Technology experts at one of Ireland’s leading research and ICT Institutes have partnered with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM), Teagasc and farmers to develop a geo-tagged photo app that is taking much of the stress and pain out of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) grant payments queries for farm families not just in Ireland but also now in Greece, Estonia and Austria.
AgriSnap, co-designed with key stakeholders, including farmers, agri advisors and departmental staff, was developed at Waterford’s Walton Institute, in South East Technological University (SETU) with the help of funding from the EU Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme. The precision photo app allows farmers send land parcel pictures and information to the grant payments body in seconds to validate payments.
It’s all designed to reduce the need for stressful on-farm inspections and make payments under the new Integrated Administrative Control System (IACS) for administering CAP grants and the resolution of claim queries more seamless.
CAP accounts for just over 30% of the EU budget and farmer supports worth €60bn annually. Direct Payments account for two thirds of this spend. These payments are linked to eligible hectares, valid agricultural activity, compliance with several environmental and management requirements and more. With over 6.2 million beneficiaries annually, technology to support timely and effective administration and validation is key.
As part of the Irish consortium, Walton Institute, in collaboration with DAFM and Teagasc, developed the AgriSnap hybrid application which is available on the Google Play and Apple iOS stores.
The application allows European Paying Agencies such as DAFM to send photo requests to end users, farmers and their advisors. The user can return images to the Paying Agency with each image being tagged with key information including geolocation, timestamp, and device information.
The AgriSnap innovation is all part of the wider New IACS Vision in Action (NIVA) project led by Wageningen University & Research in the Netherlands. The international consortium includes 27 project partners, including 9 Member State Paying Agencies all working together to develop and implement technologies that will deliver a more seamless administrative control of CAP.
NIVA also aims to facilitate data and information flows to support sustainability, competitiveness, efficiency and transparency, thereby improving agricultural performance monitoring and reducing administrative burdens for farmers, paying agencies and other stakeholders.
The device location is tracked through high accuracy GPS data, Walton Institute’s Dave Hearne, explained. “Land Parcel and Request Information is available through a map to allow a high quality user experience. Augmented Reality and help functionality also serve to make this a user-friendly app. Additional features include multi-factor authentication, multi-user functionality, photo gallery management, scheme selection menu, asynchronous scheme management and persisted login.”
As part of its development the AgriSnap app has already been tried and tested across a number of Irish schemes in 2021 and 2022 successfully demonstrating its security and ease-of-use. It has also allowed DAFM to streamline the payment processing with the schemes involved, the Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine’s Stephen Carberry explained.
“In 2021 DAFM rolled out the app for usage on the REAP scheme and the Protein Aid Scheme as part of Checks by Monitoring. This resulted in the submission of over 50,000 photos by farmers and advisors. Following its success, the app was subsequently rolled out this year on two additional schemes, the Straw Incorporation Measure & the Agri-Climate Rural Environment Scheme (ACRES). To date over 100,000 photos have been submitted via AgriSnap and the feedback received from users has been very positive and has led to further improvements in the user experience of the app.”
Teagasc championed comprehensive collaboration and co-creation with key stakeholders which included socio-economic research involving18 key interviews, seven farmer focus groups throughout Ireland and four workshops as well as similar workshops throughout Europe. Each engineering release was followed by subsequent end user/ stakeholder engagement and the direct involvement of farmers meant their needs were incorporated into the technology at all stages of development. Surveys have indicated very positive attitudes to AgriSnap and also revealed useful insights which have led to further improvements.