Technology

The future of farming: Smart farming

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  • The future of farming: Driverless tractors, drones and robots. How is the agriculture industry changing as digital technology develops?

    Unmanned tractors controlled via GPS; drones that kill vermin in the fields from above; and highly efficient bull sperm used to produce genetically optimized calves. This is not science fiction. It’s the future of farming, today. “Smart farming” is the agricultural industry’s new buzzword.

    Smart Farming represents the application of modern Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) into agriculture, leading to what can be called a Third Green Revolution.

    Following the plant breeding and genetics revolutions, this Third Green Revolution is taking over the agricultural world based upon the combined application of ICT solutions such as precision equipment, the Internet of Things (IoT), sensors and actuators, geo-positioning systems, Big Data, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs, drones), robotics, etc.

    Smart Farming has a real potential to deliver a more productive and sustainable agricultural production, based on a more precise and resource-efficient approach. However, while in the USA possibly up to 80% of farmers use some kind of SFT, in Europe it is no more than 24%.

    A survey of almost 600 German farmers has revealed that more than one in two now uses digital solutions to optimize their harvests. Fierce regional and global competition, declining subsidies, higher standards of food quality, environmental protection, and increasing demand are forcing farmers to be highly efficient.

    This smart farming documentary looks at three examples of “smart farming” in Germany. Breeding consultant Johanna Schendel creates optimized dairy cows by selecting the right bull semen. Asparagus farmer Heiner Bartels uses a smartphone to calculate the optimum time to harvest. And drone pilot Bernd Meyer is out to fight pests in maize fields from the air. All three are trying to use modern technology to modify nature to fit the needs of our society. But where are the limits?

    Directed by: Anke Gehrmann

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