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LITEK™ > Posts  > The synergie between photonics and the agro sector

The synergie between photonics and the agro sector

Photonics, as an enabling technology, is important in a wide range of fields, from mechanical engineering to life sciences and medicine. Over the next decade, photonics will have a major impact on our daily lives, transforming industries and addressing critical challenges such as climate change and improving society’s quality of life. The agricultural and food sectors (agri-food) are no exception.

The cross-sectoral potential of innovation and the promotion of synergies were discussed at the EU Industry Days. Laser and Engineering Technologies Cluster (LITEK™) together with AgriFood Lithuania DIH became the official organizer of one of the topics of the EU Industry Days in Brussels.

The Minister of Environment of Lithuania Simonas Gentvilas, opening the discussion organized by AgriFood Lithuania DIH and LITEK™ at the biggest event of the year European Commission’s dedicated to the industry, said that as a society we need to change from an industrial society that promotes the greenhouse effect to industrial and post-industrial society whose activities do not adversely affect the environment. The Minister was pleased that our country has drastically reduced its GHG emissions since 1990, also at the period when the country’s economy was booming. Cases of declining emissions and strong economic growth are not very common. According to the Minister, the largest sectors are now living in a period of change, so it will take a lot of resources to make those changes a success. As Mr Simonas Gentvilas noted, in some sectors (including agriculture and food) it will be difficult to significantly reduce emissions without losing productivity, so it is necessary to encourage a debate in which clusters, governments and innovators are actively involved.

Photonics is an untapped potential in the agri-food sector

“Photonics is one of the key technologies enabling innovation and digitization. It can offer unique solutions that bring modern technology as close as possible to its speed, capacity and accuracy. Although the use of photonic solutions in the agri-food sector is only in the growth stage, it is already used to monitor soil condition and hydrology, to determine protein content in grain yields, to advise on when to harvest fruit, to assess water quality or fish stocks in a body of water,“- introduced the examples of photonics applications in the agricultural sector Kristina Ananičienė, the head of Laser and Engineering Technologies Cluster (LITEK ™).

“Photonics is an essential green and sustainable technology for the agri-food sector. The key question is not whether the agri-food sector in general could benefit from photonics, but how it could be used most effectively. All companies that have implemented solutions related to photonics innovation, both in agriculture and food and in other sectors, have faced a reality that has shown that successful innovation requires top-level experts and appropriate technology platforms. In addition, despite these challenges due to limited resources, technology must be affordable. We have developed a model in our activities that helps various companies (especially small and medium-sized ones) that want to implement photonics technologies, ”- said Pan-European DIH: PhotonHUB Europe coordinator prof. dr. Ir. Hugo Thienpont.

He was supported in this discussion by Ziga Valic, Director of EU and international affairs at „Pole OPTITEC“. According to him, the untapped potential is mainly determined not only by technological challenges due to the lack of understanding of the potential benefits of photonics integration, but also by differences between generations. However, it is already clear that young farmers are increasingly willing to incorporate advanced technologies into their operations.

Benoit Buntinx, Business Development Director at „EIT Food“, emphasized the importance of photonics and said he was surprised at how many start-ups companies in the agri-food sector were already using laser technology in their operations.

Cooperation between clusters and digital innovation hubs (DIH)

Kristina Šermukšnytė-Alešiūnienė, the Director of AgriFood Lithuania DIH, in presenting the report, said that small and medium-sized enterprises in agriculture and food face many transformation challenges due to a lack of understanding and appropriate digitization skills. Cooperation between digital innovation hubs, including photonics, and clusters should play an important role here, linking the whole value chain and providing a valuable platform for knowledge sharing across sectors. Cooperation could explore, monitor innovation and technology, increase the dissemination of information and focus on R&D, create ecosystems, provide more technical support, provide technology testing, support technical infrastructure, develop new training programs and many other useful things.

 

„PhotonHUB Europe“ coordinator prof. dr. Ir. Hugo Thienpont

“EIT Food” business development director Benoit Buntinx

“AgriFood Lithuania DIH” director Kristina Šermukšnytė-Alešiūnienė

Laser and Engineering Technologies Cluster (LITEK ™) manager Kristina Ananičienė

The Minister of Environment of the Republic of Lithuania Simonas Gentvilas

“Pole OPTITEC” director of EU and international affairs  Ziga Valic

Daugiau informacijos apie ūkio ir maisto sektoriaus neišnaudotą potencialą, įgalinant fotonikos sprendimus savo veikloje, bei Europos Komisijos inicijuotą „Startuolių regiono“ koncepciją: https://www.vz.lt/pramone/2022/03/15/europos-akys–i-lietuvos-agromaisto-sektoriu#ixzz7NhyATWSC