Pillar 2: multi-scale and multi-modal approaches for monitoring key environmental parameters

The main objective of Pillar 2  is to develop and test approaches for monitoring key environmental parameters for vegetation, soil and meteorology from the plot scale to the scale of more than 1000 km² by integrating satellite based remote sensing, drone based (Unmanned Arial Vehicle – UAV) remote sensing, ground based remote sensing, ground sensors and modelling. 

With the approach, Pillar 2 follows two scientific objectives: 
a) to improve the understanding of environmental processes mainly in the field of Soil-Vegetation-Atmosphere-Transfer of water and energy as well as vegetation development and their spatio-temporal pattern in grasslands and other ecosystems in an alpine environment;
b) to evaluate the potential of sensors synergies and develop methods for data integration of different types of EO, ground networks and models in monitoring key environmental parameters. 
Furthermore, Pillar 2 serves the data demand for applications in the field of agriculture and energy (Pillar 3). The main focus of EURAC test sites will be grasslands. However, Pillar 2 activities will be complemented by activities in existing test site in orchards and forest which are maintained by Laimburg, University Bolzano, or other authorities of the Autonomous Province of Bolzano. In general, activities will focus on agriculture but also cover forested area, where potential activities will be defined in the scope of the project with Laimburg, University Bolzano and the forest authorities and linked to the activities on forest in Pillar 3.

Pillar 3: application fields of key environmental parameters

The monitoring activities of environmental conditions are very relevant also to provide information to biological production processes that are carried out at the site level. This is the case of farming and forest systems, for which the search for productive approaches aiming to match criteria of profitability, sustainability and quality must necessarily consider aspects such as:
  • the adoption of production systems with low environmental impacts and costs, through the use of tools for the automatic control of the distribution of all the consumable inputs, with particular regard to potential chemical pollutants (fertilizers and pesticides);
  • the implementation of advanced "management" solutions in order to improve the quality of controls to be carried out by the direction of the enterprise, with consequent higher labor productivity and lower production costs;
  • the establishment of management conditions that favor, potentially also on farms and forestry enterprises, the implementation of automated forms of documentation in order to meet goals of quality certification (such as ISO 9000 and 14000, etc.), transparency of production protocols and traceability of products, thus meeting the knowledge requirements from market and consumers. 

The general strategy of Pillar 3 is then to achieve the following scientific objectives:
  1. develop a conceptual model that integrates, through an information system, all the various types of information related to environmental, productive (including physiological data) and operational monitoring activities that can be carried out at the enterprise (link with Pillar 4);
  2. define how to integrate this information with external data, coming from monitoring activities carried out at a larger (land) scale  (link with Pillar 2);
  3. develop technologies and methods to make available the various types of monitoring to individual enterprises, without requiring them large investments and the internal presence of highly skilled personnel  (link with Pillar 5).

Pillar 4: non-destructive test methods in agriculture
PERSON RESPONSIBLE: Angelo Zanella, Michael Oberhuber

Pillar 4 is pursuing the objective, to establish sensor-based and spectroscopic methods for the non-destructive quality assessment of food. Spectroscopic data from a multi-sensor approach will be correlated with conventional internal and external quality parameters, in order to develop prediction systems for the quality and storage potential of agricultural products. Pillar 4 is adopting, evaluating and further developing the technology at disposal in the platform of Pillar 5 and is expanding the use of sensor monitoring technologies to the whole agricultural supply chain, from farm to fork. Linking the outcome of the present Pillar 4 with pre-harvest data from Pillar 2 and Pillar 3 will allow a much broader assessment of the factors that influence the quality of food as it was possible until now. Pillar 4 is concentrating on apple fruit as the South-Tyrolean leading agricultural product. It will allow a tight integration of industrial partners (Pillar 6) and a punctual implementation of the results obtained (Pillar 7).

Pillar 5: technologies and methods
The main objective of the WP5 is to define and develop a common “Technology Platform” for the integrated environmental monitoring among the scientific pillars (2,3 and 4) and to coordinate the technical infrastructure (sensors, computing environment, metadata structure, data and applications presentation) of the project.
The platform is both an abstract framework and an IT infrastructure, which fulfil the following needs:
  1. Knowledge sharing between ST research institutions and SME on the same topic: integrated environmental monitoring;
  2. Definition of common requirements, recommendation and standards allowing the set-up of the South Tyrol Sensor DB;
  3. Design and build an IT infrastructure capable to handle the data/products and services related with the main tests sites of the project, for: 
    • Sensors knowledge/management
    • Data and metadata structure
    • Data and applications presentation
    • Computing environment

Pillar 6: integration of companies and industry
The goal of this Work package is to accelerate and support the science – industry cooperation within the MONALISA project.
This cooperation should intensify knowledge and technology transfer between the partners and stimulate future cooperation projects between science and industry.

Pillar 7: integration of users
Within the framework of MONALISA, the potential users of the data and results will be involved from the beginning in all the important processes. The expressed user requirements are an essential reference for all MONALISA Work packages. Furthermore, the user will help to validate the utility and quality of the projects and contribute to shape the vision for future MONALISA research and products beyond the 3 years of the first project period.


Common user requirements

Common key environmental parameters

Common test sites

Common technologies