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Dr Roohollah Torabi and Clare Downs of C-Tech Innovation recently attended the project review meeting for one of C-Tech’s EU-funded projects in the agriculture sector, named FIGARO. The meeting was held at the FAO (Farming and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations) building in Rome, Italy. The participants (i.e. the other 16 project partners) were from various academic, industrial and governmental organizations from across Europe, as well as from the FAO itself.

FIGARO or “Flexible and Precision Irrigation Platform to Improve Farm Scale Water Productivity” is a European funded project under the 7th Framework Programme (FP7) for Research and Technological Development. The project aims to increase water productivity in major water-demanding crops and develop a cost-effective precision irrigation platform.

Figaro project meeting
Representatives of the Figaro project partners

C-Tech is in charge of sensor development activities and also contributes to life cycle analysis, as well as exploitation and dissemination activities. As a part of the sensor development process, C-Tech is developing equipment to be used in crop fields that measures the amount of the fertiliser components nitrate, phosphate and potassium (NPK) in irrigation water and soil. This sensor was presented to other partners at the meeting. The sensor is aimed to be ready for testing in farms by a few of the project partners in the coming growing season starting from April 2015.

Rohollah Torabi at the Figaro meeting at the FAO
Dr Rohollah Torabi at the Figaro meeting at the FAO

This sensor has been dubbed “Fertalyser”— combining the words “fertiliser” and “analyser”. C-Tech’s Fertalyser measures the amount of fertilisers in irrigation water or soil at regular intervals and communicatea this information to the FIGARO’s database (UManage) via a radio communication unit up to 5 km radius. This sensor allows farmers to monitor and optimize the amount of fertilisers needed to maximise their yield and minimize the cost. But the benefits don’t stop at the farmers’ level. The sensors also help the environment by reducing the impact fertilisers have on critical natural resources, such as water and soil.

The other project partners also presented their contributions in terms of decision support, simulation, optimization models and tools, irrigation monitoring, control technologies, irrigation strategies, platform integration, farm testing, demonstration and more. The meeting was a great opportunity to catch up with other partners on their current activities and foresee their plans for the coming two years.

If you’d like to know more about C-Tech Innovation’s involvement in Figaro please contact Project Manager Dr Hannah Newton.