More than 9 million farmers in Europe, irrigate an area of more than 188.000km² using different
irrigation systems, an area comparable to Greece or 4,5 % of the whole EU territory. Over the past ten years the use of irrigation systems rose approximately 9.5% per year and this trend is expected to continue. According to EUROSTAT, it is expected that over the next 10 years more than 700.000 sprinkler systems and 1.200.000 drip irrigation systems will be sold alone in Europe. Most of these irrigation systems are inefficient and none of them is demand-driven or based on a feedback system.
As a result valuable water resources are wasted and fertilizer is washed out reducing the cost-efficiency of crop production and leading to environmental damages such as eutrophication. There is a clear need for innovative and adapted agricultural technologies and methods that will reduce the risk for investors, guarantee a reliable production and lead to a more sustainable crop production scheme.
Against this situation, the proposing SMEs intend to take an integrated and more proactive approach to the problem. The vast amount of water and fertilizer which is used per hectare every year can be reduced and, in this way, a more efficient, competitive and sustainable agriculture production in Europe is possible. The main objective of OPTIFERT project will be the development and implementation of a demand driven and fully automatic and combined irrigation and fertilization system in order to enable farmers to monitor and control their water and fertilizer consumption. The proposed system will allow a one-step tailor-made supply with fertilizer and water specific for each crop’s needs.