on tomato as reference crop, in soil and soilless culture in low-tech greenhouses typical of the Mediterranean region, by applying participatory and integrated interdisciplinary toolkit of novel and emerging technologies such as sensor technology, IoT, advanced agronomic management, simulation models and self-calibrating mathematical algorithms.
1. To develop a DSS in MED tomato greenhouses for fertigation and irrigation management, pests and diseases control and smart improvement of climate conditions, using climate data, IoT and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to turn high technological solutions into simple tools readily available at operational (farm) level. 2. To develop dedicated protocols to forecast the occurrence of plant pathogens and arthropod pests, boosting biological control in tomato crops grown in MED greenhouses. 3. To introduce innovative management (i.e. closed loop system with drip irrigation and gutter subirrigation; use of bio-based substrates) to facilitate the adoption of efficient fertigation strategies, particularly under conditions of low water quality to ensure limited (or zero) nitrate and phosphate leaching. 4. To create a mutual learning space and to facilitate technology exchange between EU and non-EU MED countries, for boosting capacity building locally, empowering a new generation of innovative and younger entrepreneurs, allowing for gender inclusiveness in working environments and promoting a circular and sustainable greenhouse farming in the MED Basin. 5. To assess the environmental and socio-economic impacts of innovative tomato cropping systems in commercial greenhouses, under a life cycle thinking perspective, thereby highlighting intervention’s cost-effectiveness and gender-related issues. 6. To spread project results and activities to the relevant stakeholders, for promoting life-long learning for target groups, improving market competitiveness and boosting awareness and social acceptance of advanced and sustainable greenhouse cropping in Med countries.
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