In february we did our last workshop for this project (although there might be a fourth one depending on extending the project). Our goal for this workshop was threefold: give an update on the existing research, visiting farms, and interview all stakeholders about their experiences with the project. Three British team members were on this trip (professor Ram Ramanathan, Yanqing Duan, Samuel Van Ransbeeck), and we were also joined by John Buglear, (retired) head of department of the school of management at the University of Nottingham, and Usha Ramanathan, Professor of Sustainability and Supply Chains in Nottingham Business School. Lilian Borges, research coordinator from the Unidavi, a University in Rio de Sul, Their input was exceptionally useful as they gave a fresh perspective on the project.
17 february: first interviews
Upon our arrival, we went to interview two EPAGRI (the agency for agriculture research) researchers at the IFC campus, Hilton Amaral and Silvano Garcia. We asked them their experiences with the project and how they see the future. Both were very positive about the project, highlighting its benefits for aquaculture, and the support EPAGRI could give in furthering the project. After the project ends, they can select reference farms where the technology (Seneye or another manufacturer’s product) can be tested more thoroughly. After that testing period, EPAGRI can lobby at FAPESC (the state’s funding agency) to release funding to expand the experiments. In any case, funding coming or not, EPAGRI is willing to offer in-kind support to further the project. The research team and professor Rafael Benito also showed the Seneye unit at the pond and how maintenance happens.
18 february: workshop
The workshop was preceded by a meeting with the directorate, which gave us an insight in the workings of the IFC and we explored ideas for future collaborations. We were also happy to see our Brazilian PI Joaquim Valverde and Silma Battezzati again. There was a good and diverse turnout, including researchers, EPAGRI officials, academics from IFC and from other institutions in Brazil and the UK.
We soon started the workshop with presentations about the project’s context (Joaquim Valverde), the progress so far (Ram Ramanathan and Samuel Van Ransbeeck). After the coffee break, Yanqing Duan talked about the use of big data in Chinese aquaculture. Marcelo Luchetta ended the morning session presenting how technology is being used in his farm.
After lunch, Silvano Garcia explained how EPAGRI has been at the forefront of agriculture research and talked extensively about aquaculture. At the end, Alan Miranda, who developed an automation switch to be used in combination with the Seneye sensor demonstrated how it can be controlled from a relatively long distance (see a video below). In the end, that is what we want: not only improving productivity and sustainability through water monitoring, but also making the work of the farmer easier.
At the end we had a roundtable discussion with all participants on how to take the project forward. The Brazilian team is finishing the software backend now and after that we will order and install new sensors in private farms. Due to the Corona crisis, we might experience some delay but we are confident that we can make it.