In line with the farm to fork strategy and the Headline ambitions of a Digital Age and Economy that works for people, leaving no one behind, and the biodiversity strategy, the successful proposals will support the development of small- and medium sized farms to benefit from digital technologies and strengthen their capacities to their effective and efficient deployment. Projects will therefore contribute to the development of sustainable, productive and climate-neutral and resilient farming systems providing consumers with affordable, safe, healthy and sustainable food, minimising pressure on ecosystems, improving public health and generating fair economic returns for farmers through the development of smart solutions for the use of digital technologies for small- and medium-sized, farms and farm structures. Project results are expected to contribute to all of the following outcomes:
- Innovative solutions for the use of digital technologies (fostering soft- and hardware) tailored to the needs of small- and medium-sized farms and farm structures, including crop- and livestock production;
- Increased uptake of innovative digital technologies by farmers;
- Contribution to avoiding an increased digital divide between small and large farms;
- Increase in the environmental and economic performance of small- and medium-sized farms in the EU and Associate Countries.
Despite the potential of digital technologies to increase the economic and environmental performance of the agricultural sector, there is still need to increase the uptake of precision farming tools, particularly among small- and medium-sized farms. An increase in the digital divide between small and large farms is to be avoided.
While one main reason for this circumstance is – as for many investments in agricultural equipment – investments in digital technologies frequently only become cost-effective, if a critical mass of production volume is given. In addition, small- and medium-sized farms and farms structures have in some areas specific needs and strengths, because of e.g. a small average parcel seize, which should be considered in the development of digital solutions for the sector.
Proposals should cover all of the following aspects:
- Development and piloting of cost-effective digital solutions for small- and medium-sized farms and farm structures for at least grass land and arable crops under representative consideration of the diverse environmental, climatic and socio-economic conditions across the EU and Associated Countries.
- Development of business and/ or governance models facilitating the roll-out of the piloted innovation at larger scale in several countries; if relevant, models may not only consider financing the purchase of the digital solutions but also the establishment of other framing conditions or propose public intervention (e.g. data provision) or public-private partnerships or cooperative (digital) service provision and taking.
Proposals must implement the multi-actor approach, involving at least scientists, , SMEs, and representatives of the agricultural sector. Proposals are expected to demonstrate how networking activities fostering the exchange of experiences and knowledge transfer are organised. Exchange/ collaborate with Digital Innovation Hubs and the consideration of the potential of social innovation to increase efficiency and effectiveness in the wider application of the developed innovative digital solutions are encouraged. Special attention may also be given to certain crops and / or sub-branches, and/or specific production processes for which currently less dedicated precision farming technologies are available on the market.
Proposals may involve financial support to third parties to provide direct support (e.g. in the form of cascading grants) to researchers, developers, SMEs, start-ups and other multidisciplinary actors in particular for populating, testing and validating use cases and/ or other actions contributing to the objectives of the project. A maximum of € 60 000 per third party might be granted. Conditions for third parties support are set out in Part B of the General Annexes. Consortia need to define the selection process of organisations, for which financial support will be granted. Maximum 20% of the EU funding can be allocated to this purpose. The financial support to third parties can only be provided in the form of grants.