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Key stakeholders discuss the importance of Precision Farming for EU agriculture

Date

31 May 2017

Sections

Agriculture & Food

On May 23rd 2017, Yara opened the doors of its global agronomic R&D Center to over 70 experts, farmers, industry representatives and members of EU Institutions and of Member states’ governments. All attendees participated to a workshop on how to make Precision Farming mainstream.

“Precision agriculture (or precision farming) methods promise to increase the quantity and quality of agricultural output while using less input (water, energy, fertilizers, pesticides, etc.)” states a recent study from the European Parliament Research Service, which also recommends that precision farming be one of the key issues to be addressed by the next CAP.

During a panel discussion, Jurgen Tack, Scientific Director of the European Landowners Organisation, defined precision farming as “a complete set of methodologies, from which we can get an increase of productivity while at the same time do good to the environment. I’m absolutely sure we have to grab this opportunity”.

From discussions held during roundtables, it actually emerged that precision farming is seen by many as the way forward, especially for the “millennium” generation. However, most participants agreed that precision farming still needs support to become mainstream and self-propelling. 81% of respondents to an online survey answered positively when asked whether Precision Farming implementation should receive support from the EU and national authorities.

“Due to the diversity and complexity of EU agriculture, this mainstreaming cannot happen without a framework allowing for flexibility and some support from authorities” stated a farmer representative during his presentation. This view was supported by Tiffani Stephani from Fertilizers Europe, who emphasized that “the current greening measures are very precise, partly because they have to be controlled and are limiting the possibility for farmers to increase their productivity and also contribute to the environment [protection] at the same time. Precision farming is actually a solution to be more flexible and give them more options to adapt their practices”.

Other lines of thought discussed during the meeting regard the remuneration of the environmental benefits of precision farming, which merit support through the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), as well as the anticipated gradual implementation of precision farming due to, amongst others, the interdependency with other EU Policies. Nonetheless, speeding up the mainstreaming of precision farming in order to remain sustainably competitive, is recognized and should not be awaiting all circumstances and prerequisites to be in place. Otherwise said “Don’t support the destination, support the journey”.

A detailed follow-up on roundtable and panel discussions will be made available shortly so that the rich reflections started during the workshop can keep alive and be built upon. Indeed, as Luc Vernet from Farm Europe commented, “a day like this shows how fast the sector is evolving [..]. We need for the next step of the policy to start from the sector. What’s going on? Where are we heading and where do we want to end up?” Starting the discussion with all stakeholders at the table is the key for success and the right way to initiate wider adoption of precision farming”.

The day consisted of live demonstrations of precision farming tools, including popular free apps such as ImageIT. Guest speakers included members of the European Commission as well as farmer representatives and industry players. During the roundtable discussions participants also confronted their views on how to mainstream Precision Farming to transform European agriculture through the CAP.

For more information regarding the event, please contact:

Sabine Jacquet (sabine.jacquet@yara.com / +32 (0)2 773 56 54) 

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