The subject adjustments the pocket book for the cell phone | Economy | EUROtoday

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Marcos Garcés (37 years outdated) knew sooner or later that to enhance the outcomes of his natural cereal farm he needed to go away behind the checkered, hardcover pocket book. the place he wrote down the actions of his 360 hectare farm and took a step in the direction of know-how. This farmer from Bañón (Teruel) started by tabulating in Excel every part he placed on his farm – amount of phytosanitary merchandise, liters of fertilizers or irrigation, and so forth. – however quickly after visiting an agricultural honest, he was shocked by a cell software the place In addition to holding a report of their every day duties, they might see a satellite tv for pc picture of their land or obtain info instantly from their tractors.

Garcés is an instance of what Spain needs to do with farms and farms. For a number of years now, throughout the framework of the planning of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), the Government has needed farmers to undertake digitalization as a method of managing their farms and thus enhance productiveness. Consequently, the Executive has promoted the usage of a Digital Notebook of Agricultural Exploitationthe place professionals within the sector can hold an account of their day-to-day actions and the Administration, on the identical time, can monitor whether or not they’re complying with the environmental guidelines required by Brussels.

“Now this virtual log helps us better size the business and make concrete decisions based on the information we collect,” explains Garcés. In his case, he can join the appliance with a John Deere tractor that he purchased a number of years in the past and acquire knowledge on tillage strategies, chemical substances used, or pesticides. “This tool even warns you that there is a percentage that you should leave fallow and that helps you better plan sowing or avoid CAP fines. With Excel you can move a column by mistake and mess it up, with this application there is no margin for error,” says Garcés.

This businessman from Teruel makes use of a free model of the appliance – though there are additionally as much as 60 business variations – and, he explains, when it’s necessary he’ll use the pocket book that the native cooperative provides, however he doesn’t plan to cease utilizing the software. The Government has additionally required the autonomous communities to make obtainable a free model of this pocket book.

Nicola Franco, director of xFarm Technologies, an Italian-Swiss agency that markets the pocket book, explains that hiring the providers of this software has an approximate worth of 90 euros per yr, though it varies relying on every firm.

The most complicated factor is importing the geographical info of the farm to the appliance for the primary time, in addition to the information of the employees and tractors, says Luis Serrano, director of Biotecarios, an organization in Córdoba that gives digital consulting for the sphere. “And based on this information it is only necessary to do a weekly review of the movements carried out during the week,” he provides. “If we have treated a herbicide or weed or have applied such a pesticide, we write it down. There are weeks when we should not record anything because there is not always activity on the ground. Although it is true that there is a learning period,” he admits.

Without sufficient sign within the subject

But the advantages of know-how have encountered a wall that’s tough to beat: the age of the farm employees. “It is evident that there is a gap that is affecting digitalization,” says José Luis Miguel, technical director of COAG. According to the agrarian census of the National Institute of Statistics, the common age of farm employees in Spain is 61 years; solely 4% of farmers are underneath 35 years outdated. Iván Lütolf, president of the Spanish Association for the Digitalization of Agriculture, argues that older farmers now not see it clearly that investing in digitalizing their crops might be worthwhile: “They are close to retirement and faced with the impossibility of a generational change “They are not interested in taking their exploitation further.”

Above all, the sector claims that the large amount of data required by the Ministry of Agriculture is unjustified. This is what they have called “the suffocating bureaucracy” of Europe. “It is unfair that a small farmer is asked to fill out the same amount of information as a mega farm,” defends Lütolf.

In the protests which have taken place all through the month of February, farmers have additionally been heard complaining that the web doesn’t attain their farms, one more reason why they reject the usage of the digital pocket book. Certainly, in farms it isn’t simple to seize the sign of the wi-fi. A report from the community operator Eurona figures that solely 78.3% of the agricultural inhabitants (3.8 million individuals) had entry to the community of their municipalities on the finish of 2020.

Farmer protests
Tractors alongside the Paseo de Gracia in Barcelona. Albert Garcia

Serrano, then again, defends that the sector's discomfort shouldn’t be centered on the imposition of the digital pocket book, however on the “contradictory” coverage of management of the sphere. “Brussels wants to monitor the farmer's every step through this tool, but then they open the doors for products to enter without having gone through the same monitoring.” Franco believes that if the farmer had been additionally paid the honest worth, every part can be extra bearable.

Despite every part, the strain of farmers' protests has pushed the Government to take a step again and permit the usage of this software to be optionally available.

Sow to the rhythm of the bit

Despite the frustration that the software could entail, all specialists agree that the leap in the direction of digital is the way forward for agriculture in Spain. Lütolf explains that the sector has turn into a form of “massive” collector of data and that the easiest way to handle all of the numbers and knowledge is the transition to the digital pocket book.

“There is no company that in 5 or 10 years will be profitable if it has not been digitalized,” says Lütolf, who explains that in a context during which agricultural costs “from the top of the agri-food chain,” farmers should give attention to lowering prices by way of know-how. “The majority have a mobile bank application to check their accounts,” she explains and specifies that digital notebooks are more and more being developed which might be simpler to make use of, “almost as easy as WhatsApp.”

The fields are additionally being geared up with sensors which might be able to sending info on the humidity of the crops or the presence of pests to the digital pocket book put in on a cell phone. “This way we have a justification before the Ministry for the insecticide treatment,” Córdoba insists. Although she warns, the worth shouldn’t be appropriate for all budgets, she factors out {that a} farmer pays 10,000 euros to sensorize 50 hectares.

Lütolf defends the significance of seeing this quantity as an funding and never as an expense. “When the farmer opts for a tractor worth 200,000 euros, he sees clearly that this payment is going to bring him a series of advantages and the return of that money, but when we tell him that a tool to digitize the farm is worth 2,000 euros, they interpret it as a expense,” explains this expert.

More than fifty tractors in the vicinity of MercaRioja (La Rioja).
More than fifty tractors in the vicinity of MercaRioja (La Rioja).RAQUEL MANZANARES (EFE)

With the data managed by Agrotech, depending on the use of each type of technology, achievements are possible such as savings of up to 70% in the use of water and 40% in the use of phytosanitary products. “We are the only ones capable of reducing costs for the farmer and increasing his production and profitability,” explains Lütolf. According to UN estimates, it will be necessary to increase food production by 50% to supply the population in 2050.

The sector needs to change the business mentality, explains Garcés, although he understands that it is a complex step that requires time to adapt. Otherwise, family farms will be lost little by little, explains Miguel, “and we would enter a model called uberization of the field made up of large companies and investment funds.” Garcés' father still challenges this transition to digital: he walks through his cereal field with a physical notebook in hand, on the cover of which you can read “sowing.” Curiously, the best of two generations coexist in its exploitation.

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