Digital technologies and sustainable agriculture: meeting users' and societal needs


Brunori Gianluca Brunori

Gianluca Brunori

University of Pisa, Italy

Bacco Manlio Bacco

Manlio Bacco


Fountas Spyros Fountas

Spyros Fountas

University of Athens, Greece

Ulman Milos Ulman

Milos Ulman

Czech University of Life Sciences Prague, Czech Republic

Ferrari Alessio Ferrari

Alessio Ferrari


Marinello Francesco Marinello

Francesco Marinello

University of Padova, Italy

Molina Jorge Antonio Sánchez Molina

Jorge Antonio Sánchez Molina

University of Almería, Spain

Toli Eleni Toli

Eleni Toli

University of Athens, Greece


Digital technologies have an increasingly important role in agrifood systems. They are considered game changers for their potential to disrupt systems and drive innovative developments. Such disruption brings both upsides and downsides, in the form of actors benefitting from it (winners) and losing because of it (losers), and policy, social, economic, and environmental-related drivers and barriers can change the magnitude of their adoption in real contexts.

Improving the capacity to analyse the users' needs and anticipate the impact of a technology, once adopted in specific contexts, is key to improving performance, market success, and impact on society. This session focuses on how to embody a Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) approach into technology design, system requirements definition, and innovation policies. The basic assumption is that the participation of a wide range of stakeholders (e.g., in the form of Living Labs) in the design, development and use of digital technologies in agricultural settings will increase the uptake of these technologies and will contribute to the 'twin (ecological and digital) transition'. The goal is thus to provide a forum for discussions on both disrupting agricultural technologies and their applications, and their impacts in different contexts.


Contributions are expected to deal with, but are not limited to, the following topics:

  • co-creation and co-design of digital systems for agriculture tailored to the context
  • requirements engineering techniques tailored to agrifood systems
  • developments to improve social, economic, and environmental impacts of agriculture thanks to digital technologies
  • data, platforms, and tools for sustainable agriculture for farmers, advisors, and other stakeholders
  • technological pathways for the agroecological transition


Gianluca Brunori is Full Professor of Food Policy and a researcher with 30+ years of experience in research projects at EU level. Coordinator of the H2020 project DESIRA, on the socio-economic impact of digitalisation, and of the HEurope CODECS, on the costs and benefits of digital technologies in agriculture.

Manlio Bacco received a PhD degree in information engineering and science from the University of Siena, Italy, in 2016. He works as a Researcher at the Institute of Science and Information Technologies (ISTI), National Research Council (CNR), Pisa, Italy, since 2012. His research interests include wireless communications, aerospace and IoT scenarios, cyber-physical systems, and in the last years the development of methodologies and technologies for the use of digital technologies in agriculture, forestry, and rural areas.

Dr. Spyros Fountas is Professor in Agricultural Engineering at Agricultural University of Athens and Editor-in-Chief in the ELSEVIER journal Smart Agricultural Technology. He holds an MSc from Cranfield University, at Silsoe College UK in Information Technology in 1998, and PhD from Copenhagen University, Denmark in Systems Analysis on Precision Agriculture in 2004. He was also Visiting Scholar at Purdue University, USA. He has been Keynote speaker in several conferences among others in the FIRA Conference on Agricultural Robotics in France 2021; International Horticultural Congress in Turkey in 2018, 17th European Weed Research Society (EWRS), in France in June 2015; European Conference on Precision Agriculture (ECPA) in Spain in 2013. He has coordinated 3 H2020 projects, Smart-AKIS, GATES and currently OPTIMA on optimised Integrated Pest Management for precise detection and control of plant diseases. He is also participating in 15 other H2020 funded projects. He has more than 250 papers, including book chapters, journal papers and conference papers and 6400 citations (Google scholar, November 2022).

Milos Ulman is an assistant professor at the Department of Information Technologies, Faculty of Economics and Management, CZU Prague. He focuses in his research on e-governance, information security, information ethics, and big data. His work has been presented at numerous international conferences and published in the Journal of Computer Information Systems, Thunderbird International Business Review, Agris On-Line Papers in Economics and Informatics, and others. Dr. Ulman currently serves as an associate editor in the Emerald Publishing journal The Bottom Line. He is involved in two EU-funded research projects. The CODECS project addresses agricultural digitalization. The GRANULAR project aims to provide novel data and indicators for better rural policymaking.

Alessio Ferrari is Research Scientist at Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche Istituto di Scienza e Tecnologie dell'Informazione "A. Faedo" (CNR-ISTI), Italy. He received a Ph. D. in computer engineering from the University of Florence in 2011. He has about 15 years of research experience, and 3 years of industrial experience at General Electric Transportation Systems, a world leading railway signalling company. His main research research interests are: (a) requirements elicitation and communication between different stakeholders (b) application of NLP technologies to RE, with a focus on detection of ambiguity and communication defects in requirements documents and requirements elicitation interviews; (c) software process improvement for safety-critical systems, with a focus on formal/semi-formal model-based development and code generation in the railway domain. He is co-author of more than 80 publications in international conferences and journals. In 2015 and 2018, he received the Best Paper Award at the IEEE RE conference. He co-organised the NLP4RE and AIRE workshops in multiple editions, and regularly serves on the program committee of international conferences such as ICSE, RE, and REFSQ. He was the organiser of REFSQ 2020 PC co-chair of REFSQ 2023. He participated to several H2020 EU projects, such as ASTRail, 4SecuRail, DESIRA and CODECS.

Francesco Marinello is an Associate Professor at the University of Padova (Italy) and Adjunct Professor at the University of Georgia (Athens, USA). After his PhD in precision engineering and metrology jointly supervised by the Technical University of Denmark (Lingby, Denmark), he spent two years at the InterUniversity Center for Nanotechnologies (Venice, Italy) and two years at the University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Southern Switzerland (Lugano, Switzerland). Since 2012 he is researcher at the University of Padova: he is responsible for the courses in “Agricultural Mechanics”, “Precision Farming”, “Applied Statistics”, “Sustainable resource-efficient food production and processing” and “Unmanned Aerial Vehicles for Agriculture”. Marinello is author of more than 200 papers (170 indexed by Scopus, H-index: 30) and 4 patents. Marinello has been recently appointed Editor in Chief of the journal “Computers and Electronics in Agriculture” and Agriculture (Digital Agriculture section) and Associate Editor of “Plant Methods”. He is or has been the principal investigator or research partner in several national and international research projects.

Jorge Antonio Sánchez Molina is an Associate Professor of Systems Engineering and Automatic Control at UAL, working with the Group of Automatic Control, Robotics and Mechatronics since 2005. Currently, he is head of the European and International Projects Office (OPEI) at UAL. He obtained the titles of Agricultural Engineering, Master's Degree in Industrial Computer Science, Master's Degree in Industrial and Agri-food Biotechnology and Ph.D. degree in Computer Science (Extraordinary Doctorate Award). His work focuses on the climate, crop growth and irrigation modelling and control in greenhouses, IoT and Big Data applications in agriculture and renewable energies, mobile and grasping robotics, that have enabled him to be author of more than 100 publications in journals, book chapters and congresses, and one patent. He has participated in 18 European projects (one as leader), 16 National projects (three as leader), and 22 R&D contracts with companies, 12 of them as leader, and seven international stays, including USA, Republic of Ireland, Germany, England, China, and Mexico. He is enrolled in the Focus Group of Digitalization and Big Data in the agri-food, forestry and rural areas of the Spanish Minister of Agriculture.

Eleni Toli is a research associate and Senior Project Manager at the Athena RC and at the Department of Informatics and Telecommunications at the University of Athens. She has been involved in the scientific and technical coordination of several EU-funded projects related to Open Science and Open Data, Research Data Infrastructures, Data Repositories and Digital Social Innovation. She holds an MSc degree in Quality Assurance, Information and Technology Management from the University of Bochum and a BS degree from the University of Ioannina.