Maastricht University supports agriculture through software

Two recently announced European projects seek to empower farmers with innovative software components and easy access to practical knowledge. The University of Maastricht manages OpenAgri, which develops software, and is extensively involved in EU Farmbook, an online database of relevant agricultural information.


OpenAgri logo

Christopher Brewster, endowed professor 'Application of Emerging Technologies' at the Faculty of Science and Engineering, is involved in both initiatives. He discusses OpenAgri, the initiative that he leads. "We provide software components and services for agricultural companies and cooperatives. These free, open-source software projects can aid with local weather forecasting or pest predictions. In doing so, we study where the software may be deployed most effectively, whether centrally in the cloud or at the end of the Internet, in farm computers or in tractors."

OpenAgri starts with five pilot projects aimed at cultivating sugar beets, grapes, salad, cucumbers, and tomatoes. Nine further pilots will follow. In addition to Brewster, Harro van Lente at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences participates in the project. “We investigate how OpenAgri's data solutions connect with the perspectives of farmers and other stakeholders, and conversely, what these perspectives and interests mean for the further design of the solutions,” says van Lente.

EU Farmbook

EU-FarmBook logo

The second initiative, EU Farmbook, arises from the European Commission's concern that knowledge accumulated in Europe in the fields of agriculture and forestry will be lost or unavailable to the target group, farmers and their advisers. "We are creating a database to collect information from research programmes. This features practical information like reports, presentations, and videos. The software for this database is being developed in Maastricht in collaboration with the University of Agriculture in Athens.”

OpenAgri was launched in January, and EU Farmbook followed in February with the launch of the first section of the database, which allows European researchers to submit their practical data.