Intelligent Organic Farming Testbed by the Institute for Environmental Solutions (IES) is located in Cēsis county, in the Northern part of Latvia. The testbed demonstrates a close cooperation between research and the industry for growing medicinal and aromatic plants, and production of high-value added plant-based products demanded in the largest pharmaceutical, cosmetics, and food manufacturers in Europe.
To develop Intelligent Organic Farming Testbed the following equipment and facilities are used:
- Experimental and demonstration fields of medicinal and aromatic plants
- Plant seed preparation facilities
- Chemical laboratory
- Applied entomology laboratory
- Microbiology laboratory
- Plant biorefinery prototyping laboratory
- Climatic chamber
- Internet of things sensor network
- Geospatial and remote sensing data laboratory
The testbed’s equipment and facilities help to research organic farming processes in various dimensions – from field to lab, from seed preparation to harvesting, from rubber boots to space, from local to global.
Within the plant seed preparation facilities seed gathering, treatment, germination and sprouting are tested. Further, the plantlets are grown into climatic chamber and nursery areas to prepare plants for field climate conditions. While growing within experimental and demonstration fields, plant seeding, planting, development, soil conditions, suitable weeding and harvesting technologies are tested. By using drones, field sensors, geospatial and remote sensing data regular field surveys on plant growth, productivity, vitality, soil humidity are carried out. Furthermore, chemistry laboratory helps to monitor and analyze the characteristics, structure, plant chemical composition, most suitable growing conditions, and potential economic return of the researched plants. Aiming to reduce waste in agriculture processes, the testbed also uses biorefinery prototyping laboratory. Biorefinery approach-based products are tested in applied entomology laboratory for sustainable plant-based repellent product development.
Intelligent Organic Farming Testbed by IES cooperates with actors from various sectors and countries. They include exporting organic farming company “Field and Forest”, Vidzeme Planning Region, cellular farming company “Alternative Plants”, the network of bio-economy developers of the Baltic Sea Region “Biobord”, Latvian Food Bioeconomy Cluster, European Plant Growers Association, and others.
“What works on a paper or on a screen does not always work in real life. Therefore, we have to be in constant search for new and improved tools on how to develop and test innovative ideas, products and services in close to real environments. On top of that, we also need processes on how to facilitate multidisciplinary cooperation and knowledge and technology transfer among organisations, regions and countries. The Nordic Testbed Network is such a tool, and we are looking forward to cooperating with its members to develop smart bioeconomy solutions” says Inese Suija–Markova, managing director of the Institute for Environmental Solutions.