Adapt2Change project introduction and significance
What is the LIFE + Programme
The LIFE + programme is one of the most important EU financial instruments funding projects that contribute to the development and implementation of policy and governance in the field of environment. This programme facilitates especially the integration of environmental concerns into other policies, and generally helps promote sustainable development.
The Life + programme as a priority has issues related to climate change, environment, health and quality of life, natural resources and waste and aims to contribute to the development and demonstration of innovative policy approaches, technologies, methods and tools.
The idea of Adapt2change
Based on the above criteria the Adapt2change team led by Professor Dr. Alexander Papahatzis at TEI of Larisa and their colleagues, in 2009 successfully submitted the Adapt2change proposal at the Life + tool, as having a key role to promote agricultural technologies and policies that respect the environment by looking to the future generations.
The Adapt2change in a nutshell
The Adapt2change project "Adapt agricultural production to climate change and limited water supply LIFE 09 ENV/GR/000296" is the key to address the risk that has been created by the continuous extravagance of natural resources in an unsustainable way in the agricultural sector.
The overall objective of the project is to demonstrate the ability to adapt farming to climate change and the limited supply of water resources. Water scarcity and water pollution is an environmental threat that affects large parts of the European Union. As climate change is expected to exacerbate the shortage of water resources, the proposed project introduces an innovative approach to minimize the demand for water in agriculture and reduce energy demand while removing pollution from agriculture. This innovative approach can be applied across the EU, because it relies on shallow geothermal energy which is widely available. The project provides interested parties with the necessary means to struggle with a lack of water in a sustainable way, ensuring agricultural production.
The main activities include the project are:
- Preparation activities - preparing the site installation & prototyping module.
- Testing & Production period - Demonstrating technical and economic viability.
- Strategic communication & efficient dissemination of project deliverables.
- Campaign for the adaptation of agriculture to climate change.
Upon completion of the project Adapt2change a number of objectives that promote sustainable agricultural practices that can be implemented by all farmers will have been achieved. Some of these objectives can be summarized as follows:
- Construction of a prototype systems - water recycling based on shallow geothermal energy, which can be demonstrated easily with the help of practical guides for planning and implementation.
- Application manual for the use of shallow geothermal energy in agriculture.
- Adapting farming to climate change.
- Guide for environmentally friendly agricultural production.
- Manual on Compliance Strategy with the CAP (Common Agricultural Policy).
- Guidelines for the control and automation design of the greenhouses.
- Guide for sustainable water use in greenhouses.
- Guides for sustainable farming.
- Remote control support (RCS).
- Guide to provide remote assistance for agricultural production.
- Proposal for agricultural policy reform in terms of water recycling. (Greece - Cyprus).
- Material form the awareness campaigns.
Adapt2change - A springboard for the shift to sustainable
Many terms and names have been assigned to the effort of TEI of Thessaly and the other Adapt2change project partners, such as ecological, sustainable, innovative, environmentally friendly greenhouses etc. The Adapt2change team greets all the characterizations, but what has been the sole purpose and goal is the successful completion of the Adapt2change project, which is a bet that if won, will demonstrate to the international community that agricultural development and sustainability are terms that are in line and coexist.
The importance of the Adapt2change project to the human
Providing food, the necessary material for human survival, depends on various environmental conditions, such as the quality and availability of water, soil condition, availability of energy, etc. Because of the extensive and exhaustive agricultural practice during recent decades many environmental issues have arisen. Climate change is expected to affect the quality and quantity of water. In northern Europe the most important issue for the water are the polluted soil, while in southern Europe, drought and land degradation are threatening the agricultural economy and social welfare. The water supply in southern Europe is based on drilling and water pumping from the aquifer resulting in the depletion of buffer stocks of water and the use of permanent reserves resulting in change in equilibrium conditions and penetration of sea water into the aquifer. Moreover, the degradation and pollution of the soil reduces productivity. The adapt2change project, aims at minimizing the demand for water from agriculture, reducing pollution from fertilizers and pesticides, minimize CO2 emissions and adaptation of agriculture to climate change.
The Adapt2change as a means to address climate change
The use of water for agricultural purposes is a fundamental issue for discussion, since globally in the agricultural sector it is the highest consumer of water. Although the expansion of irrigated land will increase agricultural production and food supply, a series of dry hydrological years which are usually gathered together (Hurst phenomenon), contribute to negative effects on both the quantity and quality of water. Although the agricultural sector is the most important in economic terms in all Mediterranean countries, it has also become the largest consumer of water. In Greece, the average amount of water used for agricultural purposes, is ranging from 80 to 85% of total water use, compared with the average of 70% globally (Source: Greek Ministry of Agriculture). At the same time, the use of water in agriculture has become very inefficient, with an efficiency rate of only about 35%. In Cyprus, 85% of water used in agriculture, in Italy 70% and Spain 80%. Large amounts of water are wasted because farmers lack knowledge on appropriate irrigation practices and have inadequate irrigation systems.
The adapt2change through the construction and demonstration of best practices, aims to reduce water consumption in agriculture at a rate equal to about 90%.
Today, greenhouses produce high-quality agricultural products in controlled conditions. Although the greenhouse is a known technology, today evolution of technological advances and research in this field allows the control of all conditions in a facility and achieve high productivity. The water flow, temperature, nutrients are monitored by sophisticated equipment assisting systems to maximize production while achieving excellent quality. The production can be independent of environmental factors. THE CO2 at high concentration (800ppm) increases production by 45%. The production in a controlled closed environment is independent of any seasonal changes. To achieve these high yields, high energy requirements are needed for each facility in terms of heating and cooling. Today, renewable energy sources can reduce energy costs and support environmentally friendly agricultural production. The Adapt2change aims to cut about 75% of conventional energy sources.
The added value of the Adapt2change project
With the strict implementation of all proposed actions and sub-actions of the project, very small amount of carbon footprint will be producing during the production phase of the greenhouses, since the energy for heating and cooling will be based on geothermal energy. The electricity that will be required, will only be used to support geothermal heat pumps, fans and for the operation of the automation systems. Geothermal heat pumps use much less energy than conventional heating systems, since they draw heat from the ground. The efficiency of production may be much higher since the producer has the ability to fully control the environment of the unit. All resources are used in the best possible way. The proposed system is closed, thus there is no leakage of fertilizers on the environment. Therefore it makes full use of the fertilizer resulting in less fertilizer use and less production of solid and liquid waste. Finally it should be mentioned that apart from the environmental benefits resulting from the implementation of the adapt2change deliverables, there is an economic benefit to producers making investment in greenhouses that are economically viable and affordable.