The UOC ADO project is funded by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund
Project promotes technological solutions to digitize the aquaculture sector
Wednesday, September 11, 2019, 22:00 (GMT + 9)
An EU-funded project will implement low-cost electronic sensors to control the pH, temperature, turbidity and oxygen of water in aquaculture facilities. The new system will reduce the number of occupational accidents and the cost of digitizing facilities by more than 90%.
The culture of fish, crustaceans, molluscs and aquatic plants is a powerful sector in Spain. The Spanish State is one of the EU countries with highest aquaculture harvests, with more than 300,000 tonnes and with a production value of EUR 470 million, and employs more than 40,000 people. The UOC will develop a technology to facilitate the precise and continuous monitoring of the basic parameters in the water to improve animal welfare, reduce energy expenditure and optimize the use of food and the planning of the growth of fish and seaweed.
Catalonia consists of four provinces: Barcelona, Girona, Lleida, and Tarragona.
The Open Digital Aquaculture (ADO) project will implement low-cost electronic sensors to control pH, temperature, turbidity or oxygen in several facilities in Catalonia (Baix Montseny, Pla de Lleida and Tierras del Ebro). In Catalonia, there are about 150 aquaculure companies, which generate more than 2,000 jobs.
The ADO project will promote technological solutions that allow the digitalization of the sector with basic elements. The project will facilitate data acquisition systems, as well as open source platforms for storing and displaying them. One of the objectives is to define data formats and standards that allow small and medium producers to obtain success stories with much smaller investments compared to other technologies.
“A system of digitalization of data to which a turbidity sensor can be connected can cost about EUR 4,500, while a solution with open source tools, more basic but functional, less than 400, which means a saving of 90%,” highlights project coordinator Xavier Vilajosana.
"We do not intend to make competition to the sector, but to energize it, motivating digitalization, developing demand and, therefore, competition," adds Vilajosana, a UOC professor.
The initiative will create solutions that do not require human intervention to obtain and process data or experience to manage the installation and deployment.
“We will complete the technological chain by providing the design of the hardware elements and schemes for their integration, the communication technology that will allow extracting the generated data and the software to store, visualize and process them,” explains the leader of the Wireless Networks Research Lab group ( WiNE) of the Internet Interdisciplinary Institute (IN3), which carries out this research together with the researcher Pere Tuset.
Energy saving, animal welfare and reduction of occupational hazards
The ADO project will facilitate the validation of the expectations generated by digitalization, quantifying the growth of production, quality and its benefits.
“It means an unprecedented technological improvement in aquaculture, a sector of primary production in which the adoption of technology must be motivated by success stories and limited investments, especially in territories where producers are small or medium-sized,” states Xavier Vilajosana.
In addition, according to the research team, digitalization allows us to have a more precise knowledge of the operation and evolution of production systems, which improves infrastructure management and, as a result, seeks energy savings resulting from optimal planning of processes
Digital sensors to measure pH and dissolved oxygen. (Photo: Hanna Instruments) ►
Furthermore, technology allows improving health management and animal welfare, because it controls more carefully the quality of life of living beings. Another of its benefits is the reduction of the number of injuries and accidents associated with control tasks, since they do not have to be done manually.
The sensors will be designed to be powered by batteries that can use energy collection sources such as solar or wind, which will contribute to the sustainability of the system. The data obtained by each node will be sent securely to a cloud platform, where it will be stored and processed. Users can access their data privately and create visualization tables, searchable from a computer or mobile device. In addition, an application programming interface will be defined that will allow third-party applications to integrate the data.
Participants in this UOC investigation include a company dedicated to the cultivation of seaweed, Explotacions 4200 SL, located in the Pla de Lleida (Almacelles); Spirulina Natural, from the agricultural park of Baix Montseny de Cànoves, specialized in microalgae; the Espirulina Network, an educational and research entity that makes plant aquaculture known, and the School of Aquaculture of the IES Alfacs of Sant Carles de la Ràpita, in the Tierras del Ebro.
► Spirulina or spirulina, whose scientific name is Spirulina maxima, is a cyanobacterium that has a spiral shape and is greenish blue, its high chlorophyll content gives it the green hue, while its phycocyanin content gives it the bluish pigment.
The UOC ADO project is funded by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund for the transfer of knowledge between researchers and fishers and for innovation in the aquaculture sector for the years 2019, 2020 and 2021, managed by the Department of Agriculture, Livestock, Fishing and Food of the Generalitat of Catalonia.