New technologies are crucial for the future of agriculture, however, new technologies need to be adjusted and adapted to the end-users’ requirements to ensure that they are able to make the best use of them. Additionally, it is crucial for farmers to be aware of these solutions. Do farmers actually know about the new smart farming possibilities and what would be the solutions they prefer?
The IoF2020 Next Generation initiative is looking to involve the next generation of agricultural entrepreneurs in the adoption of new technologies and solutions that have been created in the IoF2020 project. This culminated in a contest which was set up in collaboration with students from Wageningen University & Research with the goal of increasing the visibility and impact of the innovations developed by IoF2020.
A survey was set up and spread through social media by CEJA and IoF2020. CEJA is a forum for dialogue between Europe`s next generation of farmers and key decision -makers. Such a forum is very important or the agri-food sector as it allows for the promotion of a younger and more innovative agricultural sector as well as the creation of good working and living conditions for young people who are becoming or already are farmers. CEJA gives these farmers a direct link and voice towards European institutions.
The survey covered nearly all the use cases present in IoF2020. Young agricultural entrepreneurs were invited to vote and give their opinion on the solutions most suitable for their specific needs. Each of the participants was asked five questions about the various solutions proposed by our use cases in each of the following sectors: arable, dairy, fruit, vegetable and meat. We received feedback from over 23 different countries.
The results of the survey across different sectors is varied and interesting. In the arable sector use case Precision crop management was the preferred by the participants. Interestingly however Within-field management zoning Baltics and Solar-Powered field sensors were also strongly preferred and were very close in terms of preference to Precision Crop Management.
Looking at the dairy sector, Lameness protection through machine learning was selected as the most preferable. This sector primarily had participants from West European countries. For the fruit sector this was the opposite. Here most participants were from the South of Europe. Intelligent fruit logistics was the most popular when taking into account all participants. When looking at young farmers under 40 years of age, Big wine optimization was preferred the most. Within the vegetable and meat sector Added value weeding data and Feed supply chain management came out as winners respectively.
If we look at what the most important reason is to prefer a certain solution by participants, usefulness is mentioned the most with high applicability to the participant and cost savings coming in second and third.
The survey has some limitations unfortunately. The initiative for the survey had the primary goal of increasing visibility and awareness instead of showcasing the detailed technical aspects of solutions and giving an evaluation. Additionally, in total there were only 69 responses and the survey had respondents filling in answers based on sketches of answers (which you can download here). This creates the issue of having a low sample size as well as respondents not being able to get into the more detailed nuances of solution which may change they view on the solution. The survey also did not cover all of the solutions developed in IoF2020 and as such there could have been other solutions more fitting to the respondents situation.