Every year, on March 22nd, the United Nations (UN) organises World Water Day. This is a moment to reflect on the critical importance of fresh water in our lives.

At White we are very familiar with this issue. Since 2020, we have been acting as the innovation manager for the Horizon 2020 COALA project* that seeks to improve agricultural productivity in the drought prone Australian Murray-Darlin basin. It does so through Earth Observation-based (EO) applications, that collect data through European satellites. This information can be used to develop precision farming techniques to among other things improve irrigation in the region.

EU – Australian cooperation

In recent years, the European industry of EO services for the agricultural sector has advanced rapidly, generating multiple new business opportunities. COALA taps into these opportunities by promoting a commercial partnership between European and Australian research institutions and SMEs. Leveraging the European experience, Copernicus Earth Observation data is now being applied to the Australian agricultural system to improve farm-level decision making and inform water policy implementation. The COALA services are currently being piloted and will finally be integrated in the local systems of the Murray-Darling Basin, Australia’s largest river system and food bowl.

“As Innovation Manager, we supervise the elaboration of sustainable business models and a tailored business plan for the viable operation and market uptake of the project’s services. In addition to that, we are also responsible for the definition of the Innovation and Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Management strategy. It is very exciting to see how technology can help farmers optimise factors such as water usage for irrigation.” – Giulia Zendron, Project Manager at White Research.

* The COALA project has received funding from European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 870518