Acta continues its involvement in the study of the potential of digital technology for the agricultural sector. This year marks the launch of two new projects, DIGITAF and CODE(CS), both funded by the European Union’s research and innovation program Horizon Europe. From 2022 to 2026, these two projects will seek to demonstrate the potential of digital technology as a lever for the implementation of agroecological practices.

DigitAF: Digital tools to help agroforestry meet climate, biodiversity and agricultural sustainability goals

Agroforestry (AF) has already proven to have a positive impact on farm sustainability, climate change mitigation and adaptation, biodiversity preservation, and soil conservation. However, many obstacles, such as the lack of tools for decision making and evaluation of economic, environmental and social benefits, hinder the implementation of such systems. In this context, the European project DigitAF (DIGItal Tools to help AgroForestry meet climate, biodiversity and farming sustainability goals: linking field and cloud) aims at stimulating the implementation of agroforestry on a European scale through the co-development of digital tools for comparison, impact assessment, decision making and management of agroforestry systems.

To achieve this objective, DigitAF will implement a multi-stakeholder approach tailored to three target groups: policy actors, practitioners and beneficiaries of agroforestry products and services, through the following actions:

  1. Support policy actors at different scales to design more effective policies supporting the adoption of AF and carbon agriculture.
  2. Provision of tools to help practitioners (farmers…) deal with the complexity of agroforestry systems. DigitAF will enable them to optimize the design and management of these systems at the field and farm level.
  3. Strengthening the capacity of stakeholders to evaluate, quantify and market the economic, environmental and social performance and benefits of AF.

With a budget of over 3.6 million euros, the project is coordinated by INRAE. The DigitAF consortium brings together 25 partners, including Acta – the agricultural technical institutes. The diversity of the consortium, consisting of research and technology organizations, universities, SMEs, NGOs, etc., extends the scope and impact of the project.

CODE(CS): Definition of criteria for a “sustainable digitisation” of European agriculture via a multi-criteria evaluation of digital solutions

Although the digitisation of the agricultural sector can generate multiple benefits, there are still several grey areas regarding the adoption of digital solutions for agriculture. Indeed, it remains difficult to assess the social and environmental impacts of the deployment of digital tools in the agricultural sector. In this context, the CODE(CS) project (Maximising the CO-benefits of agricultural Digitalisation through conducive digital ECoSystems) will develop, together with farmers and AKIS (Agricultural Knowledge and Innovation System) actors, collaborative methods and tools capable of documenting and evaluating the benefits and costs of digitizing farms.

To achieve this objective, a research-action methodology based on the study of concrete use cases carried out by 21 different Living Labs across Europe will be implemented. A Living Lab is a space for experimentation that brings together farmers, research actors, policy makers, and developers of innovative solutions, and allows to place users at the center in order to innovate for and with them by responding to issues arising from the field. In France, CODE(CS) foresees several different use cases dealing with, for example, the use of digital technologies in animal husbandry, water management, solar radiation valorization, etc. Finally, a knowledge platform will be developed to raise awareness and facilitate the adoption of digital technologies in a sustainable way.

With a budget of over 7.4 million euros, the project involves Acta – the agricultural technical institutes, as well as IFV – the French Institute of Vine and Wine, ldele – the Livestock Institute and IFIP – the Pig Institute.