IRTA is a research institute of the Government of Catalonia, attached to the Department of Climate Action, Food and Rural Agenda, regulated by Law 04/2009 of 15 April, of the Parliament of Catalonia, which regulates its activity in the private legal system. It is part of the CERCA system of centres in Catalonia. The purpose of IRTA is to contribute to the modernisation, improvement and promotion of competitiveness; the sustainable development of the agricultural, food, agroforestry, aquaculture and fisheries sectors, as well as those directly or indirectly related to the provision of healthy and quality food to end consumers; to food security and food processing, and, in general, to improving the well-being and health of the population.
Its general objectives are to promote research and technological development in the agri-food field, facilitate the transfer of scientific advances and assess its own technological advances while seeking maximum coordination and collaboration with the public and private sectors. Since its creation, IRTA has promoted the establishment of permanent collaboration agreements with other public institutions operating in the field of research and technological development in Catalonia. This policy has resulted today in Catalonia, in a network of consortium centres (among the IRTA, Universities, CSIC, Provincial Councils, etc.) which can be defined as that of a cooperative system.of R&D.
The IRTA is currently fully involved in the digital transformation of the agricultural sector in Catalonia. The digitalisation of agriculture must in the very near future allow the modernisation and improvement of the management of agricultural holdings, in order to make them more competitive on a global scale.
From this point of view, the IRTA is committed to this transformation through the use of Earth observation platforms and the use of new communications infrastructures already deployed in the region.
Currently, using the 5G network in two areas of Catalonia, several projects are being carried out on the Internet of Things (IoT) applied to the improvement of irrigation management, the monitoring of livestock in areas of ‘remote access, in the traceability of fruit, in the management of pests and diseases, and the mechanical control of weeds.
Moreover, the IRTA has also made a very important commitment to the use of Earth observation platforms focused on improving agricultural management in areas such as the efficient use of water in irrigation, the selection of more productive varieties, and precision fertilisation by means of drone and satellite images, with spatial resolutions that range from centimetres to kilometres. This has been achieved with the integration of optical, thermal and microwave sensor information from both the ESA and NASA. In addition, it is also committed to the design of new agricultural-oriented missions within the New Space with the use of spectrometers that allow the analysis of the best bands for the detection of stress and plant vigour.