The EU Commission has been encouraged to endorse a CAP reform policy which would reward those farmers achieving higher levels of productivity on a sustainable basis.

The organisation driving this agenda is CEMA, the body representing the interests of agricultural machinery manufacturers in Europe. CEMA Secretary General Dr. Ulrich Adams discussed the perceived benefits of this policy approach, when he addressed a pan-EU grouping of farm contractors at the French agricultural show SIMA 2015.

“In the first instance improved productivity must not be confused with increased farm output,” he said.

“Our focus is on getting farmers to produce more from less, when it comes to managing their land and their crops. The technology is already available to allow farmers maintain crop yields and quality but with a reduced reliance on inputs. It is the implementation of precision farming technologies that is making this work.

“Our proposal to Brussels is centred on the availability of a top-up area payment for those producers meeting the envisaged productivity targets,” he said.

CEMA’s proposal is the first salvo from the EU machinery sector in the run up to the 2017 mid-term review of the CAP. Specifically, the organisation is encouraging EU policy makers to establish a mechanism allowing Member States to dedicate 10% of their Pillar 1 budget envelope to specific projects aimed at enhancing farm holdings’ productivity.

“We need to simplify the CAP” said Adams.

“The further adoption of precision agriculture represents a win-win scenario for farmers. In addition to allowing them achieve higher levels of productivity, the information generated automatically by these technologies will help reduce the administrative burden imposed on farm businesses.”

Adams also believes that smart farming systems will be made equally relevant on farms of all sizes.

“The use of drones is already providing a fillip for small farmers,” he said.

“And the years ahead will see the development of precision machines, specifically designed for smaller farm businesses,” he said.