11 November 2022, Italy: The race for Agriculture 4.0 continues unabated. Growing interest, a multiplicity of innovations and increased confidence in digital technology are driving farms and technical equipment suppliers towards new solutions. Eima International crystallises the trend with a multiplicity of innovations in the halls and, above all, with a current snapshot of the phenomenon. Taking stock of the situation today, the workshop ‘Agriculture… more and more 4.0: challenges and opportunities for Italian agricultural and livestock production’, in which the Smart Agrifood Observatory presented the latest data on the sector. “The growth of agriculture 4.0 – emphasises Andrea Bacchetti, director of the Smart Agrifood Observatory – is evident and continues. In five years, the turnover in Italy has increased more than tenfold from about 100 million in 2017 to 1.6 billion in 2021, with an increase of 23% in the last year alone. This is a significant figure that goes hand in hand with the increase in the area covered by Agriculture 4.0. In 2016, the Ministry of Agriculture had declared the goal of achieving precision management on 10% of the surfaces by 2021. We did not get there. But if you consider that in 2019 we were still below 1%, in 2020 we were between 3% and 4%, and in 2021 we estimate to be around 6%, you can understand what the trend and acceleration in growth is. The lion’s share of the EUR 1.6 billion is accounted for by machinery related to agriculture 4.0 (47% of the total) and the control of vehicles and equipment (35%), although there is good growth also in decision support systems. In addition to monitoring the general trend of Agriculture 4.0, the Smart Agrifood Observatory probes the behaviour of agricultural enterprises with an ad hoc questionnaire, which over the past year has produced feedback from almost 900 companies representing the national agricultural system. “Well – continues Bacchetti – 64% of these declared that they were adopting at least one of the solutions included in Agriculture 4.0 (precision irrigation, data control and monitoring, remote control, decision support systems) and 40% two solutions, with a growth of 15% in the last year. One thing that is striking in this universe is the almost total absence of drones and also the limited use of robots, which could be the frontier of Agriculture 5.0”.
A final piece of data, significant for a different attitude of agricultural businesses, is that of the benefits expected from Agriculture 4.0. “We expected that at the top of the expectations of farms – Bacchetti concludes – there would be a reduction in costs, but instead the farmers who have activated these solutions have put first the reduction of technical inputs and water savings, the improvement of soil quality and the final product, and less water and air pollution. Digital, it was said, pervaded all of Eima International. In addition to the Observatory data, several meetings on 4.0 issues took place on the day alone. From ‘The role of agricultural machinery for the digital transformation of the agri-food industry’, in which Pfn, Xfarm, Alpego, Caffini, Dcm and Mascar proposed their digital solutions, to ‘From perception to action: robotics, Ai and its impact on safety’, in which Matteo Matteucci (Milan Polytechnic), Matteo Fabbri (Unimore) and Massimiliano Ruggeri (CNR) discussed another of the new problems of innovative technologies: that of machine control and user safety.
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