…a farmer harvests soya from her own fields in the early days of autumn and uses her own facilities to process the raw beans right on-site. She then mixes the processed beans with corn, wheat and other components to produce feed for her herd of laying hens. The produced eggs are packed and the farmer sells them on the spot directly to her customers. In this simple example, the chain of custody is very narrow and comparably easy to survey.
Still in many cases, the soya supply chain is far more complex with many different operations involved. Thus, keeping track of soybean lots can pose a big challenge.
Soya Cultivation in Europe
While cultivation of soya is often related to South America, monocultures, intensive use of pesticides like glyphosate and rainforest deforestation, soya is a crop that grows very well also in Europe and brings ecological benefit to the soil, if properly cultivated. The highest average yields of soya are reported from Europe, with the consumer benefit that cultivation of genetically modified soya is not allowed, at least not in the EU.
Donau Soja Organisation implemented an IP (Identity Preservation) system within the inspection systems to guarantee safe products of verified European origin. Full segregation, continuous documentation and correct declaration on all accompanying documents and packages are required by all partners. Only if these points apply, a company can succeed in the certification process and trade or produce products labelled as Donau Soja or Europe Soya.
This way, consumers can rest assured that the certified soya used in feeding and food production is non-GM, from the Danube region or Europe, traceable and produced according to specific sustainability criteria (e.g. no land use change since 2008, ban of hazardous pesticides, compliance with social & labour rights).
Data, Sensors, Satellites
One main objective of the Donau Soja Organisation is the support of sustainable, non-GM, European soya production. As the content of protein in the soya grain is a major quality indicator, it’s maximisation is high on the agenda, meaning the inputs brought into the system should aim at producing as much protein as possible.
One promising approach is to increase the efficiency of soya cultivation and processing through technical improvements. In that context, earth observation techniques, automated data gathering through sensors and processing through HPC becomes highly relevant.
Within Demonstrator#1 in the Cybele project, Donau Soja and BioSense collaborate on the soya yield and protein prediction model. Based on Sentinell-2 data we work on predicting the outcome of European soya fields in terms of quantity and quality.
Various applications of the prediction model are conceivable, from advising farmers e.g. in terms of tailored seed and fertiliser distribution, to harvest separation by protein thresholds or to predict the estimated outcome as pre-harvest information for purchasers or insurances.
Less inputs by optimising the outcome at the same time are beneficial for the environment and all parties involved, for the ones who produce food and for the ones who eat it.