Decisions on irrigation in farm management are not made for purely agricultural reasons any more. In recent years the cost of irrigating has shown a rising tendency lead by the increase in the price of energy and synthetic fertilizers. In addition, the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD) urges a new model phasing out water subsidies for agriculture and implementing the principle of full cost recovery, pricing water to reflect its full resource and environmental cost.
Drip irrigation is the most widespread technology for irrigating and fertigating fruit tree crops because of its high efficiency, but its benefits are often lost due to inadequate management practices leading to excessive use of input water, fertilizers and, indirectly, energy. The EFFIDRIP project aims at removing the technical obstacles that prevent next-generation service-oriented irrigation/fertigation management systems getting to market. By providing the keys for automating the field data acquisition, decision making and control processes efficiently, equipment manufacturers and service providers will be able to rapidly develop and commercialize such system: a new tool that will permit fruit farmers and agro SMEs to increase water, fertilizer and energy use efficiency up to 15%, representing a significant reduction of production costs; will relieve them of routine tasks required for efficient irrigation practices, thus gaining time for higher-value management tasks; and will facilitate the adoption of more sustainable practices. Given the increasing importance of sustainability in agriculture and the business opportunity to modernize within the context of the generational shift towards more industrial production models, both European agricultural and irrigation sector, as well as our environment, would benefit from the precision irrigation system here proposed.