The winners of the Farming by Satellite Prize 2020 were announced at the virtual Farming by Satellite Prize 2020 Awards Ceremony on Monday 30th November. The Prize promotes the use of Galileo, the European Global Navigation Satellite Systems, the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS), and Copernicus, the European Earth observation programme in European and African agriculture. The overall winner of €5,000 was team Granite from Spain with their web application that uses European satellite technologies to help agronomists and farmers monitor their olive groves to reduce water waste and poor fertilisation practices.
Team Genuine received second prize for their web-based solution that identifies crop stress and the optimal tractor path for irrigation and fertilisation using Copernicus, EGNOS and Galileo, components of the European Space Programme. Third prize went to team AI4OceanFarming, who use satellite data to identify ocean farming threats such as harmful algal blooms (HABs), ocean acidification (OA), and invasive species. The Special Africa Prize went to GeoM&E for their solution that looks to monitor coffee diseases using European satellite technologies. The winners beat stiff competition from 40 other young people. Judges selected the best teams to take their ideas forward to the ‘Deep Dive’ phase, and then selected eight grand finalists to pitch their solutions during the final ‘live’ judging round.
The Farming by Satellite Prize is an initiative of the European GNSS Agency (GSA) and the European Environment Agency (EEA). It is supported by CLAAS, a leading manufacturer of agricultural engineering equipment. It aims to increase the usage of Galileo, EGNOS and Copernicus for European agriculture. The Prize also aims to grow awareness on the benefits the EU Space Programme provides toward fostering innovative and sustainable farming solutions. The objective of the Special Africa Prize is to encourage young Africans to develop satellite-based solutions that cater to the specific needs and resources of communities and lands in Africa.
Reviewing the winning entries this year, GSA judge Joaquín Reyes González said: “The innovation and wide variety of agriculture applications submitted by young innovators this year has been wonderful to see. It confirms the value of encouraging the next generation of farmers to explore the use of satellite technologies in agriculture to enable sustainable farming practices.”
Commenting on the environmental aspect of entries, Hans Dufourmont, judge for the European Environment Agency added: “The agricultural sector needs to continue developing sustainable food production activities and lessen their impact on the environment and climate. It’s great to see Galileo and Copernicus convincing young farmers to become tech savvy entrepreneurs and develop competitive yet sustainable agriculture.”
The last words go to the winners Pablo Romero Díaz and Manuel Castro Ruiz of Graniot, who stated: “We’re honoured to be chosen as winners for the Farming by Satellite Prize 2020. We will be putting the EUR 5,000 cash prize to good use developing our satellite crop monitoring web application further. The whole journey has been a great experience that would not have been possible without the support of UGREmprendedora and the Andalucia Agrotech DIH. We’ve learnt so much. We have been inspired by the feedback from the judges and have enjoyed seeing the entries from all the grand finalists during the awards ceremony.”
Contestants were tasked with creating a new sustainable and environmentally friendly agriculture solution using Galileo, EGNOS and/or Copernicus. Solutions had to demonstrate their novel approach to the use of satellite services for farming, while ensuring accurate technical feasibility and a maximal impact on the farming industry.
On behalf of the judging panel, Marcel Fölsch from CLAAS said about the winning idea: “Graniot have consistently presented a high-quality solution throughout all stages of this year’s competition. It is great to see their focus on olive farming in southern Europe, allowing them to narrow in on specific customer needs and present a compelling remote sensing solution to their users. We’re pleased to award the top prize to a team clearly driving the adoption of sustainable agriculture practises in Europe.”
Participation was open to young farmers, academics, and professionals between the ages of 18 and 32. They could take part as individuals or as a team of up to four. For the Special Africa Prize, at least one applicant was required to be a citizen of or resident in an African country.