4th Agroscope sustainability symposium - Smart Farming and sustainability: opportunities and challenges

An increase in productivity  play a key role in improving the competitiveness of Swiss agriculture. For the optimization of the production systems in the direction of sustainability and quality assurance, sensor-controlled, automated processes are increasingly available. These so-called smart farming systems offer potential for efficient, low-emission and resource-conserving production methods. The increasing networking between the systems creates additional synergies.

The fourth Agroscope Sustainability Conference focused on the following key questions:

  • Under what conditions do these new technologies of the Swiss agriculture and food industry, including the upstream and downstream sectors, bring added value?
  • How can these be used economically in the predominantly small-scale agriculture without causing additional stress or administrative burdens?
  • What does agriculture 4.0 mean and what about the acceptance of smart farming in practice?

 The fourth sustainability meeting of the Swiss research institute Agroscope took place in Tänikon last Thursday (19.01.2017). "The digital possibilities will inevitably generate much more data and thus provide potential for improvement," said Agroscope scientist Thomas Anken. However, the farmers are more and more in conflict between traditional requirements of their profession and the challenges the new technologies entail. According to Anken, an ideal platform would be the best way to automate as many data as possible and provide direct decision-making support to farmers. According to Christina Umstätter, researcher from Agroscope, it can often be stated that in today's digital world, people are not the center of technological developments. In addition to the increased labor productivity, it must be ensured that increasing technology does lead to work-simplification not to more psychological stress. "Farmers must feel themselves picked up by the new technologies and have enough information available for possible purchase decisions," says Umstätter. According to the scientist the swiss research center has long been developing and operating prediction systems that calculate the development of pests and diseases in advance. These included, for example, a pest prediction for fruit growing (SOPRA), a risk assessment of the fusarium infection in cereals (FusaProg) and a control and prognosis system to control the potato rot (PhytoPRE). The predictions models promote targeted plant protection and avoid unnecessary treatments. The classical prognosis systems are meant to be expanded by the new upcoming interconnected platform technologies.