Agriculture is a leader in digitization. Agriculture 4.0 and SmartFarming are the headlines modernr data-based concepts.
In Germany, the terms agriculture 4.0. and smart farming as a synonym for farms that use the use of modern information and communication technologies to automate the farm. According to a representative survey by Bitkom eV, on behalf of the German Farmers' Association (DBV), every second farm (53%) is already using digital solutions. Milking robots, field robots, agricultural assistance systems and drones are used.
More and more work processes can be monitored and controlled using smartphones or tablets. Big data enables all data collected, analyzes to be drawn in real time and processes along the entire value chain to be optimized. The physical workload for farmers would also be significantly reduced.
A huge step forward for agricultural practice, environmental protection and animal welfare
Nine out of ten respondents to the study say that digitization increases resource efficiency and promotes environmental protection. For example, sensors, fertilizers and plant treatment products are applied with pinpoint accuracy and reduced to a minimum. Intelligent irrigation systems can be used for precise and therefore economical irrigation. Standardized automatic feeders can adapt the feeding to the animal species in an age-optimized and performance-optimized manner and identify sick animals that do not eat enough more quickly. Around 75% of those surveyed believe that digital technologies can help them cut costs in the long term and increase crop yields. In fact, more than two thirds (67%) say that smart farming also improves the quality of agricultural products.
Smart farming as an opportunity to face international challenges
European farmers are currently facing enormous challenges: high price pressure, international competition, global economic regulations, as well as increasing demands on the quality of food and environmental protection, as sustainable living is becoming increasingly important. Digital technologies should help to implement efficient management. An important prerequisite for this, however, is ensuring a future-proof infrastructure, also in rural areas. To do this, the broadband expansion must take place quickly and in the area from the perspective of the farmers' association. In addition, data protection had to be safeguarded and the effort required for proof and documentation had to be reduced. Politics are required here. For the future networking of machines and systems, as with Industry 4.0 and the autonomous, the optimal use of the key technology 5G is important.
The glass farm of tomorrow
In the future, the use of autonomous field robots and drones will be seen as very widespread, as will driverless tractors or combine harvesters. The majority of agricultural experts also think that digitization will bring consumers closer to the farm: Interactive product information and recommendations, as well as consumer feedback to the producers, many consider realistic in 2030. 86% of those surveyed also believe that consumers will be able to trace their product digitally in the future.
“Farmers already have to document their work extensively. Digitization helps to meet the increasing demands for transparency. High-tech makes it possible to work even more sustainably, because it increases animal welfare and the fields are managed in a more plant-friendly and environmentally friendly manner, ”said Bitkom general manager Dr. Bernhard Rohleder. Farming life is inevitably modernized, but preserving nature, biodiversity and resources helps to preserve the idyll of rural life in the long term.