United Nations/Romania International Conference on Space Solutions for Sustainable Agriculture and Precision Farming

Cluj-Napoca, Cluj, Romania, 06-10 May 2019

C o-organized by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs and the Romanian Space Agency on behalf of the Government of Romania, with the support of the Cluj-Napoca University of Agricultural Sciences and Veterinary Medicine, the Office for Soil Science and Agrochemistry, Cluj, and the Romanian Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing.

Hosted by the Cluj-Napoca University of Agricultural Sciences and Veterinary Medicine

Key Information and Documents

Application deadline for applicants seeking funding: 24 March 2019

Application deadline for applicants on a self-funded basis: 31 March 2019

  • Preliminary Programme to be announced
  • Practical Information (including details about recommended accommodation) to be announced
  • Information Note

Venue: Cluj-Napoca University of Agricultural Sciences and Veterinary Medicine
Dates: 06-10 May 2019 (06-08/05: conference sessions; 09/05: optional field visit; 10/05: hands-on workshop on education)

Please check this website regularly for updated information.

Introduction     

The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) and the Government of Romania through the Romanian Space Agency (ROSA) are jointly organizing the above Conference to promote the use of space technology and solutions for sustainable agriculture and precision farming, to address key issues related to global food security.

The Conference will be held in Cluj, Romania, from 6 to 10 May 2019, hosted by the University of Agricultural Sciences and Veterinary Medicine (USAMV) in Cluj-Napoca and supported by the Office for Soil Science and Agrochemistry (OSPA), Cluj, and the Romanian Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (SRFT).

The Conference is aiming to address key issues related to utilization of space technologies and solutions for a sustainable agriculture, addressing number of indicators and targets under the sustainable Development Goals framework and considering the challenges related to food security worldwide, with increasing populations and corresponding pressures on the available agricultural land.

Background

Space technologies, including satellite remote sensing integrated with geospatial technologies and location-based services, have demonstrated the capabilities in addressing challenges related to sustainable agriculture, be it from a stress created due to increasing demand for food, conversion of productive land to a different purpose, impacts of natural disasters or long-term impacts of a changing climate. Continuous Earth observation from space is crucial to manage and monitor agricultural resources for the benefit of humankind and the environment, as well as to provide important forecasting services to prevent water-related disasters such as floods and droughts that could increasingly affect agricultural production and food security. Remote sensing satellites that provide data on several key variables related to soil, crop, water or weather at various spatial and temporal scales are highly appropriate for reliable agricultural planning and management. Satellite-based navigation systems are widely used for expansion of precision farming and more efficient use of resources. Precision farming technologies often use global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) to improve efficiency with products and techniques that can cut unnecessary expenses on seed, fuel, agrochemicals and time.

The Office for Outer Space Affairs, through its Programme on Space Applications, addresses space technology applications in various workshops and conferences organized at the request of Member States. Results of those events also provides a means to review progress and address unmet needs. Most recently, food and water security were addressed in a workshop organized with the Government of Pakistan in 2013.

 Furthermore, as the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS), to which the UNOOSA serves as the secretariat, is defining a Space2030 vision in support of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with the related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), based on a mandate received during UNISPACE+50 in June 2018, the importance of space technologies and related applications in supporting the implementation of the SDGs and other international agreements, along with related monitoring and reporting activities at the national level increases further.

The Conference provides an opportunity to reflect on common interests in line with the aforementioned global agendas, identify gaps, and discuss how space technologies can contribute to improved management of agricultural resources in general, as well as specific issues such as precision farming, water availability and irrigation challenges, combating desertification, floods and drought monitoring when impacting agricultural production, or managing food-security related challenges in developing countries.

Conference Objectives

The main objectives of the UN/Romania International Conference are:

  • To share practices and tools on space-based solutions for improved sustainable agriculture and precision farming;
  • To promote space technologies for food security research and early crop yield forecasts
  • To raise awareness on international, regional and national initiatives, monitoring frameworks and international or interregional cooperation in the domains of agriculture and food security;
  • To share opportunities for education, training and capacity building relevant for various target groups on using space technologies to address water- or food-related challenges in agricultural processes, as well as public awareness initiatives in the area;
  • To demonstrate use cases on successful applications of space technologies for improving agricultural processes and food security in developing countries;
  • To discuss new or emerging technologies and approaches in these domains; and
  • To highlight 'space in agriculture' in support of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Programme

The Conference will comprise a series of keynote presentations and technical sessions with sufficient time set aside for discussion. Each technical session will be followed by an open discussion focusing on specific topics of interest and providing additional opportunities for participants to voice their opinions. The programme of the Conference will include sessions addressing, among others, the following themes:

  1. Pedometrics, precision farming, sustainability and adaptation to climate change;
  2. Space applications for water security and risk management;
  3. Integrated applications of space technologies providing cost-effective solutions and essential information for planning and implementation of programmes or projects to enhance management, protection and restoration of water resources;
  4. Space technologies in coping with the effects of climate change;
  5. Use of space-based technologies in mitigating water-related emergencies, agricultural water use and storage or in combating desertification and drought;
  6. Emerging technologies: Big data, geo-statistics, radar, LiDAR, UAVs, automation, agricultural drones and satellite imagery for building inclusive agriculture ecosystems;
  7. Spatial analysis and soil classification, monitoring of soil functions and proximal soil sensing;
  8. Land productivity assessment: current global soil and humus status and monitoring solutions;
  9. Capacity building related to space solutions in agriculture and food security, including development of human resources, establishing technical infrastructure and legal frameworks, and access to financial resources;
  10. Agro-environmental governance and policies;
  11. Integrated tools combining earth observation and other technologies in support of small-scale agriculture and subsistence farming; and
  12. Crop yield and productivity forecasts.

The Conference discussions will address ways of expanding the use of space technologies and information/data towards more sustainable agriculture practices, as well as identifying the priority areas where specific pilot projects could be launched, while considering potential partnerships that could be established.

Participants will also be able to participate in an optional field trip, to be organized by the Local Organizing Committee in conjunction with the International Conference. Furthermore, following the Conference, a hands-on interactive workshop on education will be offered for interested participants.

Registration

Please note that applicants based in Romania should apply through a different system than applicants based outside Romania.

Applicants based in Romania: APPLY NOW

Applicants based outside Romania: APPLY NOW

Participation is limited and all applicants based outside Romania are required to register online. All applicants are required to submit a completed online application form. Pre-selected candidates will be required to submit further documentation. Late and/or incomplete applications will not be considered.

Successful applicants will receive an official invitation letter, including additional practical information.

Qualified persons based in Romania are particularly encouraged to participate in the International Conference and should apply onlinr through this link so their participation may be considered by the Local Organizing Committee.

Working Language

The working language of the International Conference will be English. All participants are required to have good English language skills.

Posters, scientific papers and displays

Participants seeking funding are required to contribute a scientific paper, poster, presentation and/or display related to the conference themes. It is necessary for applicants to submit an abstract of a maximum of 500 words including the following details about their proposed contribution: Title, Short Description, Author Name(s), Affiliation(s), and e-mail address for the presenter.

Presentations will be published on the website of the Office for Outer Space Affairs.

Sponsorship

The Office for Outer Space Affairs of the United Nations and the Romanian Space Agency are responsible for organizing and sponsoring the International Conference.

Sponsorship of the Conference is still open to interested entities. If interested, please reach out to the contact points listed below.

Expected Participants

The International Conference is being planned for scientists, engineers, university educators, policy-and-decision makers, and senior experts from the following groups: international, regional, national and local institutions, United Nations agencies, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, research and development institutions, and industry. Others who are interested may also apply and all applications will be considered by the organizers.

Qualified individuals based in Romania are particularly encouraged to participate in the conference and should contact the Romanian focal points so their participation may be considered by the Local Organizing Committee. The focal points for Romania will be announced.

Participation requirements

Participants should have decision-making responsibilities within governmental agencies, national or regional institutions, intergovernmental or non-governmental organizations or industry. Applications from equally qualified women are particularly encouraged.

Financial support

Within the financial resources available, a limited number of selected participants will be offered financial support to attend the International Conference. This financial support will defray the cost of travel (a round trip air ticket - most economic fare - between the airport of international departure in their home country and Cluj, Romania) and/or room and board expenses for the duration of the conference. The co-sponsors of the conference will jointly select participants on a competitive basis.

The online application form includes a section on financial support .

Application Deadlines

Applicants based outside Romania should apply to participate online. The completed application form should be submitted via the online registration system to the Office for Outer Space Affairs, no later than 24 March 2019 for participants seeking funding and 31 March 2019 for self-funded participants. Only complete applications with all the requested information will be considered.

Life and Health Insurance

Life/major health insurance for each of the selected participants is necessary and is the responsibility of the candidate or his/her institution or Government. The co-sponsors will not assume any responsibility for life and major health insurance, nor for expenses related to medical treatment or accidents. Please pay attention to the online application form when registering for the Conference.

Contact Information

For additional information on the International Conference programme, please contact: Mr Shirish Ravan or Ms Irianna Vlachopoulou, United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs.

The focal points for Romania are Mr Horea Cacovean (Cluj) and Mr Alexandru Badea (Romanian Space Agency).

Copyright ©2019 UNOOSA, All Rights Reserved