Phytosanitary treatments, the INNOSETA review
In October, the three-year European project INNOSETA, which began in May 2018, will come to an end. With the participation of fifteen international partners from eight European countries, the initiative has enabled the implementation of a dedicated platform for technological innovation in the field of phytosanitary treatments
There are more than 196 scientific and dissemination articles, 77 research projects, 334 industrial solutions, and 405 training and dissemination materials, forming the so-called SETAs (Innovative Spraying Equipment Training and Advising). This is the first partial balance of the three-year Project INNOSETA (INNOvative Spraying Equipment Training and Advising) that started in May 2018 and that, in a few months, will now come to an end. However, the inclusion of new SETAs within the platform will continue even after the expiration of the project INNOSETA is a research initiative promoted by the European Union and financed within the framework of the Horizon 2020 program for research and innovation, which involves 15 international partners from research centers, universities including the Crop Protection Technology group of DiSAFA of the University of Turin, private companies and trade associations (including CEMA - European Association of Agricultural Machinery Manufacturers to which Federunacoma is affiliated) from 8 European countries (Belgium, France, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Spain, and Sweden).
The goal of this network, which covers the most widespread crops in Europe (cereal, fruit and vegetable, viticulture, and protected), is to establish a thematic group that, focusing on the field of application of plant protection products, can promote the exchange of ideas and information between the various actors involved: researchers, machinery manufacturers, and dealers, promoters, contractors, farmers, etc. Specifically, the network aims at disseminating and raising awareness of new technologies for the application of plant protection products “SETA” (acronym for Spraying Equipment, Traning and Advising), informing users about the availability of innovations to increase the quality and effectiveness of treatments and their environmental and economic sustainability.
The project has included the implementation of a free digital platform in eight languages (Dutch, French, Greek, English, Italian, Polish, Spanish, and Swedish) and the organization of thematic meetings (at national and international level) aimed at showcasing the functioning of some innovative technical solutions for the application of phytosanitary treatments, and promoting the exchange of ideas and information on the limitations and possible opportunities of their widespread deployment. The platform has been on the web since May 2019 and provides the possibility to consult different types of material. In particular, users can access research projects of the last ten years on issues related to the technological advancement of crop protection machinery; scientific and informative articles that have also dealt with these issues and that have been published from 2010 to date; innovative technical solutions offered by the industry to improve the application of crop protection products and ensure the safety of the operator and the protection of the environment during treatments; training and information material of various kinds (brochures, videos, digital content) on the proper use and adjustment of both sprayers and devices attached to them.
The implementation of the platform has involved several stages of development, starting with the collection of "SETA" candidates to be included in the platform itself and then continued with the selection of those that meet the acceptance criteria shared between the partners and the subsequent publication. The primary criteria for selecting and approving proposed records included identifying those SETAs that would allow farmers to optimize the coverage of the "target", avoid or significantly reduce environmental pollution, and minimize pesticide residues on the final product allow significant savings of phytoiatric mixture. To enrich the platform's database, industrial solutions that are still at the prototype level have recently been included.
Each SETA is classified according to its Technology Readiness Level with values ranging from 1 (minimum) to a maximum of 9 (ready for commercialization). Industrial solutions have been identified by consulting manufacturers' websites, through direct contacts with manufacturers, examining specialized magazines and websites of national and international agricultural mechanics fairs (EIMA and Agritechnica, for example) but also following indications from some end users. As for research projects, data collection was carried out by drawing on European databases (Cordis, EIP-Agri, etc.) and national databases, highlighting the aims and purposes of projects still underway and the results obtained by initiatives that have now been completed. For the sections related to scientific and informative articles and training materials, those resulting from the research of universities and public and private institutions already available on other platforms have been mainly considered (e.g., Scopus, Web of Science, etc.).
All the information on the INNOSETA platform can be easily consulted through the search engine on the homepage, which allows finding the information required. The search engine allows to narrow down the results through a series of filters that enable to organize the SETAs according to the type of crop on which they can be applied, to the type of sprayer (booms, sprayers), to the result that the use of that SETA can bring (for example, drift reduction).
Once the SETA of interest has been identified, the user can consult the descriptive in-depth information sheet, which includes the title (name of the producer, commercial name of the innovation, and a very brief description of the intended use), the keywords linked to the SETA (the words, interactive and selectable, give the possibility to consult other related SETA), the description (illustrates characteristics and innovative elements of the product), the details (information on the producer or the retailer of the SETA), the details on the specific SETA (interactive and selectable filters to identify other SETA related to the same theme). The item "learn more" shows the direct link to the innovation on the manufacturer's website and, if available online, informative or in-depth material (brochures, manuals, videos).
One of INNOSETA's innovative aspects is to allow users of the platform to contribute to its implementation. The procedure for the insertion of new SETAs is straightforward but requires registering with the platform itself and creating a personal account. The proposed new records are submitted to the scrutiny of the project partners who will accept or reject the inclusion based on a set of criteria defined in the project's initial phase.
To guide users through the process of inserting SETAs, a video tutorial has been created. It is available on the platform's homepage, which illustrates all the steps necessary to complete the required fields during the insertion of proposals for new records. The insertion of new SETAs will continue even after the expiration of the European project and presumably until 2024.