Italian tomatoes are going smart: xFarm and Tomato Farm are digitalizing the tomato supply chain

Sep 15, 2022 | Digital farming, Tomatoes

Tomato Farm is the first company in Italy to have introduced smart farming tools in the tomato supply chain, with the support of xFarm. The company’s goals are to increase quality, sustainability and traceability.

Tomato Farm and the collaboration with xFarm

Tomato Farm S.p.a. is a leading Italian company in tomato processing. The company collaborates with more than 200 contributing farmers for an extension of about 2,000 ha and offers a range of semi-finished products derived from fresh tomatoes harvested near the processing plant in Pozzolo Formigaro (AL). The products include tomato pulp, diced and pureed tomatoes and concentrated tomato sauce. On average, 1,500 tons of tomatoes are processed every day. Tomato Farm technicians, in agreement with producer organizations and the farmers themselves, are responsible for following the entire production chain, from the greenhouse to marketing, including cultivation, harvesting, delivery and packaging.

The collaboration with xFarm originates from Tomato Farm‘s desire to fully exploit the potential of digital technologies applied to agriculture to support tomato growers, increase the efficiency of the supply chain and improve performance in terms of sustainability. By means of the xFarm Analytics platform, managers can view the data relating to the registered farms – contributions, operations carried out, irrigation and defense interventions – in real time and within a single app. In this way, the control of compliance with regulations and the management of the production cycle are simpler and more efficient.

The project, which now involves 30 contracting companies for an extension of 800 hectares, aims to digitalize the entire supply chain to increase the quality of production, sustainability, and to implement an innovative solution for data verification and traceability.

The agronomic management of tomatoes production with xFarm

Thanks to the farm management platform provided by xFarm, tomato growers can digitalize their business using various features. For example, “Fields” for the management of plots, “Operation management” for scheduling and recording operations, “Storage” for inventory and storage management.

In addition to the basic xFarm platform, there are some advanced functions. The advanced functions include modules designed to support farmers in agronomic decisions. The xFarm IoT sensors, once installed in the fields, will allow the collection of local environmental data. Based on these data, tomato growers will then be able to make use of the decision support systems integrated into the platform, for a better agronomic management.

The Defense module, based on leaf wetness data recorded by the xLeaf sensor, allows to closely follow and predict the evolution of plant diseases in the field and to send alerts and management advice for the main tomato adversities such as downy mildew, powdery mildew and bacteriosis. The xFarm automatic traps for insects monitoring (xTrap), allows to constantly monitor the presence of the tomato moth (Tuta absoluta), viewing the catches in real time. Based on the catches, the app suggests the best time to intervene, maximizing the effectiveness of pest control operations.

In addition to decision support systems and forecasting models for crop protection, xFarm also provides irrigation models. Combining data recorded by the xNode soil moisture sensors with rainfall data, the app provides useful tips and strategies to increase the efficiency of irrigation interventions, in such a way that will allow tomato growers to irrigate where needed, when needed, and in the right amount. The platform also calculates the water footprint of the final product.

A more efficient management of crop protection and irrigation results in savings in production costs, increase in product quality and sustainability.

Sustainability and traceability: an added value for the consumer

With regards to GHG emissions, xFarm makes it possible to make a further effort in the commitment to improve the performance of the farms involved in the supply chain. Through the Sustainability module it is possible to view and analyze the performance of the individual farms in terms of emissions and identify the sources of GHG emissions for each crop. In this way, the best practices adopted by virtuous companies can be studied and promoted.

The calculation of the carbon footprint per kg of product (or per hectare cultivated) is carried out on the basis of data recorded by the sensors in the field or entered by the farmers themselves within the platform. In this way, primary data allow to provide an estimate environmental impact of each individual company that is as realistic as possible of the actual environmental impact.

For the 30 farms already involved in the project, the results in terms of sustainability will be certified by the certifying body Rina, with the objective of reducing the use of agronomic inputs and improving the sustainability of the supply chain year by year.

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