Robots to verify farmers’ crop photos to claim EU support

Malta will deploy Artificial Intelligence to identify crops and trees from geo-tagged photos, uploaded by farmers through BiedjaCam, a government app

File photo
File photo

Malta will deploy Artificial Intelligence to identify crops and trees from geo-tagged photos, uploaded by farmers through BiedjaCam, a government app.

BiedjaCam is a mobile phone app that allows farmers to view their land parcels, and where necessary take geotagged photos to be uploaded in the governmental Land Parcel Identification System (LPIS), to be able to claim EU agricultural support.

The app allows farmers to ensure coordination between maps and the photos of their agricultural parcels, to ensure conformity with rules for Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) funds.

Under its plans for an AI model of the project, Malta’s paying agency ARPA will automate the verification of some 15,000 geotagged photos of agricultural products and land class, uploaded by farmers on BiedjaCam.

The process right now is manually verified, and such a substantial number of photos requires automatic screening.

The AI model will have to output the crop type found in the photo, the coverage it covers in the land, and then be retrained based on the new crops which might qualify for EU support measures in later years.

Famers are currently able to browse information about their agricultural holding, check for payments related to EU support, set up a crop plan and submit geo-tagged photos related to the crops being planted.

The photos provide evidence of cultivation in case of damages incurred by a storm, as well as evidence of crops to satisfy eligibility conditions for certain CAP aid-schemes.

CAP requires these kinds of area monitoring systems to be deployed by EU member states for aid applications, to observe, track, and assess agricultural activities and practices, starting from the 2023 reporting year.

Like the rest of the EU, Malta must ensure that its agricultural land can be monitored either with Copernicus Sentinels satellites, or at least with geo-tagged photos like BiedjaCam, as part of the integrated administration and control system (IACS). In this case, BiedjaCam is used to resolve CAP payment claim queries, enabling farmers to send digital photos of their land parcels directly to Malta’s paying agency, ARPA, reducing the need for inspections, and accelerate claim processing.

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