ILVO welcomed the public to its premises in light of open company-weekend in Belgium. A lot of interested parties came to learn more about IoF2020 and the future of food and farming.
During the open company weekend, ILVO opened its doors to the wider public. The event attracted around 2500 visitors, each of which endured the grim weather and constant drizzle. Two ILVO sites were opened to the public, the food pilot site, which highlights the new challenges for healthy and environmentally conscious food production, and the plant site, where researchers develop new plant varieties and agricultural techniques, and study pests and plagues. The following Monday, ILVO had the chance to host 350 schoolchildren, effectively having them meet the technology producing their future food.
The ILVO activities were mostly based around precision farming 4.0, and other modern farming techniques. Under that wider theme, IoF2020 and Smart Agri Hubs were also represented. Of the various IoF2020 use cases, Grazing Cow Monitoring saw a lot of interest among the visitors. Our arable cases were also put in the limelight, as ILVO was able to show the full extent of the use cases, including its high-end standards, ranging from spectral cameras and precision GPS techniques to the use of robotics.
Most visitors had some link to agriculture, either being a farmer or working in agriculture or food related businesses. Therefore, many of them came to the event with some notion of the possibilities and potential of IoF2020 and precision farming technology. Some even already used certain technologies, especially precision farming, sometimes even with the use of drones. The wider public, however, was amazed by how far technology has come in its implementation possibilities in farming. For them, the use of a biometrics, or GPS technology was unheard of in agriculture. Farmers as well, were impressed by the long strides this technology is taking in such little time. Their questions were as much about the large-scale potential, as about the possibilities for their farms. Costs especially, as IoF2020 technology demands certain large investments, were on the radar of farmers.
For ILVO, the event was an interesting outreach to the farming community. There have been quite some follow-ups in which a lot of interest has been shown into IoF2020. Where the project is widely known at the higher levels, with officials in the department of agriculture on the provincial and Flemish levels very much being in the loop on the project, the wider farming community deserves extra attention to support it in adopting the new technologies. Therefore, events like these open days are paramount in the communication and formation training of farmers towards embracing the future of farming. With the Pilot Projects coming to their end, the positive message of the success of the implementation of IoT in farming, needs to be conveyed to the wider public. More such events might thus be interesting as an outreach, although maybe with a ray of sunshine in the future.