Climate App warns farmers how to optimize water and crops

European project “Climalert”, coordinated by UMinho, presented at Greenfest

A tool that alerts the farmer about climate change is being born, helping him to optimize crop irrigation and to anticipate or postpone harvests. It is called “Climalert” and is coordinated by the Center of Molecular and Environmental Biology (CBMA) of the University of Minho. The project, which includes an app and a web platform, brings together partners from Portugal, Spain and Germany and has 845,000 euros from the EU until 2021. It was presented on the 25th at the Monastery of Tibães, in Braga, as part of Greenfest, the largest national festival of sustainability.

The cell phone application, in the testing phase, allows the farmer to record and analyze trends in the state of his crop and productivity or assess cycles of temperature, precipitation and weather. Along with this app, a web platform is being designed to support decision making in the water sector, in order to plan farming scenarios and water use in the medium and long term. Those who decide and invest see the most beneficial probabilities for the environment and for their business.

Useful for environmental managers

“We are marrying the interests of the agriculture and water resources sectors, which is difficult, because water is widely used in agriculture, but sometimes returned to ecosystems in a contaminated way,” says the coordinator of “Climalert”, Claudia Pascoal. The CBMA researcher and teacher at the Science School of UMinho hopes to reduce the risks and vulnerabilities of these two sectors: “This project is valuable because it promotes sustainability with economic benefits for farmers and environmental managers, who have to manage the river basins taking into account climate change.”

Climalert tools were created at UMinho, through the CBMA research center, Algoritmi and the Micro Electromechanical Systems Center – CMEMS (the last two from the Engineering School), and are being tested by stakeholders in the three countries of the consortium. The idea is to understand, for example, “the state of dryness of the soil, access to water indicators in the plant and in the atmosphere, or the stock of water in rivers to reservoirs”. Through these applications, the farmer can anticipate a climatic event in one or two weeks, anticipate or postpone a harvest and optimize his irrigation system.

“The user is better prepared for decisions that privilege the sustainability of the productive system and the ecosystem, with clear financial advantages”, reinforces Cláudia Pascoal. Climalert”, acronym for “Climate Alert Smart System for Sustainable Water and Agriculture”, also involves the Portuguese Sea and Atmosphere Institute (IPMA), the Catalan Water Research Institute (Spain) and the Helmholtz Environmental Research Center (Germany).

Greenfest with several EEUM projects

Greenfest takes place from October 25th to 27th, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., with dozens of in-person and online initiatives on the theme of “Sustainable Post-Pandemic Resumption”. UMinho is present mainly through Science and Engineering Schools. This Friday, besides “Climalert”, there is a debate at 7pm with professors Fernanda Cássio and Teresa Lino-Neto. On Saturday, at 10:30 a.m., the spin-off SPM Nanosolutions, which treats textile effluents, is known. There are also interventions from the professor António Vicente from the School of Engineering, the Fibrenamics platform and the young companies Bag 4 Days, BeKoffee and Cerveja Letra, the latter two born at EEUM. Until Sunday, there are also on display “The invisible world of microbes” and “Emerging contaminants and society’s challenges”. Greenfest follows after November 20 to 22 for Carcavelos.

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