DEMETER – Empowering Farmers

Building an Interoperable, Data-Driven, Innovative and Sustainable European Agri-Food Sector

Project timeline: Sep. 2019 – Feb. 2023

Financing: €17.7 million from the EU funding program Horizon 2020

Partners: 60 partners in 18 countries

Project coordinator: Waterford Institute of Technology (Ireland)

Tasks of FIT: Implementation of the multi-actor approach, interoperability mechanisms, e.g. semantic data models, artificial intelligence and data analysis

The H2020 EU project "DEMETER – Empowering Farmers" promotes digitization in the agricultural and food sector. Digital technologies are being developed and tested specifically for the requirements of agriculture in order to optimize workflows and bring long-term sustainability into the value chain.

Food production must double by 2050 due to the rise in global population and peoples’ changing eating habits. At the same time, the agricultural sector is facing the effects of climate change on biodiversity, soil and water quality as well as the demands of the global market. Digitalization for internal and external networking and the use of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) are of central importance in modern agriculture. Accessing data in real time is already optimizing processes and moving the value chain in a more sustainable direction. Farmers use modern sensor and analysis systems exactly for this purpose, however often face problems with interoperability where not all technologies have the ability to seamlessly work together. The EU project, "DEMETER – Empowering Farmers," is aimed at tackling this challenge.

FIT for the future: Using digitalization to make agriculture more sustainable and efficient

In the DEMETER project, Fraunhofer FIT and a total of 60 partners are working together to develop and test a standardized user-centered IoT network, which will provide farmers data security as well as increased productivity and efficiency in their work processes. A unified interoperable ecosystem with a comprehensive agricultural information model will establish a foundation for information and decision-making across all levels - from soil properties, water and energy management, harvesting and livestock farming to agricultural equipment. This requires the networking of various IT platforms for the management of data, services, M2M (machine-to-machine) communication and online intelligence. This is to be achieved through the use of 38,000 devices and sensors from a variety of production areas (dairy, meat, vegetable, fruit and arable farming), production systems (conventional and organic) and various farm sizes and types, which will be integrated into the different systems.

The project will make significant contributions including:

  • Networking of machines in agriculture using a service platform
  • Use of different technologies, such as IoT sensor networks or satellite images and agricultural platforms for efficient water and energy management
  • Use of dashboards for farmers with AI-based forecasts and decision support systems for animal and health products
  • Use of IoT and ground robots to optimize the precision landscape in Mediterranean timber construction (apple, grape and olive cultivation)
  • Integration of machine data combined with crop and field-specific information to advise farmers on how to optimize field management

DEMETER pilot projects in 18 countries

For the evaluation of the DEMETER system, 6000 farmers as well as 25 sites in 18 countries are involved: Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Montenegro, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey, United Kingdom. They represent a large portion of the value chain for the agricultural and food sector. Additionally, the communication exchange between different systems and platforms will be a special focus.

Fraunhofer FIT in DEMETER

Fraunhofer FIT is responsible for the implementation of the Multi-Actor Approach within the project and also for the user-centered development of the system. This means that the project addresses real problems and opportunities within the agricultural sector. On the other hand, FIT ensures that all relevant stakeholders are involved in the project activities from start to finish and that they plan and implement the solutions together. Fraunhofer FIT contributes its knowledge and experience in the fields of data science and artificial intelligence for the development of a standards-based, seamlessly cooperating ecosystem with a comprehensive agricultural information model to the project. Existing IT platforms will be used and further developed to intelligently support the integration of heterogeneous technologies and systems. DEMETER will ensure better interoperability and quality of data from numerous different sources and support decisions in a traceable way.