Epi Gis (On Earth) is a magazine published by Piraeus Bank and covers various topics of the agrifood sector, through contributions of various stakeholders, such as researchers and academia, representatives of agricultural cooperatives and enterprises, agronomists, farmers and others.
The 13th issue (Winter 2019) of the magazine focuses on topics related to new farmers and innovation in the greek agricultural sector. In this context, it features an article on smart farming by NEUROPUBLIC‘s President and Head of gaiasense Mr. Fotis Chatzipapadopoulos.
In his article, Mr. Chatzipapadopoulos explains in simple words what smart farming is about and how it supports Greek (and not only) farmers. He focuses on the role of technology and at the same time he refers to the fact that it is usually out of reach of farmers, due to the lack of the necessary digital skills and financial capacity for investments.
Smart farming needs producers willing to adopt a new culture regarding the management of their production process
Last but not least, as Mr. Chatzipapadopoulos mentions. a necessary condition for smart farming to become accessible to Greek farmers and be adopted by them is that the farmers will change the way in which he deals with his production, his agricultural advisor, the producers and the environment.
You can download and read the Epi Gis magazine from the Piraeus Bank website (PDF – Greek only); and find the whole article on page 8. A translation of the article follows right below:
“More with less” with smart farming
A new term was introduced in farming pretty recently; but what does it really mean?
Smart farming is a new way of organizing agricultural activity, combining in an integrated way mature technologies in order to rationalize inputs, save production costs, increase the profit of farmers and agronomists, who can now provide “smart” agricultural advice enriched with previously unavailable data, that translates into money in the farmer’s pocket.
Simply put, smart farming is “more with less”: More and better product, with less irrigation water, fertilizers, pesticides, lower costs. More productive time and lower risk – through the scientific monitoring and processing of dozens of crop-related measurements at any moment. Smart farming also means better certification with less complex procedures. Higher added value of the product for better access to the market, with reduced environmental impact.
However, the implementation of smart farming requires the implementation and exploitation of new technologies such as the Internet of Things, Earth Observation technologies along with cloud computing and knowledge management technologies (i.e. Big Data – Artificial Intelligence).
The question is: Can each farmer pay for these technologies – and even more, understand them and manage them properly so that he benefits? Investment cost is an important factor, but there are now serious efforts and initiatives that will help relieve the Greek farmer of this burden. The same initiatives apply the model of “Smart Farming as a Service” in which the complexity of technologies is “hidden” from the farmer and therefore he is not required to have specific skills and knowledge on new technologies.
However, what is really needed is a farmer willing to adopt a new culture in the management of this production process:
- The culture of recording the farm activities and inputs – not for the sake of inspection but for enabling the assessment of the performance so that his next decisions will be even more accurate;
- The culture of seeking the experts’ advice and to accept the suggestions that are based on measurements and scientific knowledge;
- The culture of respecting the requirements of the buyers of the product, as well as preserving the environmental resources.
Thus to embrace, if hasn’t done this already, the culture of excellence.
If we could label a farmer that embraces this culture, we would call him a new farmer. Not referring to his age nor his entrance in the agricultural activity, but referring to his perception. The one who can make the leap and leave behind the aging practices and aspirations. This young farmer is automatically eligible in the era of smart farming, the era of financially and environmentally sustainable agriculture.