Digital agriculture … What does it mean? – AgroNotizie

Everyone talks about it “Innovation in agriculture” and many connect it to some concept that has to do with digital, information technology, interconnected … but what does it really mean?

To begin, let’s try to clarify the meaning of these four concepts:

  • precision agriculture
  • agriculture 4.0
  • digital agriculture
  • IoT

Precision agriculture

Precision farming began in the 1970s with U.S.-born technologies. It is based on the direct field monitoring thanks to data collection performed through microprocessors introduced since the 1980s and GPS technology born in the nineties and that allows you “Spatialize” (connect to survey point) the data collected.

In practice, we have tools that collect a series of parameters in the field (from the quantity of product harvested, to its quality, to the characteristics of the soil or the foliar apparatus) and are able to represent exactly where this data was collected. . In fact, there have been experiences in precision agriculture for at least 40-50 years: data are collected in the field and treated to make decisions about the activities to be carried out and, first of all, to reduce the use of technical means and the its impact on the environment …

Precision agriculture is the tool that fully achieves the concept of “Sustainable intensification” of agricultural production. But despite being available for decades, it has a hard time spreading because many farmers do not understand the real benefits and why the italian farm t-shirt is very small.


Agriculture 4.0

The concept of agriculture 4.0 refers directly to the historical evolution of agriculture from 1.0 to 4.0 that took place in the last hundred years.
Theagriculture 1.0 begins in the twentieth century (before, perhaps, there was agriculture 0.0 …) and is based on an ad production system high labor useof animal strength for carrying out many activities, and characterized by low productivity.

Theagriculture 2.0 was born in the early fifties with the famous “Green Revolution”. He saw the use of mechanics, chemical fertilizers and pesticides and allowed high increase in productivitybut with direct impacts (and then unpredictable) about the environment and sustainability.

Theagriculture 3.0 (or precision agriculture) appeared at the end of the last century, and was based on the use of Satellite geolocation tools for collecting “spatialized” data. and assist in the driving of agricultural machinery. From here it was a small step towards the automatic driving of the machinery and in fact the first satellite-guided machines in the agricultural sector have already been used in the early 2000s.

Theagriculture 4.0 (or smart agriculture) is based on the fact that a increasingly widespread use of the Internetthe appeal to computer processing techniquesincreasingly accessible and shared management of data and the use of field-specific monitoring technologies.
The real turning point for the spread of Agriculture 4.0 goes back to the so-called 2020 tax creditnational legislation which provides that only agricultural machinery equipped with “technology 4.0” is included in the “4.0” asset and can enjoy the contribution of 50% (compared to 10% of other agricultural machinery).


Digital agriculture

By digital agriculture we mean the so-called data agriculture. This is the confluence of any information gathered in the field to help the entrepreneur to:

  • arrange all documentation necessary for comply with legal requirements;
  • make decisions based on the information gathered in the field (the so-called “data-driven decision”);
  • guide innovation in the company (the so-called “data-driven innovation”).

In fact, everything starts from the paradigm that the more information you have, the more you decide rationally and not “belly” (typical of the approach to humanistic problems but not always functional for the development of agriculture …).
Interesting, in this context, the so-called “Share data”: one of the key features of the data is that they do not wear out but if so they sharerepresent the basis for growth. Everyone knows that only if you share information do you grow (docet training …) and anyone who makes their information available has the direct advantage of having the help of experts who are able to evaluate it in the best way. possible and contribute to growth. of agriculture. (thought not only as a source of profit but as a common good that feeds humanity).
In addition, thanks to digital agriculture, everything becomes measurable and controllable. And we all know that just what you measure … you can improve!
Thanks to the application in the field of digital agriculture, it is possible to move from the simple abstract concept that “knowledge helps” … to the real effectiveness of data collection and exploitation.

This is where the concept of “Servitization”: refers to the services provided by a company to provide optimal support for its products (in this case agricultural raw materials) that it sells to its customers to accompany them with a set of data that serve to add value to the goods themselves. but we’ll talk about that in another article.



It is the acronym for andInternet of things (internet of things) and is based on the fact that today there are a number of appliances what:

  • they can be placed in the field;
  • they feed themselves (with photovoltaic panels or long-lasting batteries);
  • I am geolocated (they know where they are and are able to communicate);
  • come with many sensors that constantly generate and detect a series of data (geological, environmental, contextual, operational …);
  • they are able to transfer data over the Internet to servers capable of doing so archive and process them;
  • have a relatively low cost.

All very beautiful and fascinating but … what does the farmer do with one? countless IoT objects generate infinite data if then these they are not interpreted and made useful for your business? Just think of the endless amount of information gathered in the field by contractors and then not used by agricultural entrepreneurs …
Great to have a sensor that tells me how the water curve is available for my crops but … if I don’t know exactly the water coefficient of my plant (species and variety) and the result of this interpolation of data (crop requirement) / field availability) does not activate irrigation immediately … I risk turning my IoT (internet of things) into IoN (internet of nothing …) completely useless!

All this to start sharing the same way of naming things and of evaluate its real usefulness by the farm.
We always keep in mind that the agricultural entrepreneur only buys what he needs. What you don’t need … is either given to you through useless public funding initiatives or you don’t buy it (so you don’t even have to learn how to use it and then report it!)

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