As hedgerows cover 6pc of Ireland, Farmeye proposed using space technology to monitor their biodiversity and carbon sequestration value.
Roscommon-based agtech start-up Farmeye has secured a contract with the European Space Agency (ESA) to measure hedgerow carbon and habitat value using space technology.
Farmeye currently provides a digital soil management system for farmers across Ireland. It has developed a geotagging app for soil sampling and also provides map-based soil management systems for a laptop or smartphone. This app can then be used to record soil management and fertility profiles of the fields on a farm.
Its new deal is with the ESA’s Space Solutions branch, which focuses on working with companies to create commercially sustainable services by using space data and technology. It also works on transferring space technology into non-space markets or bringing potentially useful innovations from other sectors into orbit.
The ESA has been busy working with Irish companies in the past few years, with 28 Irish businesses securing €11.5m in ESA contracts in 2020. Projects have ranged from space tech for marine energy to acoustic technology for space transportation.
Space Solutions announced the Responsible AgriTech Kick-start Initiative towards the end of 2020, inviting proposals specifically for innovations in agriculture. This is when Farmeye applied.
“Farmeye are always looking to stay at the frontier of agritech innovations and so when this opportunity from ESA arose, we knew it could help us achieve this ambition. We are delighted that ESA will support this work heralding a significant milestone for Farmeye and agritech in general,” said Brendan Allen, leader of the bid and co-founder of Farmeye.
The project will use various techniques to estimate the size, structure and characteristics of hedgerows. By using ground measurements combined with satellite data, the project aims to build an automated model capable of tracking hedgerows across the country and feed back information about the wildlife’s contribution.
“We all know the focus on carbon sequestration and habitats at a farm level, however, accurate and scalable measurement of these features will be essential to farmers to mitigate their impacts of production,” said Eoghan Finneran, CEO of Farmeye.
“We chose hedgerows as the focus for this project as they are a dominant but undervalued feature of western European farms. This is particularly the case in Ireland where they cover 6pc of the land area, yet farmers are not given any credit for the biodiversity and carbon sequestration value of these hedges and treelines.”
Finneran concluded by highlighting the project’s potential benefits for farmers and said it would also help with increasing carbon stock and biodiversity on farms.
“We have been working for over four years now with Ireland’s most prominent agri-corporates on soil health programmes and have been using digitalisation as a powerful tool to manage farm-level data,” he said. “This is just the next phase of our development and we are delighted to be involved with ESA Space Solutions.”