After a long break, KoneAgria once again brought together rural developers and agriculture and forestry professionals. After a few years without the exhibition, it was great to see the newest developments in the industry and meet colleagues again. It was clear that other people there had also been waiting eagerly for the event, as it brought in almost 15,000 visitors. The atmosphere was very positive and abuzz with excitement from beginning to end.
One of KoneAgria’s new features this year was the Innovation Market, which brought together innovations from different organisations. Included in the market were seven fascinating agricultural innovations, all of which had received EIP funding. A presentation like this had never been tried before, but it will almost certainly be seen again – feedback on the Innovation Market was extremely positive. The stand also gave interested visitors an introduction to the ways in which funding can be found for new innovations. The EIP scheme is currently open to new project applications.
The goal of the Innovation Market was to increase awareness of EIP innovations to help them achieve use and further development. I believe we succeeded – throughout the exhibition, the Innovation Market saw many interested industry professionals, including farm operators, other potential users, researchers in the field and developers. The Innovation Market became an excellent spot for meeting people and networking, bringing together different parties interested in agricultural innovation. People at our stand were brainstorming follow-up developments for current innovations and even brand-new projects!
The Innovation Market gave visitors the opportunity to see one of the innovations, a strawberry picking robot, in action. The robotics prototype’s algorithm is able to tell when individual strawberries are ripe, after which the robot can use its robotic arm to pick the berry. Madis Lemsalu from Natural Resources Institute Finland presented the robot in operation to interested visitors. The robot was tested last summer on the fields of several strawberry farms. Though the results were promising, Madis explained that the system is still in need of a lot of further development work before it is ready for operational use.
The Peltodata.fi agricultural mapping service was also a subject of interest for many. The service is an excellent example of the utilisation of open data, which has not been used much in the past. It lets anyone download a free evaluation of the condition of their field plots, based on satellite images taken over the course of several summers. The goal is to offer information that is produced from a wealth of data in a compact and concise package. It has been great following the development of Peltodata.fi, as I was also involved in the early design process of this particular EIP project.
The Innovation Market also presented a concept for fresh wood chips and four solutions related to cattle fodder, feeding and wellbeing: digital baling, smart fodder, thermal imaging, monitoring of feed temperature and natural peptides. All four projects are concerned with finding solutions to practical problems. As with many other projects, these innovations need further funding to continue development after the EIP project comes to an end.
The Yle journalist Juuso Pekkinen also visited the Innovation Market. A few of our innovations even found their way onto Pekkinen’s radio programme, which you can listen to on Yle Areena (in Finnish)!
The Innovation Market’s stage was busy throughout the exhibition. There was already a large crowd gathered on Thursday morning when Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Jari Leppä stepped onto the stage to explain upcoming CAP changes. During the exhibition, the stage also hosted presentations on innovations and EIP funding, grant-giving events and conversations on farmers’ environmental actions.
The Innovation Market’s stage also saw interviews of grant recipients from the Tuottajalle Kiitos (Thank You to Producers) programme on Friday.
The Innovation Market received plenty of positive feedback, and a similar feature could well be organised in the future as well. Thanks to the stand, agriculture and forestry professionals had a place where they could find plenty of information about agricultural innovations under development and opportunities to develop new innovations.
I want to thank everyone who was part of planning and putting together the Innovation Market, as well as everyone who helped make it possible. I hope to see you all again soon!
Coordinator of the Green Growth Working Group
The Innovation Market was organised by the Rural Network’s Green Growth Thematic Group. The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Baltic Sea Action Group and AgriHub were also at the stand.