The success of FarmBox is in the Consortium’s composition, which has been created following the project activities and taking into consideration the experience of Partners during Covid-19, their expertise on the topic, their networks and/or degree of target groups’
representativeness, their interest on Climate Smart Agriculture and their added value.
As a result, the Partnership involves: 3 educational institutions with recognized expertise on agriculture or correlated topics; a Chamber of Commerce representing project’s target group and final user of the results and a SME providing satellite-based services for agriculture.
Every month we are going to discover more about the FarmBox’s partners and the genesis of this project. At this round, we are going to meet Uptoearth GmbH.
Can you present yourself and Uptoearth?
I am Filippo Iodice and I am the CEO of Uptoearth GmbH, a German start-up founded in 2019 and incubated in CESAH, the ESA Business Incubation Centre (ESA BIC) of Hessen & Baden-Württemberg region.
The objective of the Company is the provision of consultancy and the development of hardware and software for services in the areas of aerospace, earth observation, agriculture and environmental protection.
What is the role of Uptoearth in FarmBox?
Uptoearth is responsible for designing the online Simulator, appointing our previous experience with the ESA BIC. Moreover, we are going to contribute to the design of the MOOC about Climate Smart Agriculture.
Can you explain a bit more what is the online Simulator and its contribution to the project?
The online Simulator is a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) included in a web portal which is expected to support projective simulations based on deterministic models. The simulation environment, in fact, will be able to provide simplified and immediate use of “forecast” indications inherent to the progress of the Soil Organic Carbon (SOC) and Soil Inorganic Carbon (SIC) according to the agricultural practices adopted and attributable to the Climate Smart Agriculture approach.
Therefore, the greatest innovation we foresee for the Simulator is its flexibility and user-responsiveness: not only it will be a suitable training and learning tool that offers simulation-based education and improves trainers and learners’ confidence with agritech, but it will be also used as forecasting and management tool for learners and farmers in order to experience project-based learning.
What’s the importance of offering Open Education Resources (OERs)?
This is the first time for our company that we develop educational contents but it is not the first time that we work with open data and open resources and we strongly believe that openness of data, research and education has a lot of advantages and above all, they offer equal opportunities to all. Open Education Resources (OERs), in fact, result in a more affordable and accessible training for all, from students to workers and perfectly adapt to the need of lifelong learning and also to the needs of different users who cannot fit into a traditional one-size-fits-all model. OERs offer a lot of flexibility in terms of accessibility (you can access anytime, several times, wherever you are) and in terms of contents’ proposal, customizing the offer to the different audience they are addressed to. This aspect was crucial for our project since we want to address not only small farmers but also students and future workers in this sector.
What are the benefits for students and farmers who are going to access to the project results?
At the end of the project we expect that learners and farmers will acquire professional skills about Climate Smart Agriculture, becoming more sensitive to the adoption and design of more sustainable practices, in particular in the case of critical climate scenarios. Moreover, we expect to provide new digital tools for agricultural subjects and foster the access for trainers and learners to open educational contents, tools and environment.
Therefore, on the one hand we want to equip more responsible and responsive farmers with key competences on climate change adaption practices (soil and water management, climate resilient crops etc). On the other hand, we want to trigger agricultural education’s responsiveness, adaptability and flexibility to current (Covid-19) and future challenges and allow the the digitalization of agricultural education.
Why do you think is important to shed lights on Climate Smart Agriculture?
It is important to focus on a more responsible agriculture for the climate since this sector is an important contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and a significant consumer of drinking water resources, but above all it occupies a significant part of our Earth. Agriculture plays an important and crucial role in the economies of countries, but, at the same time its impacts on climate change are negative.
I believe that this trend can be reversed and we can still determine the opposite effect. To do this, in my opinion, we need to rely on technology. I believe that technological innovation can be a leverage that can address some of the environmental, social, economic challenges and opportunities in food cultivation. Looking at the past, technology and various types of innovation can serve as a tool for improving the productivity and well-being of the Earth system. However, we must act to support the farmers and not to replace them.
Therefore, I believe that it is essential to support and develop services and technologies for Climate-Smart Agriculture in order to orient the agricultural processes towards resiliency to climate change and environmental sustainability.