The APOLLO project is coordinated by DRAXIS Environmental Technologies, an SME based in Thessaloniki, Greece. Machi Simeonidou is APOLLO project manager at DRAXIS Environmental Technologies and experienced agroeconomist. In this interview she gives us her perspective on the implementation of the APOLLO project and its vision for the future.
1. What is the APOLLO project and who can benefit from it?
APOLLO is an EU co-funded innovative R&D project that brings together partners from five European countries. The projects’ objective is to bring the advantages of precision agriculture to farmers through affordable information services. More specifically, APOLLO will exploit the various benefits of agricultural information services based on Earth Observation data, such as those provided by the European Union’s Copernicus programme. The resulting APOLLO services mainly target small farmers, farmers’ associations and agricultural consultants.
2. What is the vision of the project?
APOLLO’s vision is to open up the precision agriculture market by making available affordable and easy-to-use agricultural advisory services. These will enable farmers to make better decisions by monitoring the growth and health of crops, providing advice on when to irrigate and till their fields and estimating the size of their harvest. Ultimately, farmers will increase their profitability and competitiveness as their use of APOLLO will lead to higher yields and less farm or agricultural inputs.
3. How will small farmers use APOLLO in real life, to face real challenges?
Small farmers will be able to access and benefit from the APOLLO services at all stages of the growing cycle. APOLLO will enable farmers to monitor the progress of their crops’ growth and take proactive measures in order to tackle various potential threats such as soil degradation, as well as to identify the existence of possible field problems (such as pest infestations) in near real time. APOLLO services address four critical topics: tillage scheduling, irrigation scheduling, crop growth monitoring and crop yield estimation. Through the use of APOLLO services, farmers will be able to improve their farm management strategy and benefit both financially and on the field.
4. How and when can farmers access the APOLLO services?
APOLLO’s initial services will be launched in April 2017. The services will be made available on the APOLLO online platform (also downloadable as a desktop app), or/and via the mobile/tablet application. Farmers can try out the initial APOLLO services by signing up to become trial users.