AIT: Digitalisation coupled with agroecology for sustainable agriculture in Europe

AIT'coordinated project PATH2DEA launches to promote sustainability using digital solutions and co-creation processes in European agriculture.

The PATH2DEA project - "Paving the Way towards Digitalisation Enabling Agroecology for European Farming Systems" led by AIT Austrian Institute of Technology was successfully launched on Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023 in Tulln, Austria. The three-year project was funded by the European Union with approximately EUR 2 million and aims to promote digitalisation as an enabler of agroecological farming systems in Europe. It builds on existing digital solutions in the agricultural sector and aligns them with the goals of agricultural producers. The aim is to foster the widespread adoption of digital agroecology in the EU and associated countries in a sustainable manner.

The link between agroecological farming systems and digital tools and technologies has much potential for addressing today's environmental, economic, health and social challenges. PATH2DEA is committed to using the catalytic effect of digitalization to promote the transition of European agriculture towards greater sustainability. The basis should be the farmers’ competences and the ambition to combine them with the wide range of already existing digital solutions. Digital technologies will be adapted to the users’ needs in order to promote a broad implementation of digital agroecological agriculture.

PATH2DEA includes 19 partners and one associated partner from 10 countries and is coordinated by the AIT Competence Unit Bioresources of the Center for Health and Bioresources. Also involved, from the AIT side, are the Center for Innovation Systems & Policy (ISP) and the Center for Digital Safety & Security (DSS). As coordinators, the Bioresources experts will have a strong focus on project management and will be the central point of contact for the project's stakeholders. Another leading task of the group will be the development of an R&I roadmap that will feed into a Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA) and impact EU research policy in the growing field of digital agroecology. ISP will have a central responsibility for stakeholder mapping and will lead the co-creation processes at local and EU level. DSS will contribute to building a sustainable and user-friendly open repository for digital tools and technologies for use in agroecology.

Bringing knowledge and tools together

Six Showcase farms were selected across Europe to integrate hands-on experience in the use and real-life application of digital agroecology and to support co-creation processes and knowledge sharing. PATH2DEA will deliver a robust knowledge base in the frame of an Open Source Repository of digital tools and technologies in agroecology with decision support functionalities and a well-aligned R&I Roadmap for guiding digital agroecology transition.

Although digital tools and technologies are already available for applications in agriculture, their uptake and use are still limited. At the same time, there are strong user-oriented EU initiatives, networks and research projects focusing on agroecology that, however, are lacking a solid knowledge base on relevant digital technologies. PATH2DEA aims to foster connectivity between these isolated, important assets in digital agroecology.

PATH2DEA is part of a whole innovation system.

The project is part of a larger European "agroecology innovation system" and aims to strengthen links with existing and previous initiatives and projects in this field, such as other European projects (e.g. AE4EU, ALL-Ready, SmartAgriHubs) or the future European R&I partnership for agroecology living labs and research infrastructures. The specific task of PATH2DEA in this agroecological innovation system is to create a framework for future research and innovation projects to enable the widespread adaptation of sustainable agroecological agriculture with the help of digital technologies across Europe.

The partners:

  • AIT Austrian Institute of Technology GMBH (AIT), Austria
  • Acondicionamiento Tarrasense Associacion (LEITAT), Spain,
  • Agroecology Europe (AEEU), Belgium,
  • Ellinikos Georgikos Organismos - Dimitra (ELGO), Greece,
  • Research Institute of Organic Agriculture Europe (FIBL EUROPE), Belgium,
  • Provinciaal Extern Verzelfstandigd Agentschap In Privaatrechtelijke Vorm Vzw (INAGRO), Belgium,
  • ISARA, France,
  • E-Science European Infrastructure For Biodiversity And Ecosystem Research (Lifewatch ERIC), Spain
  • Scuola Superiore Di Studi Universitari E Di Perfezionamento S Anna (SSSA), Italy,
  • South Pole Netherlands Bv (SP), Netherlands,
  • Universitaet Hohenheim (UHOH), Germany,
  • Vegepolys Valley (VGV), France,
  • Vlaamse Instelling Voor Technologisch Onderzoek N.V. (VITO), Belgium,
  • Ökologiai Mezogazdasagi Kutatointezet Kozhasznu Nonprofitkft (ÖMKi), Hungary,
  • Wageningen University (WU), Netherlands,
  • AEDIT SRL (AEDIT), Italy,
  • Universidad De Almeria (UAL), Spain,
  • Asociacion de Organizaciones de Productores de Frutas y Hortalizas de Almeria (COEXPHAL), Spain,
  • Federacio De Cooperatives Agraries De Catalunya (FCAC), Spain,
  • Research Institute of Organic Agriculture Switzerland (FIBL Switzerland), Switzerland (associ

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