Damien Fumey is an agronomist and plant modeling researcher and R&D project manager at itk. He will be present with the itk team of researchers dedicated to the SunAgri3 project at the first international Agrivoltaïcs 2020 conference to be held on line. Damien unveils in preview the stakes of itk at this event for agriculture with high environmental technicity.

What does itk stand for, the presence at this international conference, Agrivoltaics 2020?

We will be present at Agrivoltaics 2020 to showcase the research and development that itk is doing as part of the Sun’Agri 3 collaborative research program. This will be an opportunity for itk to present our work on growth modeling and simulation of crops, associated with a new technology of crop protection and safeguarding of the water resource that is dynamic agrivoltaism.

Can you present the Sun’Agri 3 research project?

Since 2009, Sun’R, and more specifically its subsidiary Sun’Agri, has been working on dynamic agrivoltaism. Itk, a French AgTech company, joined SunAgri in 2017 as part of the Sun’Agri 3 collaborative project with INRAE and Photowatt.
In this research project, itk is responsible for developing agronomic models that will be used to define the best shading strategies through the management of photovoltaic panels, while ensuring the best lighting conditions to maximize crop development.

Thanks to itk’s experience in agronomic modelling, and its expertise in real-time monitoring of the water cycle and nutrients in plant growth, the blinds are controlled according to physiological needs (light, water, etc.) each of the crops concerned (vineyards, arboriculture, greenhouse gardening and field crops). Thus, itk’s simulation algorithms bring intelligence to the control strategy of the panels.

What are the environmental and farmer benefits of Sun’Agri 3?

Through this shading management guided by the needs of the plant, we achieve a reduction in the water consumption of the crops while protecting the plants from strong heat and «sunburn». But the benefits don’t end there. Indeed, the technology developed by Sun’Agri also helps protect crops against the risk of frost in winter and especially in spring when the vegetation resumes. Finally, the structure required for the panels allows for the deployment of rain nets or protection against pests. Thus the farmer has a real tool to protect against climate hazards, which brings him a new solution in the preservation of the yields and the quality of his crop production while producing renewable energy.

You will present to this conference the work of four current theses at itk. This is unique, can you tell us a few words in advance?

This is indeed a unique approach that we are taking thanks to the successful partnership that has been established between the different stakeholders within the Sun’Agri 3 research program. Modelling is a major topic in this project and itk frames in this modelling component four CIFRE theses that address the challenges of viticulture, tree growing, greenhouse gardening and field crops, in this context of research of protection solutions to climatic hazards.

What is singular in these theses is the study of the dynamic shading aspect. Indeed, a lot of research has made it possible to understand and characterize the ecophysiological responses of plants to shade, but the fact of being able to pilot it almost instantaneously opens a new field of research. The research carried out by the itk doctoral students with the researchers of the INRAE laboratories and their supervisors will have direct consequences from an application point of view on the best strategies for each type of crop.

See you online from October 14 to 16.
Meet itk at AgriVoltaics 2020: first international conference on agrivoltaism