Digital and precision agriculture
Intro to the issue
The internet is playing a key role in the transformation of industries. Food and food production are no exception. Perhaps the easiest way to understand precision and digital agriculture is to think of it as everything that makes the practice of farming more accurate and controlled when it comes to the growing of crops or raising livestock.
This includes using digital tools such as GPS guidance, control systems, sensors, robotics etc. An area that is of particular interest to us are for instance images from satellites and drones which provide vital information on the health of plants in the field. For example, healthy plants which have higher biomass content could be shown in a green colour, while plants impacted by pests or diseases can be shown in yellow or red alerting the farmer that action has to be taken. In addition to satellite and drone imagery, sensors on state-of-the-art tractors, harvesters and other connected devices provide information on the soil type and condition, as well as water and nutrient availability.
Why this is a priority for us?
Just as consumers have become accustomed to digital tools assisting them in their tasks with smartwatches measuring their heart rate or Google Assistant becoming their virtual helper – farmers too are increasingly relying on software that can analyse data and transform them into meaningful insights. These tools can be particularly helpful when deciding on whether to use crop protection products and when to use them. Digital tools can allow them to apply pesticides at the right time, the right place and with the right amount.
What makes digital tools especially attractive to farmers is their versatility. Because no two farms are alike, a “one-size-fits-all” approach cannot possibly address the many variables that exist across fields, or even within a field.
What are we doing about it
We are already seeing how precision and digital technologies are decreasing agriculture’s climate footprint.
A recent Scientific Foresight Study published by the European Parliament underlines that thanks to precision agriculture techniques applied in Integrated Pest Management we can see a reduction in pesticide use of up to 20-30% and a reduction of sprayed area between 50-80%. Another good tool for disease detection is a multisensor optical system where volatile sensors can lead to a reduction of pesticide use with correct (early?) detection and a good decision model (84.5% savings in pesticides possible).
To further the European Commission’s ambition of a digital and green recovery, we want to play our part in advancing the deployment of digital tools.
As part of #2030Commitments we are investing 10 billion euros into innovation in precision and digital technologies.
To learn more about the 2030 commitments on investment, circular economy, protecting people and environment follow the link https://www.croplifeeurope.eu/commitments/
To learn more about the joint EU Code of Conduct promoting the benefits of sharing data and enabling agri-business models, including agri-cooperatives and other agri-businesses, to swiftly move into an era of digitally enhanced farming – follow the link