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Research and Development

Smart Agriculture technologies were tested on the Saarijärvi Bioeconomy Campus

Traktori pellolla kesäpäivänä hiukan kauempana. Kuvan etualalla lentää drone.
The demonstration utilized remote control of the tractor, as well as drone technology. Photo: Marjut Koskela / Centria. 

Centria coordinates a total of three trials during the PRIORITY project. Complementary telecommunication network solutions and smart agriculture technologies aimed at rural areas were tested on the Bioeconomy Campus in Saarijärvi Tarvaala last week in cooperation with the companies participating in the project, as well as VTT, the University of Oulu, Jyväskylä University of Applied Sciences, Turku University of Applied Sciences and POKE Vocational College. 

For the duration of the trial, a local 5G network was built in the area to emulate efficient data transfer and problem situations. In the field, smart agriculture technologies were tested, such as data transmission in the local base station network, remote control of the tractor, sensors inside the robotic tractor, utilization of drone technology for data collection and detection of foreign objects and fertilizer application by artificial intelligence. Emerging ICT technologies such as artificial intelligence, IoT, 5G communications and satellite analytics create new opportunities for businesses and ecosystems.   

Marjo Heikkilä, RDI Manager at Centria University of Applied Sciences and an expert in wireless telecommunications, commented on the trial event held at the Saarijärvi Bioeconomy Campus as follows: “Farming technology is one of the important focus areas in Centria’s research activities. At the Tarvaala Bioeconomy Campus, we were able to take the results of the research to the actual farming environments and for end users to try out. We study the usability of private network solutions for data transmission in agricultural applications. Drone technology, field sensors and barn air quality sensors produced data for the needs of smart agriculture.” 

The partners in the PRIORITY project are Airbus, Agco, Bittium, Digita, Exfo, Goodmill, Keysight, Finnish Transport and Communications Agency Traficom, the Finnish Defense Forces, Rescue, Elisa, Separate Networks, Fairspectrum, Verkotan and The Central Union of Agricultural Producers and Forest Owners. The research organizations of the project are the University of Oulu, VTT, Centria University of Applied Sciences, Jyväskylä University of Applied Sciences and Turku University of Applied Sciences. Researchers from each were present at the Bioeconomy Campus to collect research material and test solutions together with companies.

We are incredibly pleased and taken to take the opportunity to serve as a test platform for the PRIORITY project. This was a great first bite of our vision for the future to serve as an environment for the development, testing and training of recent technology solutions for the bioeconomy. We are happy to cooperate with research institutes and companies at the interfaces of different areas of expertise, “says the director of the JAMK Institute for Bioeconomy Minna Lappalainen. 

Harri Posti, Research Manager at the University of Oulu’s Centre for Wireless Communications (CWC), was satisfied with the Tarvaala framework with its fields and barns. “The week was an intense and technically diverse workout. Getting things technically working required adjustment and experimentation. Although there was something left to study, the essentials worked: the tractor was running and the drones were flying, sensor data could be collected and displayed. New uses for 5G were demonstrated, and solutions from different players were tested, using a number of different radio technologies.” 

The PRIORITY project explores novel solutions for critical communication, security and remote access between security authorities and rural businesses in significant national and international cooperation. International co-operation makes it possible to build communication between authorities in different countries to work better together in large-scale cross-border emergencies. The effectiveness of critical communication between different countries is emphasized, for example, in terrorist situations.  

One of the research topics of the PRIORITY project is also Smart Rural Business, which aims to increase the vitality and attractiveness of sparsely populated areas. Important enablers of smart rural business include digitalization, advanced telecommunications, and artificial intelligence. There is a lot of telecommunications in smart agriculture, which is challenging to ensure, especially in sparsely populated areas. Especially in remote rural areas, for example, the large amount of data processed, integrated information systems and real-time video transmission need proper communication connections for immediate data transmission.  

The second trial of the PRIORITY project aimed at better coverage of mobile networks, which will bring more data transmission capacity to agriculture and forestry. It also strongly emphasizes the importance of the functionality of telecommunications in farm operations and the needs of the farmer in different cases of farm use. In agriculture and forestry, complementary telecommunication network solutions may be needed to ensure that the opportunities offered by smart agriculture are exploited.  

PRIORITY enables versatile cooperation with several different actors in the field of critical communication. International cooperation also opens opportunities for Finnish industrial players to enter new markets. PRIORITY also cooperates with the Finnish-wide 5G test network ecosystem, where 5G technology can be verified in the development of new features and vertical applications. Field research is carried out using, among other things, the local 5G network and new communication and drone technology. The nationally and internationally significant PRIORITY is part of Business Finland’s Digital Trust program.