In recent years, the sustainability of the horticultural sector in the region has been questioned due to the environmental impact that this activity could have. This view has been aggravated by the eutrophication of aquifers, partly due to the increase in nitrates and phosphates from agricultural leachates. This, together with other structural problems in the fruit and vegetable sector, is having a negative impact on one of the pillars of the Murcian economy. It is therefore necessary to provide measures and solutions to revitalize the regional agricultural sector. In this line, this project provides innovative solutions and alternatives for the future that will help to strengthen the agricultural sector in Murcia.
This project is based on the parallel development of four fundamental aspects of protected crop production systems:
- Development of an integrated system (hardware) for the management of irrigation, nutrition and climate in greenhouses with soil-less crops in a closed system.
- Development of a multi-layer control architecture for greenhouse crop management based on the latest Internet of Things (IoT) technologies, Cyber-Physical Systems (CPSs) and Cloud Computing software platform. This will allow us to offshore system intelligence and production customization, principles inherited from the Industry 4.0 philosophy.
- Development of an information analysis system (Bigdata), system modeling and decision support to optimize farm profitability, mainly in greenhouses.
- Establishment of optimal agronomic conditions for sustainable production of the so-called “superfoods”, which include berries.
Three leading companies in the region have partnered with two institutions with extensive experience in the development of R&D&I projects to carry out this project. The company Riegos y tecnologías SL will develop an integrated system for irrigation, nutrition and climate management in greenhouses. This will include the management of closed systems. A very important part of the system is an osmosis unit. This will be developed by HIDROTEC, and will be characterized by working with high efficiency and will develop a system to reduce the impact that brine currently has, valorizing this waste and avoiding environmental pollution. OdinS is an EBT company that will develop the multilayer control architecture by means of Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS) in charge of performing the critical tasks and that will act as an interface with the integral system. The CPSs will link to the next level of control (edge computing) that will have the different control modules of the greenhouse (virtualized). A third control layer is in charge of data analysis and Bigdata, where the University of Murcia (UMU) will develop the different modules of the cloud platform in charge of knowledge extraction, modeling and optimization of the system. The UMU will use the latest technologies included in what has been called “Industry 4.0” (Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing, “Big Data” and analytics, , systems integration etc) in order to use the information obtained to model and help the decision in the comprehensive control of crops developed in greenhouses. Finally, the Plant Nutrition Department of CEBAS-CSIC, brings extensive experience in soilless and greenhouse crops and will contribute to establish the optimal conditions for the cultivation of red fruits with high contents of nutraceutical products and high productivity.
Therefore, this project will not only contribute to the revitalization of the agricultural sector in the Region of Murcia, taking advantage of the optimal climatic characteristics of the Region of Murcia, and contributing to the development of sustainable agriculture, but will also place other companies in Murcia at the forefront of technological innovation, being able to apply these technologies to other agricultural production systems and other crops of great interest for the economic development of our Region.