What to expect from APOLLO in 2017?

2017 will be a milestone year for the APOLLO project, since it will be the first time that APOLLO services are tested and validated on operational farms and fields. The APOLLO project has covered a lot of ground in the short nine months since it began, and as the new year dawns, we thought it would be a good moment to reflect on what has been achieved so far, and look ahead to what you can expect for 2017.

What APOLLO achieved during 2016
2016 was the inaugural year of the APOLLO project. During its first ten months, APOLLO achieve all of its major goals. Thanks to the participation of some 180 farmers and agricultural consultants in APOLLO’s user requirements survey – including through face-to-face meetings – the APOLLO technical team was able to quickly get a handle on the main issues and challenges, translating these requirements into technical specifications. This was the first step towards realising APOLLO’s main objective; the development of a suite of agricultural advisory services, specifically developed to address the needs of small farmers. Furthermore, during these first 9 months, APOLLO developed its visual identity, established a social media presence (Twitter, Facebook), released its first newsletter, and communicated its scope and vision to the agricultural and smart farming community by participating in various events and conferences across Europe.

What do we expect from APOLLO in 2017
Having successfully attained its goals in 2016, the APOLLO project is now gearing up to release the first version of the operational services. 2017 will be the year in which the APOLLO services will be tested by real farmers on a variety of crops, over a total area of over 100.000 hectares across Greece, Serbia and Spain.

1. The APOLLO platform goes live to trial users
An important milestone in the first months of the new year will be the launch of the first version of the APOLLO platform, marking the beginning of the first agricultural season, starting in May and ending in September 2017. The Tillage Scheduling service is expected to be the first service to become available on the platform, with the other services following by the end of April.

2. Release of the APOLLO data products
In parallel, the development of the majority of the data products on agricultural parameters is expected to be completed. These data products are the backbone of the various APOLLO services, and include variables such as soil moisture, meteorological conditions, biomass and the various vegetation indices (such as Normalised Difference Vegetation Index, NDVI). APOLLO takes advantage of the free and open satellite data from Europe’s Copernicus Sentinel satellites, combining it with seasonal climate forecasts and other auxiliary data. State-of-the art machine learning methods are used to produce daily updates and forecasts of agricultural parameters. Based on these, farmers will be able to get timely and accurate precision farming advice information for tillage, irrigation, crop growth monitoring and crop yield estimation, at daily basis, regardless of the environmental conditions (i.e. clouds, fog, etc.), in a variety of crops.

3. Launch of the APOLLO co-creation process
Early in 2017 the co-creation phase of the APOLLO services will begin, bringing together the APOLLO technical team and the pilot farmers who will become the project’s trial users.

4. In the field: APOLLO’s first agricultural season (May to September 2017)
During the first agricultural season, pilot farmers and registered farmers will have the opportunity to try the initial APOLLO services free of charge. Interested in becoming a trial user? You can register here.
The table below summarises the APOLLO pilot activities during the first agricultural season.

May-September 2017
Pilot Country Crop
Agricultural Association of Pella Greece
  • Cotton
  • Durum wheat
Municipality of Ruma Serbia
  • Barley
  • Maize
  • Sunflower
  • Sugarbeet
  • Winter wheat
  • Soybean
La Mancha Oriental Spain
  • Maize
  • Winter wheat
  • Chinese garlic
  • Purple garlic
  • Wine grapes
  • Almond trees
  • Olive trees

This will pave the way towards the 2nd agricultural season later in 2018 and the finalisation of services which is scheduled for early 2019.

The APOLLO team is looking forward to a very productive year in 2017. We invite you to get involved with the project and join us on this exciting journey!

Image credits: APOLLO