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 are used as a synonym for farms that use modern information and communication technologies to automate their farms. According to a representative survey by Bitkom eV, on behalf of the German Farmers' Association (DBV), every second agricultural operation (53%) already uses digital solutions. Milking robots, field robots, agricultural assistance systems and drones are used here.
More and more work processes can be monitored and controlled with the help of smartphones or tablets. With big data, analyzes can be obtained in real time from all the collected data and processes can be optimized along the entire value chain. 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, with the help of sensors, fertilizers and plant treatment agents are precisely applied and reduced to a minimum. Intelligent irrigation systems enable precise and therefore economical irrigation. Standardized automatic feeders can adapt the feeding individually to the animal species in an age and performance-optimized manner and identify sick animals that are not eating enough more quickly. Around 75% of those surveyed believe that digital technologies will enable them to reduce their costs in the long term and increase crop yields. More than two thirds (67%) even say that smart farming also improves the quality of agricultural products.
Smart farming as an opportunity to meet 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, since a sustainable life is becoming more and more important. Digital technologies should help to implement efficient management. An important prerequisite for this, however, is the guarantee of a sustainable infrastructure, also in rural areas. For this purpose, broadband expansion must take place quickly and across the board from the perspective of the farmers' association. In addition, data protection must be safeguarded and the effort required to provide evidence and documentation must be reduced. Politicians are called upon here. For the future networking of machines and systems, similar to Industry 4.0 and the autonomous, the optimal use of the key technology 5G is important.
Tomorrow's glass farm
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 the consumer closer to the farm: Interactive product information and recommendations, as well as consumer feedback to the producer, are believed by many to be realistic in 2030. 86% of those surveyed also believe that consumers will be able to track their product digitally in the future.
“Farmers already have to extensively document their work today. 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 cultivated in a more plant-friendly and environmentally friendly way, ”says Bitkom CEO Dr. Bernhard Rohleder. Rural life will inevitably be modernized, but the preservation of nature, biodiversity and resources helps to preserve the idyll of rural life in the long term.