e-shape to support sustainable agriculture in Europe

By Sven Gilliams 08 June 2020

Just past the first anniversary of the e-shape project, you should by now all know our slogan; We e-shape EuroGeo!! But what does it mean? What is e-shape? What is EuroGEO and what does it mean for the agricultural services in Europe?

As lead of the Food Security and Sustainble Agriculture showcase of e-shape I'm happy to give you a short recap of what has happened in our first year and explain more about the agricultural services we are developing to monitor and improve sustainable agriculture in Europe.

EuroGEO, the European regional group on Earth observation

EuroGEO is part of the Group on Earth Observations (GEO),  a worldwide network of more than 100 national governments, over 100 participating organisations and the European Commission, established to build a Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS). GEOSS is a global system which uses earth observation data to improve the lives of citizens and help governments make evidence-based decisions.

The Group on Earth Observation is a partnership of multiple regional GEO initiatives of which EuroGEO is the regional GEO of Europe representing the European Caucus. EuroGEO is launched in October 2017 and builds on several EO programmes including of course the Copernicus programme, European Union’s Flagship programma for Earth observation.  Europe has a lot expertise in Earth observation data, technology and services so one of its goals is to position and put forward this excellent know-how and experience in operational services to support our well-being for generations still to come.


e-shape! With and for users to maximize EO-enabled benefits

The e-shape project was launched in May 2019 in response to a call for proposals within the H2020 framework with an ultimate objective to help shape the European Regional Initiative of GEO. Now e-shape is implementing and coordinating a comprehensive portfolio of 27 cloud-based pilot applications under 7 thematic areas, addressing societal challenges,in line with the three main priorities of GEO i.e. SDGs, Paris Agreement and Sendaï Framework. The common thread of these 27 e-shape pilots is that they all have a user-driven approach. In other words ‘No users, No pilot’!


showcase on Food Security and sustainable agriculture

With more than 20 years of experience and a team of remote sensing experts in agricultural monitoring, we’re happy to lead e-shape’s Food Security and Sustainable Agriculture showcase and contribute to 3 of the 4 pilots. These pilots were selected as such that they address different aspect of global food security and sustainable agriculture.

  • The global level, GEOGLAM
    In this pilot we support the GEOGLAM needs for within and across season quantitative measures to monitor crop condition at global scales. This pilot is lead by our team of expert in global agricultural monitoring.

  • The policy level, EU-CAP support
    Led by NOA, here we target the improvement and development of services to support farmers within the policy framework of EU-CAPS

  • Food Security, Vegetation-Index Crop-Insurance in Ethiopia
    The University of Twente is setting up a service for farmers in Ethiopia to provide them with an accurate and affordable insurance to protect their crops. This pilot is targeted towards food security.

  • Agro industry
    Here we provide services at a more local scale, improving services in support of agro-industry companies to increase their productivity in a sustainable manner, taking into account climate change.

All these pilot services are combining Copernicus EO data with the necessary in-situ data, weather and soil data to offer improved information at global, national and local scale, exploiting the processing infrastructures offered by EU Copernicus DIAS.

services to support our EU agricultural monitoring efforts

One of the most interesting aspects of these e-shape pilots is that they all build on already existing projects, programmes and/or services. Let’s not reinvent the wheel, but continue to push forward, rely on previous research and combine knowledge. By doing this we can achieve more and offer services to push the sustainability of European Agricultural to a next level.

In the first year we focused on the co-design of the e-shape services. To be able to develop a good service it’s crucial have an overview of the questions your end-users have to understand the issues you need to tackle. Based on this analysis we are now in the progress of updating the services. Once these updates are done, service demonstration will be set up together with these end users.  
The agricultural growing season of 2020 will be used for testing and developing service improvements. Demonstration of the new services for the end users will start during the next European cropping season. More details on the outcome of the co-design process, the test results and the demonstration will be provided in the next blogs at the start of next growing season.

Are you the next e-shape partner?

In the meanwhile the project is already expanding and looking for extra pilots and services to be implemented on Europe’s cloud environment.  As such the e-shape on boarding process has started. Experiences of the existing services are shared with the wider community and request for new services are being send out within the existing thematic areas of e-shape but also outside of the current themes.
Are you interested to join the e-shape consortium and bring Copernicus and GEO closer together for the benefit of our end users? Click here to discover more about the e-shape on boarding process or contact the e-shape Help Desk for any questions or concerns. 

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Sven Gilliams
An article by
Sven Gilliams
R&D Project Manager
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