Rural areas seek antidote to drought in technology

Little by little, the countryside stops looking at the sky in search of the long-awaited rain. As drought threatens the future of climate, technology has become one of the best resources to alleviate water scarcity. Agricultural companies and startups are creating innovative ecosystems to leverage this resource.

Last year, we went through a challenging period with the rainfall and the duration of the dry and arid climate that characterize the Spanish geography. The Ministry of Environmental Change went so far as to declare 15% of the national territory under emergency and 27% under alert for the same reason due to water scarcity. We experienced another example a few weeks ago when the Generalitat of Catalonia declared phase 2 of a drought emergency in 12 municipalities in the province of Girona.

Rural Spain is one of the sectors most affected by water scarcity. A problem that has ramifications at the economic level, if we take into account It is responsible for 10% of jobs (2.7 million). And the contribution of the agri-food sector exceeds 100,000 million euros (10% of GDP). Now the question everyone is asking is “what is the solution”. Well, some companies have found innovative and disruptive ways to address this challenge in technology, while simultaneously improving water use and increasing the efficiency of agricultural operations. Download the latest issue of elEconomista Agro for free here

A good example is Esri, a company that specializes in geographic information systems (GIS), which have important applications in managing water resources such as aquifers and reservoirs. „GIS uses a variety of information from weather stations, sensors, drones, public and private databases to analyze data, draw conclusions and visualize the results. This technology „This allows us to predict the behavior and control of our hydrographic basins.”Diego Hidalgo del Cid, Industrial Manager, Public Sector at Esri Spain explains.

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The company has designed a hydrological bulletin for the Water General Directorate of the Ministry of Environmental Change and Demographic Challenges, which allows the collection of information on the hydrological situation in the Iberian Peninsula, as well as c.Know the status of reservoirs, rivers and water bodies or the evolution of rainfall and view it in real-time temperature and intuitive and easy-to-use displays.

ESRI's geotechnology is a fundamental part of the Segura Hydrographic Confederation and IMIDA – Murcia Institute for Agricultural and Environmental Research and Pioneering Project. The plan is to capture the bathymetry and topography of the reservoirs with different types of drones and, in a few hours, integrate the images obtained from all parts of the platform and turn them into products available at any time. location or device. That is, images are taken and then geo-tagged, which leads to the creation and assembly of a digital model.

Another case is that Agan, a company specializing in the installation and monitoring of sensors in the livestock sector, and UnaBiz, a global provider and integrator of massive IoT services, have developed a project. Allows farmers to precisely control water consumption in real time In pig farms. To do this, they have installed IoT sensors on the meter that can be monitored instantly by a mobile phone. A solution that allows the extraction of data to support the best use of this resource and it allows monitoring of livestock health as unconventional water consumption patterns are commonly linked to health problems.

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According to Eloy Garrigues, the founder of Aagan, „When the consumption is high or low, the alarm stops. If it rises, it is usually a problem with the installation, a possible leak, but if it falls, it is usually a sign. In one particular case, a lung disease was diagnosed in pigs, Reduction of water consumption and increased coughing of animals.

Disease prevention does not only involve functional improvements But for farmers the only option is to cut costs by acting before extensive veterinary treatment. In addition, greater safety for exploitation is achieved by anticipating possible ventilation problems, pump or motor failures.

Augan uses UnaBiz's 0G network to help farmers monitor environmental conditions within farms. With the placement of IoT sensors at the animal's head level, CO2 and ammonia gases are controlled, and temperature and humidity levels are measured. The aim is to avoid animal stress which may be caused by concentration of two gases and unhealthy environment in the farm.

Manuel Alvarez, Managing Director of UnaBiz assures “Since our inception, we have been working with companies located in rural areas. Recognizes the transformative potential of technology in these areas. Our vision is a connected world powered by simple technology, where less is more. By bringing people and technology together, we help organizations live smarter, simpler and more sustainable.

Create opportunities

Diego Hidalgo from Esri agrees on this point. „When you work at a regional level, you come together in three dimensions: economy, society and environment. It's very important for small startups to have the ability to develop applications. Covers the needs of sectors like agri-food. „It's important to create opportunities and that affects the population challenge.”

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Aragonese startup SpherAg uses IoT to collect data that allows Monitoring and optimizing irrigation in high-value crops such as vineyards; Depending on the weather and requirements. Now he is working on a project being developed at the Parla Innovation Center, which the multinational John Deere has opened in Madrid, and national tractor companies also participate in irrigation systems such as Azud and Metos. Technology Water based best agricultural practices.

The project, which began in October 2022, and with the participation of Pilar Besa, professor of viticulture at the Polytechnic University of Madrid, is an experimental vineyard divided into three sections, where different pruning techniques are used in each of them. These techniques include traditional pruning, minimal pruning and no pruning.

The objective is to evaluate the long-term impact of each type of pruning on vineyard performance and determine which of them is most effective. This approach analyzes and compares the results obtained in each field and provides valuable information on the impact of different pruning strategies on vine cultivation.

According to data from a vineyard success story in Torrent, Valencia, Spain, Almost 50% water saving was observed. Although the specific savings for this project at Parla Innovation Center are yet to be determined, the results are expected to reflect equally positive or favorable water savings.

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