Agriculture and food production are promising industries for experimenting with data sharing and data space. Food, its origin and the sustainability, cleanliness and quality of its production are matters of great interest to consumers. And what interests the consumer also interests the production chain. On the other hand, the quality of the products and the provability of the quality affects the price that can be obtained from it, and thus it has a direct impact on the primary producers as well. Thirdly, the price of food is kept lower with the help of public subsidies, which in turn requires the transparency of the entire production towards the subsidy process. Producing information from farms to consumers is not a simple task. The entire chain is sensitive to costs, and on the other hand, the data itself is a competitive factor and therefore confidential.
The EU-funded FlexiGroBots project develops the digitization of agriculture through robotics, artificial intelligence, and the data economy. In the Finnish pilot of the project we have developed a prototype of a data space based on the IDSA architecture and components of VTT’s Data Spaces Innovation Lab, which allows pilot participants and their systems to exchange data without jeopardizing the ownership or confidentiality of the data.
Since the project is a research project and the technologies to be developed are at the experimental stage, the data space and its participants have taken a leap towards the future. A virtual operating model and suitable virtual participants have been developed. The model is indeed such that it could be true even today, if technologies and legislation were at a sufficient level in all respects. There are four different participants in the Finnish pilot.
- A farmer who grows silage and canola. The farmer controls his farm using farm management software.
- A robot service company that offers silage harvesting using autonomous ISOBUS-controlled tractors and weeding with an autonomous robot.
- A drone company that performs imaging and precision spraying flights as a service.
- AI service company that offers image analyses and artificial intelligence services via the Internet.
With the help of data space, companies can exchange robots’ task and result files, transfer captured images or multispectral images, map data, etc. with each other and freely form cooperation networks of their choice. With the help of IDSA, the network can be expanded, and in the project, this will be expanded to also cover other pilots in Lithuania, Serbia, and Spain. In the future, usability will be developed, especially to support the data economy better.