Digitalization of agriculture

Digi­tiz­a­ti­on is one of the most signi­fi­cant deve­lo­p­ments of the 21st cen­tu­ry and has revo­lu­tio­ni­zed agri­cul­tu­re in recent years. In the past, the job of a far­mer invol­ved a high level of phy­si­cal workload as well as a lar­ge amount of time. Many acti­vi­ties were per­for­med manu­al­ly and the far­mer was for­ced to be always avail­ab­le on site. Incre­a­sing digi­ta­liz­a­ti­on has led to posi­ti­ve chan­ges for far­mers – „digi­tal far­ming“ or „smart far­ming“ are no lon­ger for­eign words.

Ger­ma­ny is one of the world’s lea­ding nati­ons in the manu­fac­tu­re and use of modern agri­cul­tu­ral tech­no­lo­gy. In par­ti­cu­lar, many star­tups from the „Ag-Tech“ sec­tor (Agri­cul­tu­ral Tech­no­lo­gy) have been shaking up the agri­cul­tu­ral indus­try in recent years with inno­va­ti­ve ide­as and new types of soft­ware. Auto­ma­ted sys­tems such as mil­king robots, remo­te-con­trol­led com­bi­ne har­ve­s­ters, viti­cul­tu­re robots or auto­ma­tic fee­ders are now wide­ly used in ani­mal hus­bandry. In the future, more digi­tal solu­ti­ons will follow.

“According to a survey, 80% of farmers consider digitization in agriculture to be useful.“

Federal Minis­try of Food and Agri­cul­tu­re of Ger­ma­ny (BMEL)

The buz­z­word „Big Data“ will gain enor­mous impor­t­ance in agri­cul­tu­re in the com­ing years. Thanks to new deve­lo­p­ments in sen­sor tech­no­lo­gy, it is now pos­si­ble to collect a wide ran­ge of data on pro­duc­tion and ani­mal beha­vi­or and thus eva­lua­te or opti­mi­ze pro­ces­ses. Intel­li­gent sys­tems take over the moni­to­ring of rele­vant para­me­ters and pro­vi­de all infor­ma­ti­on in real time. For examp­le, modern sen­sors mea­su­re the body tem­pe­ra­tu­re, move­ment acti­vi­ty or the drin­king beha­vi­or of ani­mals. Novel came­ra models exami­ne move­ment pat­terns or moni­tor the births of young ani­mals. The avai­la­bi­li­ty of this data at any time via sui­ta­ble apps faci­li­ta­tes the farmer’s dai­ly work. Often, this enab­les the far­mer to no lon­ger have to be on site around the clock.

Self-dri­ving har­ve­s­ting vehi­cles, intel­li­gent feed sys­tems and robots, for examp­le, make a decisi­ve con­tri­bu­ti­on to redu­cing the phy­si­cal workload of far­mers. On the one hand, the reduc­tion of phy­si­cal labor streng­t­hens the vita­li­ty of far­mers. In addi­ti­on, the use of modern tech­no­lo­gies often ensu­res suc­ces­si­on at farms. Alt­hough experts belie­ve that smart sys­tems could result in the loss of tra­di­tio­nal jobs, new fiel­ds of employ­ment are being crea­ted in data ana­ly­sis or through the expan­si­on of eco­no­mi­c­al, digi­ti­zed farms.

In addi­ti­on, ani­mal wel­fa­re can be incre­a­sed through the new pos­si­bi­li­ties for moni­to­ring ani­mal health and ear­ly detec­tion of mala­dies, for examp­le owing to the use of fit­ness tra­ckers and health moni­to­ring. In addi­ti­on, digi­ta­liz­a­ti­on will make food pro­duc­tion more sus­tainab­le and trans­pa­rent, for examp­le by pro­vi­ding pre­cise infor­ma­ti­on on the ori­gin of products.

With the SEAWATER Cube, we would like to rea­li­ze ano­t­her branch of pro­duc­tion for far­mers with all the advan­ta­ges of the digi­tal world. Our ful­ly auto­ma­ted fish farm takes up only 100 squa­re meters of space and requi­res an average workload of appro­xi­mate­ly 1.5 hours per day. An inte­gra­ted came­ra allows visu­al con­trol or moni­to­ring of the ani­mals at any time and from any loca­ti­on. The ope­ra­tor has full access to all sys­tem para­me­ters via a Sie­mens panel and various con­trol func­tions are also avail­ab­le in real time at any time. The Cube is inte­gra­ted into the company’s own cloud and com­mu­ni­ca­tes with our SEAWATER sys­tem con­trol cen­ter via modern remo­te con­trol sys­tems. This enab­les us to pro­vi­de sup­port during ope­ra­ti­on, ope­ra­ting errors are avoided and pro­cess and pro­duc­tion sta­bi­li­ty is increased.

In sum­ma­ry, the incre­a­sed use of tech­no­lo­gy in agri­cul­tu­ral pro­duc­tion is the­re­fo­re asso­cia­ted with many advan­ta­ges. Howe­ver, com­ple­te auto­ma­ti­on in agri­cul­tu­re is still lar­ge­ly a visi­on of the future. In con­clu­si­on, it remains to be said that ani­mal hand­ling and far­ming are sen­si­ti­ve fiel­ds of acti­vi­ty that will never com­ple­te­ly dis­pen­se with the human fac­tor. Some­ti­mes intui­ti­on, expe­ri­ence and com­mon sen­se can sim­ply help bet­ter than any software.

Refe­ren­ces

— Federal Minis­try of Food and Agri­cul­tu­re of Ger­ma­ny / Bun­des­mi­nis­te­ri­um für Ernäh­rung und Land­wirt­schaft (BMEL): Digi­ta­li­sie­rung in der Landwirtschaft

— Land­wirt­schafts­ver­lag GmbH, F3 – farm.food.future, „Big bro­ther is watching Kuh“, Aus­ga­be 01/2019

— Pic­tu­re: SEAWATER Cubes