Digital solutions, can they be trusted?

Are Italian farmers aware of the key role of digitization in the sector?
He wants to answer this question BASF Italy with the campaign “Farmer, The Greatest Job on Earth” dedicated to the new challenges of agriculture and the support that can come from digital tools. Specifically, the campaign aims to raise farmers’ awareness of the key role of digitization in the agricultural sector with innovations capable of streamline the field and the most profitable businesses.

To talk about digital, the company, in collaboration with the Smart Agrifood Observatory at the Polytechnic of Milan and Hort@ – born as a spinoff of the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore and now part of the BASF group, brought together farmers, experts and all actors of the supply chain in two events, first in Tuscany and subsequently in Puglia; an area where agriculture plays a leading role in the economic, regional and national context, with intensive and technologically significantly modern cultivation.

“Farmers are called to produce more and more and better, especially considering that in 2050 there will be 10 billion of us on Earth.” he declared Andrea Boccuni, Communication and Sustainability Manager at BASF, at a stop in Puglia on 24 October at Vivaio Digitale in Gravina, Puglia (Ba). Faced with the challenges of the future, BASF is convinced of thisuse of digital solutions can be a valid support for all players in the supply chain.

“For the challenges the future holds for farmers, both due to a growing population and climate change – hit Simone Ceruttiglobal sales manager BASF -. we are committed to providing the tools and knowledge to ensure asustainable and efficient agriculture.

What are the barriers to adopting digital solutions?

Regarding the use of digital solutions, during the event the farmers in the room raised some doubts about the widespread use of these solutions.

“I don’t believe”

PUSH distrust it can be a very common feeling when accessing new and digital tools, but knowing them is the first step to start using them.

“Hort@ has changed the way data is transmitted because if it is not transformed, it is not effective benefits for farmers” pointed out Vittorio Rossiprofessor of the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Piacenza and co-founder of Hort@ when introducing the topic of data and its reliability.

So what makes a process reliable?

  • PUSH definition information that the model must return to users;
  • PUSH conceptualization biological and ecological process;
  • L’getting biological knowledge;
  • and development mathematical framework;
  • PUSH Validation model outputs in different agricultural contexts;
  • PUSH Assessment benefits arising from the use of the model;
  • PUSH codification model algorithms within DSS.

That’s why it’s essential “calm” the farmer and support him throughout the crop’s growing cycle. And Hort@ does this with a Decision Support System (DSS) which supports the cultivation of crops according to the principles of sustainable and precision agriculture.

“I can’t rate the benefits”

Another obstacle concerns both i return on investmentwhich are not always clearly perceived by farmers and the benefits are not easily communicated.
It is this lack of clarity about the benefits that can be achieved with the use of 4.0 solutions that leads agricultural companies not to evaluate digital tools, but to continue to operate with traditional solutions.

In this regard, the Smart Agrifood Observatory enters the field, “Our mission is to understand deeply digital innovation that are transforming the agricultural and agri-food supply chain – he explained Maria Pavesilead researcher at the observatory, who then added – but also to communicate research results to decision-makers and create a culture, creating opportunities for meeting and discussion to foster dialogue and valuable innovation.”.

Needs and benefits of agriculture 4.0 solutions

“From 2019 to today, there have been increase in investment in this industry – specifies Maria Pavesi – and in 2022, 70% of agricultural companies out of a sample of around 1,000 companies surveyed in the Smart Agrifood Observatory Survey said they were using at least one Agriculture 4.0 solution.”.

Among the goals that these solutions fulfill are primarily the goals with which they are associatedefficiencyor the optimization of various production factors, such as the use of technical inputs, water use, the use of machinery and the work of operators.

Others are related toraising awareness about what is happening in society, such as reducing the time needed to meet regulatory obligations or the damage caused by parasites and weeds. Having a clear landscape is critical to making the right decisions to optimize inputs.

Finally, we find that it is important to create less tiring physical work for operatorsthe number is not at the top of the needs, but among the benefits found.

In fact, there is complete coherence between them needs and benefits faced by agricultural enterprises.

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