Intelligent technology in agriculture with the support of EU and German Government: Agrometeorological Station installed in the West Herzegovina Canton

Initiated by the Regional Development Agency of the West Herzegovina Canton – HERAG and with the financial support of the European Union, an agrometeorological station to monitor farming microclimate was installed in Vojnići, near Ljubuški. This modern station allows measurements and readings of the five most important parameters: precipitation intensity and amount, temperature, air humidity and soil moisture, wind speed and direction, and leaf moisture retention duration.

Recoding, processing and displaying of the data reflecting real situation on the ground makes the planning process of farming activities significantly easier. Well-informed about the conditions for a disease or pest outbreak farmers can take preventive measures. The device is tailored to all types of farming, so that the emitted data are useful for fruit, vegetable as well as mixed-crop farmers and winegrowers.

„Sometimes, it is the difference of only one degree in temperature that determines if crops will be harmed or not”, explained Dubravko Vukojević, a farmer and leader of Farming Cooperative „Plodovi zemlje” (Earth Products) from Ljubuški adding further: „When we get on time the information that, for example, frost that could significantly harm some cultures is expected, we are able to act pre-emptively, and protect our crops. When we know in advance the expected intensity and amount of precipitation, we also know which diseases are threatening plants, and which type of pesticides and to what extent are to be used”.

Soon information just a click away

The data recorded at the agrometeorological station are sent in digital format with the use of the GPRS technology directly to the server of the Reporting and Forecasting Service, installed in the Institute of Agriculture of the West Herzegovina Canton. The received data are processed by the specialised software that has replaced the previous operating mode based exclusively on farmers’ personal experience with crop treatment and arbitrary designation of the quantities of agents.

In this way the harmful impact that the overuse of chemicals has on human health and environment is decreased, savings in their use are made, losses caused by the weather elements are reduced and most importantly income is increased, said Ivica Ćutuk, in charge of the reporting and forecasting system on behalf of the Institute.

To provide timely information to farmers, all relevant agro-meteorological data are currently broadcasted in the programmes of the municipal radio stations. Meanwhile, the Institute works intensively to set a text-messaging information system. „The activities have been undertaken to introduce the text-messaging system, that will bring together all farmers and allow them to receive all the necessary information regularly at their mobile devices, be it a temperature change or a precipitation amount. The information will also be available at the Institute’s web-site” concluded Ćutuk.

Effects of the development partnership efforts

The establishment of the reporting and forecasting service is one of the achievements of the project for development of small and medium-sized enterprises in the value chain of the Ljubuški early potato which is implemented by HERAG in partnership with Farming Cooperative „Plodovi zemlje“ Ljubuški, and companies Rosić and I.B. Borna from Ljubuški. The financial support of BAM 125,805.00 was provided by the European Union through the joint programme for local self-government and economic development in BiH – EU ProLocal implemented by GIZ. „This activity illustrates the importance of networking, partnering for development and the result of joint ventures. That is the reason why the EU ProLocal promotes a collaborative approach to overcoming the obstacles to the private sector development and for competitiveness”, stressed Karin Hoerhan, Programme Manager.

Indeed, the joint efforts of the private, public and business support sectors in this case resulted in connecting of the entire area of the West Herzegovina Canton into the agrometeorological forecasting system. „The direct benefit for over 200 farmers is expected. Furthermore, the analysis of the collected data helps to determine the microclimate of a location, which will, in the long run, allow selection of species, cultivars and farming technologies and thus provide the foundation for further modernization and diversification of agricultural production, to the benefit of everyone”, concluded Ivan Jelčić, Director of HERAG.