Precision Irrigation with Cost-effective and Autonomic IoT Devices using Artificial Intelligence at the Edge
With reference to the effects of the current climate change, the Tunisian government has declared the effective management of natural resources, especially increasing the efficiency of the agricultural use of water, as a strategic priority for the agricultural sector. As part of 12 strategic measures to promote the application of artificial intelligence (AI), the German government plans to increase international cooperation on AI. Within this framework, the envisioned project will see German participants contribute their expertise in IoT and AI cutting-edge technologies and work with Tunisian partners to develop an autonomous precision irrigation system for mutual benefit.
The project aims to create, based on IoT and AI edge control architecture, an affordable, easy-to-implement and robust irrigation system. To reduce dependencies on a cloud platform, the AI irrigation models and rule application will be run locally on edge platforms. The goal here is to be able to operate the irrigation system autonomously without the need for a constant internet connection or mains power supply.
First, the leanest possible AI model for predicting soil moisture and irrigation requirements is developed for this purpose. Then, the AI model is integrated into the local control application, which is executed in a distributed manner both on the edge platform and at the device level. Through a temporarily available internet connection, both the irrigation model and the control system can be updated according to, at the cloud level, new training results.
The project will leverage existing know-how of the partners regarding cost-efficient sensor technology and decentralised radio technology based on open hardware concepts. Thus, an edge-capable gateway developed by Waziup e.V. will form a central element of the new control system.
Rapid deployable Food Production Systems for Emergency Scenarios and arid Regions
The consortium's goal is to develop a mobile, deployable crop production system for use in crisis regions to support food production. The system is intended to produce fresh food for the population in a medium-term time horizon to supplement the food supply.
The system consists of three parts that will be implemented as part of the project:
One part is the development of the Seed Cultivation Mats (SCM). These form the core system of the system and consist of special carrier foils preloaded with seeds. These films provide plant roots with optimal growth conditions and give the plant stability.
The CEA Support Unit represents the second part of the system. The core principle is the use of CEA technologies that control, among other things, environmental parameters. Regulation of these parameters is vital for plant growth, and the Support Unit also provides the plants with water and nutrient solution.
To make the system as widely applicable as possible, the third part of the system consists of a deployable primary structure. This structure creates a closed cultivation volume with environmental conditions that are independent of external climatic conditions. Thus, the primary structure enables the cultivation of plants even in areas where agriculture is not possible due to external conditions.
In order to realise a commercial application of the system at the end of the project, the consortium will perform a detailed cost-benefit analysis.
In addition to pursuing the technical goals, the consortium will also investigate scientific aspects, such as the microbiological conditions in the system or the relationship between nutrient solution composition and the quality of the harvested biomass.
Cooperation and networking between Germany and potential international partners will be intensified through three workshops.
Funding code: 01DH20016
Development of spiral wound modules for cost-efficient, long-term Desalination by anti-fouling Coatings of Membranes
Water resources run short especially in arid areas like North Africa and especially countries as Egypt with a high growing population over 100 million. The future strategies of water usage should be based on demand management, water savings, and conservation projects, where many regions of the world will likely face dramatic changes in the availability, the quality, the regulation of the water use and disposal of water.
The scientific novelty of the project is focused on low cost and robust technology for production of sweet water through preparation of polymeric nanostructure blend as a base substrate for RO membranes with different coating technologies with and without thin film composite technique. The continuous membrane production of corresponding polymeric blend as a new membrane with high throughput will be reached.
Production of spiral wound modules by different types of feed spacers through irradiation surface treatment technologies together with RO membrane sheets will be developed. The Egyptian and German teams will investigate engineering implementation for a pilot continuous unit of membrane chemical coating and suggest any prior modifications over vacuum UV irradiation techniques respectively. These investigations will in turn facilitate the preliminary techno-economic study for both innovative RO membranes production line and long term industrial water desalination unit using modified RO membranes, and developed feed spacer through project.
The achievements of this joint project should provide sorts of key membranes products and application technologies for low-cost and large-scale water desalination systems, which are urgently needed in Egypt.
Funding code: 01DH21002
Co-fermentation of agricultural residues and selected organic waste materials for biogas production
The potential and realization of novel biogas technology is investigated in this project specific to the local conditions and environment in Egypt.
The co-fermentation technology in anaerobic digesting biogas reactors is studied with input substrates from primary and secondary agricultural waste, in addition to tertiary organic waste from the food processing and consumption industry further downstream in the provision chain. Substrates will be studied experimentally both on lab and pilot scale levels. This will identify the optimum chemistry and biological processing required for a more economic and scalable production of an efficient waste-to-energy conversion (power, heating and cooling) solution; in addition to a beneficial utilization of waste water and use of digestate as fertilizer/compost achieving a circular economy.
The design, optimisation and economic operation of co-fermenting anaerobic biogas plants will be augmented using a computational approach in order to achieve adequate input and output design parameters sensitive to the urban and suburban locations across Egyptian governorates.
Funding code: 01DH21004
Detection of Brucella in milk tanks using wireless sensor technology
Zoonotic diseases such as brucellosis caused by Brucella spp. have increased concern about food safety & health status of both animals & humans. Globalisation of trade in food products of animal origin, together with international travelling, is allowing easy spread of such diseases worldwide.
The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) & its World Animal Health Information System adopt the concept that all countries should give a firm commitment to making their animal health situation transparent & setting up mechanisms for the early detection of disease outbreaks. One of the top-priority objectives of the OIE’s Sixth Strategic Plan 2016-2020 is disease transmission reduction by managing risks at the human-animal-environment interface. Brucellosis in humans causes a severe febrile debilitating illness. While, in animals, abortion, fetal death & different breeding disorders are main symptoms. Livestock Brucella species detected in raw milk in Egypt were B. melitensis, B. abortus and B. suis which happen to be the most virulent to humans.
The project aims to develop & characterise Brucella specific novel molecularly imprinted polymers (plastic antibodies) to develop a Brucella electrochemical sensor in milk tanks, as commercially available farm control systems do not have integrated health monitoring sensors. Plastic antibodies mimic the molecular recognition ability of natural antibodies with three benefits:
- limitless customization by molecular tailoring to achieve maximum specific binding affinity,
- potential molecular recognition of the whole bacterial surface by molecular imprinted hydrogels not just restricted point (epitope) detection as natural antibodies do, and
- long shelf life at harsh environmental conditions.
For brucellosis outbreak prevention, Brucella detection is to be 24/7 wirelessly monitored with internet of things “IoT” technology. Developing smart solutions based on IoT will make it easier for integration with current/future platforms, e.g. the existing EU funded project “Internet of Food and Farm 2020”.