We need to bring digital innovation to the primary sector to combat the global challenges of the coming decades
Agriculture is one of the oldest activities of man and for centuries it has not underwent important transformations. Around 1750 there was the first agricultural revolution, in which crop rotations and new methods of working the soil were introduced. A second fundamental event was the mechanization of agricultural techniques between the two world wars, which set the foundations for modern agriculture, increasing the efficiency and yield of the fields.
A century after the spread of the tractor, the rapid technological development that has already invested the secondary and tertiary sector is also about to revolutionize the agricultural world: we are about to enter the era of agriculture 4.0.
What is meant by agriculture
4.0? The term agriculture 4.0, or Precision Farming, was first introduced in a workshop in Montana in 1990 and refers to a business management strategy that uses modern technologies with the aim of increasing site-specific productivity, efficiency and quality of agricultural products, while minimizing
the environmental impact.
The tools for data collection
The tools of agriculture 4.0 allow first of all to have an up-to-date picture of the state of the fields. Thanks to satellite monitoring of crops and the use of drones and sensors it is possible, for example, to analyze the characteristics of the soil, prevent any diseases and pests that could affect the crop, record weather data and map the resistivity of the soil. The advantage of these data collection systems is the possibility to monitor very large areas, identifying any critical issues (irrigation problems, nutritional deficiencies, pests, damage due to hail ..) and intervening promptly to remedy them.
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The tools for the intervention
in the field
The phase following data collection is that of intervention in the field, and even in this case the technologies of agriculture 4.0 are extremely useful.
As a matter of fact, modern equipments allow to dose fertilizers, water and phytosanitary in a differentiated way according to the needs of the crops, reducing waste and optimizing resources. There are also assisted and automatic guidance systems for tractors, and it will soon be possible to remotely manage the entire fleet of agricultural machinery, obtaining a large amount of data with the aim of perfecting performance in terms of efficiency and environmental impact. In other words, this revolution will lead to optimizing the yield and resource consumption of every single square meter of land.
Why is a necessary revolution?
Due to the rapid increase in world population, which will exceed 9 billion by 2050, the FAO has estimated that the need for agricultural products will increase by 60% in the next thirty years. The main problem is that 80% of arable land is already being used and, due to global warming and related phenomena (desertification, rising oceans, drought, changes in weather patterns), the arable land area is decreasing. The only way out is to increase the productivity of the land already in use, while avoiding greater impact on the environment and natural resources. Precision agriculture is the solution to this problem: integrating the use of modern technologies in traditional farming methods can really be the key to increase agricultural production with a view to sustainability and respect for nature.