ATHENS — Every year, in early fall, before the beans ripen and their pods turn a pale yellow, growers in Prespes begin harvesting them. The bean-growing season was quite different there this year, not only because the weather delayed completion of the harvest until November, but even more because of innovations in the growing process.
This year, organic bean growers in Prespes had at their disposal technology that enabled them to monitor conditions in their field, such as soil and air temperature, via smartphone and to adapt to the real-time needs of their crops. They also had the help of qualified professionals from the American Farm School in Thessaloniki, who advised them on best practices in crop management and offered training in the use of the latest technologies.
Among the six organic bean farmers in the area of the Prespes Lakes who participated in the training program were Lazaros and Nikos, who shared how the program helped their work.
“I no longer have to guess what’s going on in my field. Now I know for sure. And I can easily access all this valuable data via my smartphone,” said Lazaros Nikolaou. Nikos Papadopoulos added, “I feel lucky, because I am able to work alongside expert scientists, and I see the difference in the quality and quantity of my beans. When experience is combined with science, there are always good results.”
The precision agriculture pilot program will continue during the next growing season, which begins in April 2021, and conclude at the end of that year. It is part of POLIPRESPA, a sustainable development program emphasizing environment, community, and the economy implemented by local organizations in Prespes with a grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF).
Of course the real proof will be in the pudding—or in this case the organic Prespes bean soup, perfect for winter weather.