In developed countries, it is getting more and more important to maintain good conditions for the environment. Rural activities of reduced inputs meet both ecological and social requirements: to keep the environmental biodiversity for the future and to improve economy. In addition to economic pressure, there are likely to be greater constraints on land use and farming practice in order to meet environmental criteria. These constraints are emerging in the form of policy initiatives such as the EU Nitrification Directive and the Water Framework Directive. The two countries will provide the opportunity to farmers through the supply of information technology with new tools and approaches to characterize the nature and extent of variation in the fields, enabling them to develop the most appropriate management strategy for a specific location, increasing the efficiency of input application and minimize costs. The Region of Central Macedonia as the competent authority for ensuring that EU Directives are met and willing to introduce cost-effective solutions for managing both crop production and environmental issues together with the scientific expertize that is provided by the Laboratory of Remote Sensing and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and the Interbalkan Environment Center (i-BEC) aim to establish modern technology and new information tools in farming areas of both countries. The Balkan Environment Center was invited to join the partnership as a Scientific/Technical Expert and provide guidance in the implementation of information technology on environmental monitoring issues and to supply the necessary tools for decision making. The Decentralized Administration of Macedonia & Thrace and the Region of East Macedonia & Thrace that are in continuous contact with the rural population of the Greek area will supervise and assist in the implementation of the operations while the Bulgarian partners will introduce this new technology for the first time in the Bulgarian rural population.

Increasing agricultural productivity has been a long time policy objective in almost all countries around the world. The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) in fact motivated for several decades farmers to intensify agricultural production in order to attain objectives such as (a) the stabilization of food and agricultural markets; (b) security of food supply and (c) the maintenance of an adequate income level for normally productive enterprises. Farming moved away from the traditional self-sustaining cycle towards an industrial model in which the quantity of chemical (fertilizer and pesticide) inputs is continuously raising in order to increase agricultural product. As a result it become apparent that a series of environmental problems have arisen in relation to agriculture; many of the applied chemicals find their way into water courses resulting to eutrophication and the elimination of sensitive aquatic species and reach into groundwater contaminating also human water supply systems.

This proposal aims to introduce to Greek and Bulgarian farmers with the concept of site-specific crop management which through an information and new technology farm management system will be able to identify, analyze and manage variability within fields for optimum profitability, sustainability and protection of land resources. The economical and environmental benefits of reduced input farming for these areas can be visualized through reduced use of water, fertilizers and pesticides. As modern technology will be used and implemented, education and training of the rural population together with consultants is consider a necessary and important step while a certified path of production that is offered through the implementation of this project gives the opportunity of a better quality product able to compete with the high standards of international markets.

Future challenges regarding agricultural practices in the area will be addressed by the gained experience and knowledge that will be provided to the authorities, the rural population and the public the completion of the proposed project and moreover the scientific information and exercise in the new technology tools will provide useful guidelines and recommendations for future development of reduced input agriculture in both countries.