5G to Support Agriculture - Workshop in BioPaavo

In mid-June, BioPaavo hosted a workshop of 50 people interested in developing a 5G pilot network in the area of Tarvaala, Saarijärvi, Central Finland. Purpose of the workshop was to ideate the use cases in field of agriculture, more precisely in crop cultivation, and the needs for the test environment rising from these.

Workshop was started with presentations of Saarijärvi City, JAMK University of Applied Sciences – Institute of Bioeconomy, the natural resources department of the Vocational Institute of Northern Central Finland (POKE) and BioPaavo Bioeconomy Business Accelerator. Johan Booij from Wageningen University & Research introduced the audience into the added value of 5G in precision agriculture. Also, three network operators serving 5G in Finland presented the state of their networks and their possibilities. Due to remaining restrictions related to Covid-19, all participants were present on-line, while the presenters gave their presentations virtually or in BioPaavo premises. A crew of workshop facilitators and moderators hosted the on-line workshop using Zoom web conference service and Howspace platform.

Workshop covered three themes in which the participants were able to provide their ideas and expertise to define the pilot environment. One theme covered needs related to precision agriculture and environmental research. Second theme covered needs and difficulties of agriculture entrepreneurs in adopting new technologies into their practices. Third theme connected the previous topics into a needs-based design considering the technical aspects of the network.

As a result, we were able to activate tens of interested people into co-creating the needs definition and planning for the execution of the pilot environment. Participants introduced tens of applications and use-cases, partners, and service providers along with other aspects to take into consideration. Most of the participants were not so familiar with the technical aspects of 5G networks, and one reason to take part into the workshop was also considered to be the chance to learn of the possibilities it provides for agriculture. Nevertheless, also some worries were highlighted e.g. in relation to network coverage issues concerning earlier generations, too.

Feedback of the workshop was enthusiastic, and several participants were interested in taking part of following development phases too. Development work will continue in August. For more information, please contact Minna Lappalainen (@minna.lappalainen) or Merja Rehn (@merja.rehn).