New Technology Rises on the Urban Farm

Around the world, more and more, human populations are concentrating in cities. The higher the number of city dwellers, the greater the demand for fresh agricultural products both in the United States but also in Europe, Asia and Latin America. And it is precisely here, in the sunny and beautiful land of Italy that AURORAS has begun working alongside farmers in order to improve productivity and management in the business of agriculture.

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AURORAS designs in-house IoT (Internet of Things) tools: interconnected objects equipped with wireless sensors for the monitoring of micro-climatic conditions and plant health.

“We aim to support a more organic, environmentally friendly farming” says founder Paolo Marenghi. The goal is to help towns in supplying fresh and tasty vegetables – through technology. This goal was achieved recently on an urban farm in Castel San Giovanni, a large village near Milano, to which AURORAS provided a wireless sensor platform in order to increase production.

This urban farm is a hydroponic greenhouse of about 1,000 square meters where the farmers primarily grow tomatoes and eggplants. Here, according to Marenghi, “People seek to buy fresh vegetables produced at km 0.” Meaning zero food miles, directly from the farm resulting in less road traffic, less pollution and as local and sustainable as possible.

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In these last years the demand for locally grown produce has been increasing thanks to population growth and a new awareness about what is healthy eating. But people are demanding not just freshness, but also taste.

The AURORAS platform consists of a wireless sensor system for:

  • Accurate irrigation monitoring
  • Checking the ratio of irrigated and drained nutrient solutions
  • Checking of pH and EC
  • Data collection allowing agronomists remote access (via PC, smart phone, tablet, etc)

The data collected from sensor nodes are compiled, day after day, allowing the farmer to know when and how to intervene promptly to reduce treatments, water consumption and fertilizer dosings in a balanced way in order to increase quality and production.

Positive results followed immediately. In March of 2016, the first harvest at Castel San Giovanni saw yeilds 10 days in advance of the previous year with a 23% increase.

But this was only the beginning!

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At the present time, the production of tomatoes is 60 kilos per square meters marking a 60% increase from the previous year. Further, eggplants grown in optimum coniditions, have grown up to 2 meters and produce fleshy fruits highly sought after by Italian consumers.

Increased production, higher yields and healthier plant quality!

Post production analysis confirm there were no pesticide residues and no hazardous chemical inputs entering the food chain.

“Providing sensorized platforms to reduce costs and increase organic production while growing fresh vegetables avalaible to more people. The world is changing and we hope our technology can help the world to change in a better way,” says Paolo Marenghi.

 

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