A EURACTIV – GIGAEurope Digital Debate

Precision Agriculture: What do farmers want?

5 December 2022

14:30 – 15:45 CET

ONLINE

During the fifth EURACTIV – GIGAEurope Digital Debate Series event,  policy makers, civil society organisations, and industry experts will examine the role that digital technologies can play in global efforts to address food security and make the agricultural sector more sustainable.

Many of society’s most important activities, such as the production of food, constitute some of the globe’s most carbon-intensive industries. In the European context, there are the compounded strains of feeding an aging and growing population, the rise of food prices, and the EU resolve to implement the Green Deal and make Europe a climate neutral continent. Retailers are also experiencing a greater demand from consumers for sustainability and traceability. This presents several challenges for an already complex industry. Furthermore, an increase in global climate variations is making farming less predictable.

Many commercial farmers have identified ways to leverage digital technologies to make existing agricultural practices more precise. Precision farming techniques are expanding within the sector. They also vary and range from simple, low-cost practices (such as replacing sprayer nozzles to avoid overuse of pesticides) to employing sensors and meters that help conserve usage of agricultural inputs such as water, fertilisers, and plant protecting products (PPPs). More complex approaches use drone technology for geo-spatial imaging and mapping and harness AI technology to better understand fluctuations of farming conditions.

Proponents champion precision farming for its role in maximising the use of agriculture inputs while minimising the sectors impact on the environment. However, there are barriers to adoption. Many of these systems require high-quality connectivity in rural areas, enhanced digital skills, and regulatory assurances that farmers will be able to fully benefit from their investments.

Questions to be addressed include:

– What are the current attitudes and adoption rates of precision agriculture tools of Europe’s farms?

–  What environmental challenges do farmers face and what is the role precision agriculture can play in tackling these?

– What is industry doing to address farmers’ concerns around privacy and data ownership?

– What sort of regulatory assurances can policymakers provide if farmers invest in precision farming tools?

PANELLISTS

Gaelle Marion, Head of Unit for environmental sustainability, DG AGRI

Franc Bogovič MEP, AGRI Committee, European Parliament

Pekka Pesonen, Secretary General, Copa Cogeca Farmers Association

Dicky Carstens, CEO, MyFarmWeb

moderated by Mariam Zaidi, Journalist, EURACTIV