Olive grove in Escañuela, Jaén. / EFE

Junta to launch nanosatellite into space this year

The project, which is being funded with European money, will enable the digitalisation of the Andalusian countryside

Héctor Barbotta
HÉCTOR BARBOTTA SEVILLE.

In 2023, Andalusia will have an innovative tool that will allow it to optimise its agricultural production and provide detailed information on its sustainability. Later in the year, a nanosatellite (usually defined as satellite weighing less than 10 kilogrammes) will be launched into space with which the Junta aspires to make the region a leader in the digitalisation of the Andalusian countryside.

This is a European project called Smartfood, whose implementation, according to the regional Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development, Carmen Crespo, will provide useful information for "making the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) more feasible and influencing the digitisation of the Andalusian countryside".

The initiative is driven by LifeWatch Eric, a research infrastructure consortium established in 2017 by the European Commission that provides research facilities for scientists investigating biodiversity and ecosystem functions and services.

SmartFood project

The SmartFood project, which includes the launch of the nanosatellite, is financed by ERDF funds allocated to Andalucía and focuses on monitoring the impact of agricultural and fisheries systems on biodiversity and ecosystems. Its objectives are threefold. Firstly, to achieve greater food security and quality through sustainable agricultural production and maritime research. Secondly, to analyse the impact of climate change and thirdly, to provide tools for the digitalisation of the economy.

The nanosatellite will focus on monitoring data of interest for this international project relating to environmental quality, temperature, flows and soil types. Crespo said that the initiative will allow progress to be made towards what she defined as Agriculture 5.0, "which will allow us to be increasingly more technologically driven and increase the sustainability of the countryside and the sea".

Crespo added that more than 29 per cent of the useful agricultural area of Andalucía is under organic production, so that the community "contributes greatly to raising the Spanish average to reach the 25 per cent set by the European Union for 2030 in the Strategy From Farm to Fork".

The regional Minister visited the headquarters of the LifeWatch ERIC consortium in Seville on Wednesday 18 January, which is part of the Smart Food initiative led by the Agricultural and Fisheries Management Agency of Andalucía (Agapa).

The regional government is earmarking nearly five million euros for this project. To collect the necessary data, the project uses cutting-edge technology such as sensors, balloon probes and nanosatellites.