#DigitAg: a new multidisciplinary scientific research centre opens its doors
#DigitAg - the Digital Agriculture Convergence Lab - was inaugurated in Montpellier on 30 June 2017. It is one of the five projects selected in the first round of calls for projects in the "Institut Convergences" scheme. The centre, which is coordinated by Irstea and supported by Inria, has set out to support and speed up the development of digital agriculture, both in France and internationally, over the next seven years.
After several years of discussion and planning, four research bodies, three higher-education establishments, two transfer structures and eight companies joined forces to bring the project to life. The aim is to set up a three-part structure, #DigitAg, to handle research, training and innovation, leveraging its interdisciplinary structure to become a global benchmark in digital agriculture in the space of seven years.
Accordingly 360 researchers and research-teachers distributed over 25 research units organised themselves to address six research focus areas:
- New information and communication technologies (NICTs) and the rural community
- NICTs and innovation
- Sensors and data acquisition and management
- Information systems
- Structuring agricultural Big Data
- Modelling and simulation
More specifically, they will address eight challenges facing society, organised into challenges and divided into two main themes:
- Optimising agricultural production to limit the environmental impacts. This will entail: supporting agro-ecology, adapting varieties to the environment and to markets, protecting crops, and sustainable animal production.
- Bringing digital agriculture into society as a whole, in order to see how ICTs will: revolutionise the guidance and services given to farmers, help agriculture become an integral part of the regional economic fabric, help agriculture to derive greater benefit from the value chain, assist agricultural development in the Southern countries.
The budget is estimated at €147 million over seven years. #DigitAg will also test innovative learning systems, including an observatory of digital agriculture practices, along with MOOCs and hackathons.