The EU should forge ahead and become a ‘world leader’ in Digital Farming, according to the conclusions of today’s ‘Farming 4.0’ Summit in Brussels which saw EU policy-makers, industry leaders, digital experts and representatives from the farming community come together to discuss the way forward.
With robots, intelligent machines and farm management software arriving to the world of agriculture and transforming the sector in hitherto unknown depth, Digital Farming holds the promise of bringing immense benefits to the world of farming by boosting yields, environmental protection, resource efficiency, automation, and transparency in agricultural production.
However, reinforced efforts will be needed to see Digital Farming’s enormous potential unleashed in Europe. Supportive EU policies were singled out as one important factor.
“To reap the full benefits of Digital Farming, the EU needs to devise supportive, coherent and forward-looking policies which encourage those who push the boundaries of innovative Digital Farming technologies further, such as the farm machinery industry, and help those who can make a real difference on the ground by using them: farmers and agricultural contractors,” said Richard Markwell, President of CEMA, the European trade association of the agricultural machinery industry which organized the one-day conference.
Markwell welcomed the close cooperation between DG AGRI and DG CONNECT on Digital Farming and congratulated the European Commission for its key initiatives in this area such as the EU’s Large-Scale Pilot Project “Internet of Food and Farm 2020” (IoF2020).
Bringing European Agriculture to the Forefront of Digital Farming – what role can the CAP play after 2020?
At the same time, the sluggish technology uptake of Precision and Digital Farming in European agriculture remains a major concern. Speakers discussed which role Europe’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) could take after 2020 to help mainstream Precision and Digital Farming and ensure adequate access to Digital Farming technologies by farmers of all scales. CEMA proposes to include new, dedicatedsupport measures to ease farmers’ ability to invest in green digital and precision technology with proven environmental benefits.
Essential precondition: rural broadband
Speakers also highlighted the importance of avoiding a future ‘digital divide’ between urban and rural areas. Investment in rural broadband across the entire EU will be essential to establish a robust infrastructure and allow the digital farming revolution to unroll.