Aquamonitrix® will play an important role in nutrient monitoring and management as part of a large-scale European project combining novel food production approaches, such as aquaponics and closed/semi-closed hydroponic greenhouses. The project will also include open-field vegetable cultivation in Greece and Spain, where water stress is a growing challenge.
This EU-funded demonstration project will bring together a team of 20 research groups and companies across Europe to develop and demonstrate circular-economy solutions along the farm-to-fork food production chain.
The project, due to commence in October, will seek to combine novel food production approaches, with monitoring using space observation technologies and digital monitoring solutions, including Aquamonitrix®.
Circularity in nutrient management is to be achieved by producing on-site bio-fertilisers from the wastewater streams of the hydroponic greenhouses. Other aspects of the project will focus on maximising crop yields and reducing pesticide use.
Nutrient management is core to the success of circular-economy food production. Macronutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium need to be supplied at a sufficient rate for healthy plant growth, but not so much that they become toxic. Equally, excess nutrient application can lead to groundwater deterioration, threatening drinking water supplies, and eutrophication of surface waters, leading to oxygen depletion and algae blooms. So, it is important to get the balance right.
In particular. where nutrients are recycled in closed or semi-closed systems like aquaponics and hydroponics, affordable high-frequency analysis is required to balance feed levels and water quality.
In addition to employing the commercial Aquamonitrix® nitrate and nitrite analyser, the Aquamonitrix team will develop the technology readiness of its novel nutrient analysers for ammonia and phosphate, which are currently at varying stages in the R&D and NPI processes.
Data from the monitoring technologies will be fed to a cloud-based Farm Management System, integrating machine learning algorithms to enable informed and automated decisions, will the overall goals of optimising crop health and yield while reducing nutrient loss and pesticide and fertiliser use.
In addition to employing the commercial Aquamonitrix® nitrate and nitrite analyser (pictured above), the Aquamonitrix team will develop the technology readiness of its novel nutrient analysers for ammonia and phosphate
This project is funded by the EU H2020 programme
The co-ordinator of the PESTU project is CERTH, a centre for research and technology based in Thessaloniki, Greece. The project also involves another Irish partner, Trilateral Research, which has offices in Waterford and London.