A new smart agriculture platform from Evja, which uses Libelium sensors, promises to help salad farmers get crisp, fresh leaves to market faster.
Ready-to-eat salad mixes are popular with shoppers, but growing the leaves themselves isn’t easy. These are cool-weather crops that need care and attention. Local conditions, including limited availability of arable land and energy, can create challenges, while climate change and scarcity of water can also be limiting factors.
In short, to ensure best efficiency in growing salad leaves, producers need to optimize their use of fertilizers, pesticides and watering.
And, as with other crops, farmers need to visit fields regularly to check crops and make decisions about how to ensure optimum growth.
The OPI platform
To help salad farmers address these challenges, Italian start-up Evja has developed an IoT platform designed to help with the production of baby leaves for ready-to-eat salad mixes. The testbed is based in Salerno, southern Italy.
The platform, called OPI (Observe Prevent Improve), brings together hardware from sensor specialist Libelium and software developed by Evja itself.
The Libelium Waspmote Plug & Sense sensors monitor parameters like temperature, relative humidity, air pressure, luminosity and leaf wetness. These were chosen for a number of reasons, according to Evja, including the ability to completely customize their firmware.
Data is passed to the Microsoft Azure cloud using a combination of 4G and LoRaWAN connections and the information is subsequently made accessible to growers through a dashboard. This displays detailed information both collected from the sensors and from elsewhere – for example, local weather data. It is accessible on desktops and mobile devices.
Faster time to market – literally
Evja’s team claims that OPI helps farmers achieve a significant reduction in time to market, helping to reduce production costs. For example, where a farmer spends about €4,000 a year on pesticides per hectare of crops, OPI can lower that cost by 10 percent. These kind of metrics, the company says, mean that OPI will pay for itself in a year.
But this isn’t just about saving money. It’s also about producing a healthier product and a greener outcome from growing activities, by reducing the use of pesticides and reducing chemical residues in the ground.