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Wednesday, 05 November 2014 00:00

Members of The European Innovation Partnership (EIP) Focus Group for the Improvement of Efficiency in the Use of Fertilizers in Horticultural Crops visit the UAL-ANECOOP Experiment Farm

Last week, members of the EIP Focus Group for the Improvement of Efficiency in the Use of Fertilizers in Horticultural Crops visited the UAL-ANECOOP Experiment Farm to witness a demonstration in the use of optic sensors to determine the need for fertilizers in horticultural  crops.

The EIP Focus Groups are groups of approximately 20 people who represent the agricultural sector, comprising scientists, dissemination agents, farmers, and business people from different EU countries, who work to identify key activities to improve critical aspects of agriculture, such as, in this case, improving efficiency in the use of fertilizers. Poor efficiency in the use of fertilizers is a serious problem in agriculture because fertilizers that are not absorbed by crops cause important environmental problems, such as eutrophication and aquifer pollution, as well as contributing to global warming. The optic sensors placed on the UAL experiment farm are a form of short distance tele-detection in which the sensors are positioned at a distance of between 1 and 60 cm from the plants.

On the farm, members of the AGR-224 research group belonging to ceiA3, Rodney Thompson, Franisco Padilla, and María Teresa Peña, explained and demonstrated the working of a range of optic sensors under study to improve management of fertilizers in horticultural crops. These sensors are being popularly used for the management of fertilizers in extensive crops such as wheat and corn in North America, but their use in horticulture is non-existent. The AGR-224 group is adapting this technology for horticultural crops in greenhouses.

The EIP Focus Group ( is part of the EIP-AGRI programme whose objective is “to highlight priorities for innovative actions which stimulate the adoption of practices and techniques by the production sector in EU agriculture”. The EIP-AGRI programme is part of the Europe 2020 growth strategy for economic growth and development until 2020, of which the well-known Horizon 2020 Research Programme is also a part. Professor Rodney Thompson is a member of the EIP Focus Group for the improvement in efficiency in the use of fertilizers in horticultural crops.

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