Moving Europe towards full precision agriculture
Reflections on the ICT-AGRI 2: ICTs and robotics for sustainable agriculture
The use of new technologies in Europe has grown in the last decade, and this also true within agriculture. In fact, there is renewed expectation towards digitizing agriculture and food value chains. Can robotics adoption in agri-food systems change the current scene? Create new markets for data or lead to the creation of new global policies?
ERA-NET ICT-AGRI Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda
We visit the ICT-AGRI, which is an European Research Area NETwork (ERA-NET) which helps to coordinate European research in ICT and robotics to create a common approach and shared priorities.
The key objective of ERA-Net is to strengthen the international competitiveness of the European Union and to reduce the negative impact of agricultural production on the environment. One of the key aims is to “create a vision for ICT and robotics in agriculture”.
A recent report offers the current state of digital agriculture and offers priorities for the next 10 years to enable the use of new technologies for competitive, sustainable and environmentally friendly food and agriculture systems.
The current and future challenges for a sustainable global food and agriculture system
The following have been established as global challenges with the global food and agriculture system – climate change, population growth, environmental pollution, loss of biodiversity, deforestation and soil loss, obesity and malnutrition and water conflicts. These can be full explored in these reports:-
- UK Government’s Foresight Report (UK Government Office for Science,2011)
- The Future of Food and Agriculture (FAO,2017)
- The US Government Global Food Security Strategy (USGOV, 2016)
- Fixing Food ( Economist Intelligence Unit, 2016)
- From Uniformity to Diversity (IPES-Food, 2016)
Issues raised in these reports have an impact on the food and agriculture systems; and as a result calls for improved sustainable agriculture.
The role of ICT in supporting sustainable agriculture
ICTs are a growing contribution in promoting increased agricultural productivity that is environmentally sustainable. These technologies can be mobile phones, Internet of Things (IoT), artificial learning and the use of data by farmers.
Within the ICT-AGRI project, research and development is engaged in the backend support for data infrastructures and also an investment into precision agriculture. The initial exploration in precision agriculture centres on a) crop farming, b) horticulture and c) livestock farming. On farm collected data and online harvested data form an ecosystem of decision support systems for farmers.
It is the long term vision of the ICT-AGRI project to integrate robots into farm management systems to full achieve automated farming. The reports sees also more technologies enabling the future development of precision farming in Europe such as block chains.
The report concludes by giving current and future challenges for that a move to precision agriculture will bring.
Read the full report here