2016: welcome to the year of "pulses"

2016 has been declared the year of pulses: an essential food all around the world. Source UN

2016 is the year of pulses.

Agriculture is crucial to our existence on the planet and it has been so for tens of thousands of years, since our nomadic life, berries eating, ancestors started to tend crops creating the first forms of civilisations. And till very recently there were not computers nor bits in sight.

So, it might seem strange that I chose to open this new year with this reference to the year of pulses.

Actually, agriculture is making more and more use of ICT (Information Communications Technologies):

  • ICT can help in dramatically decreasing the use of insecticides by using sensors in a potato (or other crops) field, by analysing the sound of bugs, so that pesticide is sprayed only when there is a pest and just where the bug is at that particular time. Interested in the sound of a weevil? Check here!
  • ICT is making advanced logistics (a tremendously complex affair) possible. It is thanks to ICT that you get your bananas just ripe on your table, wether they come from Central Africa or Costa Rica, at such a low cost (and they don't rot on the way).
  • It is thanks to ICT that farmers can make more informed decisions on when to harvest, to water, to use pesticide, on where it is more advantageous to sell their crops. 
  • Dedicated software helps farmer in planning, predict yields, suggest what and when to seed, to intercrop or focus on just one crop.
  • ICT is helping researchers in "designing" new crops, fitting areas with very low water, or soaked by rain... Improving yield is a must to feed the planet growing population and making use of now arid areas is a urgent goal.
  • Interestingly ICT can help in backyard farming, or in vertical farming providing each of us ways to grow our own salad, and more, in a sustainable ways... creating amateur farmers communities...

In 2015 we had the Milan EXPO and its heritage has become a program for innovation in human well being and food. A planned investment of 150+ million € per year over the next 10 years to stimulate innovation leveraging the infrastructures created for EXPO.

Some of our Italian Partners are part of this program, that includes aspects like leveraging on (big) data, and one of our goal for 2016 as EIT Digital Italy is to become part of it.

Happy New Year!


Author - Roberto Saracco

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