A PYMNTS Company

Austria To Use Satellite Tech To Regulate Farming State Subsidies

 |  February 13, 2023

Austria has decided to mobilise satellite technology to check in detail whether farms are meeting the conditions for receiving billions in EU agriculture subsidies, a task which is often very complex and costly for national authorities.

Farms and space may have little in common at first sight. But in reality, satellite technologies can be applied in a variety of ways, including in agriculture, Gregor Schusterschitz, the Austrian Ambassador to the EU, said during a recent conference in Brussels.

Speaking to representatives of other EU countries, Schusterschitz presented his country’s plans to implement such a project in the recently launched funding period of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

By using image data collected by satellites, the project would make monitoring the many area-based support measures within the CAP easier, explained Bernhard Eder of AgrarMarkt Austria, a corporation that partly handles the administration of funding programmes on behalf of the ministry.

A total of €1.5 billion is “allocated to area-based measures in Austria in this funding period – a bulk of the money”, he said.

For example, direct payments, which make up a large part of CAP funds, are allocated per hectare of cultivated land. This means that if a piece of land is used for storage space for machinery, it cannot be claimed, but it can if, for example, cereals are grown on it.

Many environmental measures within the CAP are also linked to specific areas, for example, the planting of flowering strips or the preservation of permanent grassland.

To check whether a farm actually meets the conditions for receiving subsidies, the responsible authorities must therefore know exactly how each individual farm uses its land, down to the individual parcel of land.

As this is very time-consuming for the authorities, using a new, more automated system should help.

“The application has the potential to reduce on-site inspections,” explained Eder, adding that the programme automatically decides whether the criteria for receiving the funds are met.

This is possible using satellite data from the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Sentinel missions, a group of satellites that provide various image data of the Earth’s surface.