Improved Common Agricultural Policy compliance with publicly available and user-generated data
Implementation of the EU's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) seeks, amongst other ambitions, to ensure sustainability in the agricultural sector while supporting farmers. It relies on effectively monitoring compliance with its standards. This has, in the past, been conducted through field visits and other options. Owing to the complexity and diversity of the data, these options can be time consuming and costly for both public administrations and farmers.
To ease this burden, the EU-supported project RECAP developed a Software as a Service (SaaS) commercial platform to help with compliance monitoring. This cloud-based solution makes use of large volumes of publicly available data generated by remote satellite sensing, combined with data provided by farmers themselves through mobile devices.
RECAP contributes to wider EC policies to deliver tools for enhanced e-public services that help streamline the workloads of public administrations. According to project coordinator, Ms Machi Symeonidou: "The participating Public Administrations declared that the RECAP platform made compliance monitoring more transparent and efficient. This was achieved by making every step of the monitoring process visible to all involved parties, and also by remotely monitoring farmers' compliance thereby reducing the number of on-the-spot-checks."
Co-designed and co-created
The current, somewhat cumbersome system for monitoring CAP compliance has led to misunderstandings, resulting in non-compliance and so avoidable penalties. To make the workflow more user-friendly and intuitive, the team co-designed and co-created the RECAP compliance platform.
"By putting end users and service providers at the heart of platform development and taking account of their feedback, we were able to identify obstacles early and so deliver a platform adapted to the real needs of target users," says Symeonidou.
By exploiting open access satellite data from the Sentinel missions alongside other geo-information data, the RECAP team developed a platform which provided farmers with personalized services. Catering to individual needs and farm characteristics, these services include alerts for time-bound CAP obligations that are automatically added to individual calendars, along with guidance on meeting the standards required. The platform can also store documentation about CAP rules, along with compliance application documents and supporting assets such as geo-referenced and time-stamped satellite photos.
The platform was also intended to stimulate the development of new added value services offered by agricultural consultants and developers, giving them access to design tools for the creation of platform 'add-ons," as well as access to the open public data (subject to security and privacy policies).
More user-centric e-public services
RECAP has been applied and validated in five operational environments (Spain, Serbia, Greece, Lithuania and the United Kingdom) engaging more than 750 farmers and 470 consultants. In total, 455 inspections, both remote and on-site, have been undertaken by authorized public administration personnel using the platform.
The information gathered and generated through the RECAP platform was found to be accurate and representative, while reducing both the time needed to validate compliance and the associated administrative costs.
The open source RECAP platform is currently available under the GNU General Public License. The remote sensing components are also market-ready. Both can be hosted either on project partners' servers or on the client's own servers.