Europe’s opportunity in digital agriculture

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Farming may sometimes seem the most traditional of activities, but it has never stopped innovating. Every generation has brought technological and organisational advancements, from when stone-age man first used primitive tools to the use of disease-resistant crop varieties. Now, digital farming is ushering in the latest revolution in humanity’s agricultural practices. Will Europe benefit as much as it could?

As the world’s population continues to grow towards an expected 10 billion over the next few decades we must increase yields while ensuring sustainability: produce more with less. Digital innovations make agriculture even more efficient and sustainable. Big data and analytics are set to transform the world of agriculture as we know it. Machinery for working the land is becoming smarter and more autonomous. Combined with data collection and data analytics, smarter machinery can begin to tap into the potential of micro-climates.

The promise is for an agricultural sector that is smarter, leaner and cleaner. Technologies such as self-driving tractors controlled by satellites, drones, sensors, robots, big data and cloud services are already turning farms across the world into smart farms and offer possibly huge new business opportunities to the whole value chain. Europe’s farmers must not miss the boat and will need to be provided with the tools and know-how to drive competitiveness in the coming decades. A favourable enabling legislative environment will be critical in driving the widespread uptake of digital farming across the EU.

This snapshot looks into the promise of digital farming for Europe’s farmers, and provides an overview of related regulatory aspects in the European Union.

Vladimir Beroun is Senior Consultant in FTI Consulting’s ‘Technology, Media, and Telecom’ industry practice in Brussels.

 

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