Agriculture 4.0 is the term now being given to the wave of digital technology which, we are informed, is going to revolutionise the way that land is farmed.
Whether this school of thought is quite the same as the general label ‘Precision Ag’ is unclear, but there is momentum building to see all that is happening in the world of digitalisation through this new marketing prism.
Digital technology is driving change
Whatever the philosophical umbrella, it is undeniable that what is presently available, and what is in the pipeline, is going to continue to make a big difference to the workload and management of farms.
At next year’s LAMMA agricultural machinery show to be held at the NEC in Birmingham in January, there will be a Farming 4.0 trail.
This is intended to provide an introduction to “the role of data, robotics, autonomous machines and advanced devices, which is becoming more important on-farm, particularly as the UK works towards the net zero goal”.
Four sectors of Ag 4.0
There are four main areas of development addressed by the organisers, the most obvious of which is autonomous machinery. Alternative energy sources, including renewables, are also placed under this heading.
The second is technology for livestock. This goes beyond robotic milking and covers various sensors and software for aiding in the management of animals.
Bringing it all together
Third comes big data and artificial intelligence (AI). Just how all the data that is generated is to be integrated into everyday farm management is still very much a work in progress.
The AEM recently noted that it is the area of digital technology in which farmers are showing the least interest.
Finally we have sustainability, which, in a way, covers all of the above as it will be a combination of these various sectors which deliver a farming method that does not consume irreplaceable energy or mineral resources.
Leading companies drive Agriculture 4.0
The trail is not a standalone exhibit, but rather a series of companies which feel they have something to offer in the way of taking farming forward with digital technology.
These exhibitors cover a broad range of activities and, besides the anticipated software houses, involve British Wagyu beef, Agrifac Machinery and Yara fertilisers.