The year 2015 represents the start of a new cycle for the Portuguese economy, after an adjustment period that ran from 2011 to 2014, which required external assistance and a rigid financial policy. The economic deceleration of previous years is still felt in important sectors of the economy – construction and transport – and continues to influence the country’s performance in terms of resource efficiency and climate change. Still, there are some positive signs: improvements in foreign energy dependence and environmental certifications, for instance, as well as emerging eco-innovative sectors which came to fruition – in water efficiency and agriculture, for example. A combination of effects – e.g. a decrease in resource consumption and an improvement in “green” R&D spending, both public and private – has placed the country’s performance in the Eco-innovation Scoreboard slightly above EU average for the 2014-2015 period.

However, the results shown by EIO indicators do not translate into a solid policy framework for eco-innovation, and therefore there is still much to accomplish. Despite significant advances in resource efficiency policies – e.g. Green Growth Commitment, Green Fiscal Reform and PERSU 2020 – eco-innovation is still very much approached as a means to achieve improvements in environmental performance, and not as a means to achieve sustainable growth by all stakeholders in the economy.

Initiatives such as the Ecopol project, or the Ecoprodutin project were fundamental to kick start the necessary network and interaction among different stakeholders to identify the eco-innovation champions, initiatives, products and services, and to demonstrate the benefits for business and the society .

2015 Eco-innovation Scoreboard ranking and eco-innovation index composites for Portugal





HP1 Irristrat is a decision support and irrigation scheduling tool that assists irrigation managers in deciding the best timing and application for irrigation. It uses a multi-phase approach to give growers precise Real Time irrigation scheduling based on:

• Crop evapotranspiration

• Soil moisture

• Real time information from Weather Stations and Sensors

• Irrigation strategy

• Taking into account on-going crop water needs 

The client sets up its own project with Irrigation Units with the on-line help of expert agronomists. Each Irrigation Unit takes into account:

• Soil parameters (soil type, layers, surface runoff and slopes),

• Crop specific data (Growth and sensitivity stages, rooting depths, water extraction pattern and salt tolerance),

• Irrigation systems (Characteristics, water quality and availability)

• Available input devices (Weather stations, Sensors and Weather forecasts)

To have the system up and running the Client enters the base data for his project. A library with soils, crops and irrigation systems data is available so the user can easily setup his own configuration. The user sets up the Irrigation Units belonging to a Project and associates the active equipments in use for each of them. After, the user models the specific crop data and phenological phases and decides on a specific irrigation strategy according to the goals.

Once the components are defined and the strategy is in place, the system generates a Reference Irrigation Plan. As soon as the first data is available an Adjusted Irrigation Plan is generated that is be used to produce daily the Water Balance report and the Irrigation Scheduling recommendations.

As the crop season moves forward, the monitoring is done by the Client/Consultant and the remote irrigation support part of the Irristrat service. Updates to the previously modeled data can be done in real time and the system adjusts accordingly.

The tool provides access to a comprehensive set of reports and graphics that helps the client getting the most out of the system. Data is continuously monitored by a team of irrigation experts which handle exceptions and give advice to the clients according to their subscription plan. 

Barriers and drivers

The company established near a University with good courses linked to agriculture and informatics allowing a shared development. Networking has been very positive not only with the University but also with farmer associations.

The main barriers to expansion of the business include the finantial difficulties of the country that have reflected in the difficulty of getting investment from banking; a resistance of farmers to adopt new technologies, either by mentality or by low qualification and associated difficulty using IT devices (e.g. computers and web); unfair competition from state financed organizations that practice artificially low prices to support farmers managing irrigation.   

Economic performance

The product is targeted to two very important sectors in Portugal, agriculture and tourism (golf courses) aiming to contribute to decrease costs associated to the activities. The company has been developing gradually exclusively based on self-financing.

Social performance

Placed in a region that has been subject to large investments in agriculture sector the products of the company may contribute to decrease costs and enhance productivity, fostering the employment.

Environmental impact

Monitoring nutrients and water to define the optimal irrigation solution taking into account the conditions of the site may represent significant environmental savings (through optimization of water supply, energy used by the equipments and need for fertilizers).  

Further information


Picture source: http://www.hidrosoph.com/

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Eco Innovation in Practice in Portugal

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