INESC TEC part of project to monitor working conditions in the agroforestry sector
01st February 2023
What if it were possible to collect and digitalise data related to agricultural production and income? And to quantify the repetitive movements of each worker and, consequently, prevent musculoskeletal diseases? The AgWearCare project provides answers to many of these questions, through the creation of wearables desgined to collect data that support the management of human resources in the agroforestry sector, helping decision-makers in terms of well-being and productivity.
The tests have already started in a controlled environment on the ground, i.e., vineyards and olive groves. Through the data collected by devices delivered to workers, it is possible to monitor a set of data that will later be included on an online platform.
The analysis of the data collected will allow the project’s team to: understand which tasks (when repeated excessively) have consequences for the health of the workers; adjust the tasks to the potential of people; understand which parcels of land show greater productivity, etc.
This type of information is crucial to adjust production to natural elements, to develop and improve crops in a more sustainable way, ensuring that there is no risk to workers while performing activities that involve, for instance, the harvesting process.
In addition to INESC TEC, the project also involves the Instituto Superior de Agronomia and APPITAD – Association of Producers in Integrated Protection of Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro, with Wisecrop as leading entity.
The modernisation of the agroforestry sector is, according to Francisco Pavão, president of APPITAD, vital to its development, but also to ensure safety at work. "This data is increasingly important to make the most of crops and relocate the workforce", he explained, also stating that: "by understanding the productivity level of our employees and the way they work, we can also create better working conditions and benefit from our own yields".
Duarte Dias, the head of the project at INESC TEC, said that the Institute's participation focuses on "the development of new wearable devices and signal processing and machine learning algorithms towards collecting real-time data, on the ground, to further process it and extract different metrics that support the agricultural managers: in terms of individual tasks, the collective performance of workers and the production itself.
This project brings together two INESC TEC research groups: the Centre for Biomedical Engineering Research (C-BER), represented by Duarte Dias, and the Laboratory of Artificial Intelligence and Decision Support (LIAAD), represented by João Mendes Moreira.
This monitoring system fits perfectly into Wisecrop's strategy, according to Tiago Sá, the company's CEO: "the tools for monitoring working conditions developed under AgWearCare bring significant added value to the already extensive range of solutions made available by Wisecrop", he explained, highlighting that it allows "to create a niche market where the use of machinery is reduced or non-existent. In this sense, Wisecrop's contribution to the mission of digitalising agriculture becomes even more real and comprehensive”.
Gonçalo Rodrigues, from the Instituto Superior de Agronomia, added that "the solution developed will increase the productivity of the agricultural workforce, optimising crop-related operations, while guaranteeing the well-being of workers". "It is important to keep moving towards a more innovative, technological and efficient sector, empowering it with tools that ensure a more efficient use of resources" he concluded.
The AgWearCare project is funded by the Portugal2020 national programme (€289K).