Nick Sigrimis
Agricultural University of Athens
, Professor Emeritus, CTO

Control Intelligence in Agriculture 4.0

Sustainability is the process of maintaining all dynamic changes in a well-balanced environment, where the exploitation of resources is presumed for humanitarian needs considering the presence and the future on a suitable significance. In this regard we expect that technological development will advance current and future potential to meet human needs. Substantial advancements and innovations in sensing, informatics, control, and automation technologies, along with projected higher food demand, are rapidly transforming agriculture into a major industry sector. This was confirmed by Bill Gates’ paradigm to buy in March 2021 a 100K hectares of farming land in the States (the biggest farmer in the world). Managing the constantly increasing complexity of agricultural facilities, requires smart controls and sophisticated production management systems, which will in due times adopt a holistic digitalized approach in the context of Industry 4.0; that is what we named Agriculture4.0 and is a sustainable evolution of Precision Agriculture.

The Process Controls and Robotics in a digitalized smart agriculture is the essentials for implementing SDG30, securing prosperity for the society. The emphasis is on integrating the many efforts in sensing and IOT platforms with smart controls leading to optimal end effective actuation for achieving sustainable results. The selected aspects of appropriate ML procedures that realise certain aspects of bio-models and the formation of smart control loop branches inside an overall sustainability performance outer loop, are the vital parts of the future Digital Smart Agriculture. We should keep in mind that for a successful implementation of digital agriculture, ecosystems issues such as socio-fairness, farming prosperity, public investments, and national economic perspectives, must set the decision-making criteria to apply what we call for “wise controls”. Some aspects of such Embedded Evolving Intelligence Control (EEIC) loops will be given based on advanced iSCADA MACQU (MAnagement and Controls for QUality) system.

Important components of digital agriculture, affecting smart controls, are:

  1. Smart sensors and their enabling technologies from Earth to Space (IOT), from manufacturing to integration, from R&D to commercialization, are being developed rapidly. The various disruptive technologies and their innovation applicants produce big data that provide unparalleled knowledge mediated decision-making mechanisms, improving all control domains.
  2. Big Data is expected to have a great impact on Smart Farming, data ownership, and the whole supply chain. It will cause major shifts in power and roles among all players on the primary production and the food chain, which will appeal more economic power in the coming future.
  3. Control Intelligence and Management must take a major role in all levels of Digital Transformation for they provide the Consumer Security and Safety, as well as Support the Farmer for all sustainability issues, in addition to the Politicians’ advise, expressed in “politics” for intelligent decision making.

Biography of the speaker

Nick Sigrimis, obtained his BS in Agriculture from the Agricultural University of Athens (AUA) in Greece, and his MS degree in Agricultural Engineering and the PhD in Electrical Engineering 1982 from Cornell University. With Cornell, as pioneer on RFID-NFC Technology, together with Los Alamos Labs, he holds two Int’l Patents, one on passive RFID (US-PO #4,510,495-1985, referred to by IBM, Honeywell, Texas Instruments, a.o.), and one on sentient RFID (activity sensor, a predecessor of wearable technologies US-PO# 4,618,861-1986) and 4 Greek patents on SCADA technologies for automation and precision management (smartGreenhouse, smartFishery), upgraded on ML for smartFarming. He achieved a first prize in Pan-American Mechanical Design competition 1980 for his renewable fuels design, and a teaching first prize award at Cornell 1981 of Instrumentation course. Focused on Precision Agriculture (PA), currently streamed on smart-Agriculture, he has kept a persisted target in EU projects for producing exploitable technologies, “MACQU” (MAnagement and Control for QUality). He was funded by the Greek Ministry of Development-General Secretariat for Research and Technology/on the Knowledge Economy Program/-and established a spinoff company Geomations in 2004, and a spinout Geosmart in 2014. These companies developed a large market customer base in Greece and are now outreaching on the silk road. Published more than 100 articles and Special Issues. Socio-economic “Research Return On Investment” (scRROI) is his logo for Research funding and “InFarm Researchhis new research insights out of Intelligent Systems for Agriculture 4.0.

More information: An invited editorial interview with Professor Nick Sigrimis, Agricultural University of Athens, on Smart Agriculture and the digital revolution (Biosystems Engineering, 198 (2020), pp. 350-354))