Marc Sneyders

Connecting People and Practice to Showcase Digital Farming

It’s one thing to attend a conference on sustainable farming innovations, but seeing these innovations in practice on a living, breathing farm provides an added layer of tangibility.

Every day, we are becoming more connected, engaged and informed through technological advancements touching all areas of our lives. In the agricultural sector, it is no different. Recent developments in digital farming technology are helping farmers with everything from better understanding field and crop conditions, to optimizing inputs such as crop protection and fertilizers, to reducing their environmental impact while improving the competitiveness of their farm.

Understanding the impact of these advancements, however, can be difficult without seeing them in practice. Bayer ForwardFarming provides an excellent opportunity for demonstration, dialogue, and partnership, serving as a platform for the exchange of ideas and insights around sustainable agriculture.

An example of this collaborative spirit was demonstrated recently at Hof ten Bosch, a ForwardFarm located less than 30km from Brussels, Belgium. On June 28 and 29, the farm welcomed EU stakeholders and policy members for two days of farm visits centered on the topic of Digital Farming.

Marc Sneyders
Marc Sneyders
Marc Sneyders,
Head Sustainable Operations at Bayer Crop Science

Partnerships that Increase Production

Like any digital network, it is essential to find connection and collaboration between the various elements that make the farm run smoothly. With access to suppliers such as Bayer, John Deere and Yara, farmers are able to harness the combined innovation to operate a profitable, yet sustainable business.

At Hof ten Bosch the three companies were able to show how their services and tools complement each other on a functioning farm.

Working Farm Demonstrations

Value chain partnerships, illustrated during the farm visit by Yara’s discussions on nutrient management and John Deere’s session on executing digital strategy, alongside Bayer’s offerings, are critical in insuring a holistic approach to sustainability. In addition to touring the farm, visitors could also witness digital farming innovations in action.

An example of one such innovation is Bayer’s FIELD MANAGER, a web-based decision making system currently being developed that helps farmers determine the right moment for application on each field and even specific zones to protect their crops from dangerous diseases, pests and weeds. Participants were able to see first-hand how the tool combines field data and frequently-updated satellite pictures to create specific application schedules and field-zone specific maps that are integrated into their machine’s computer system.

John Deere illustrated how these data points and tools, coupled with modern equipment can help farmers apply the optimal amount of crop protectants and fertilizers, at exactly the right moment.

Bayer’s WEEDSCOUT, an automatic weed-identification application, was also demonstrated during the Hof ten Bosch farm visit. Next year, the SCOUTING app is intended to be updated with even more automatic identification features able to recognize diseases, insects, yield estimation, as well as leaf area damage.

Yara’s ImageIT app, a similar mobile tool, turns a farmer’s smartphone into a high-tech crop nutrient gauge by estimating the crop biomass and nitrogen content from a single photo of the crop. Attendees were encouraged to take a photo of a crop and see for themselves how the application used visual data to create field-specific recommendations. Yara also gave demonstrations of their N-Tester, a quick-reading nitrogen measurement tool, and N-Sensor, a cab-mounted sensor that determines a crop’s nitrogen demand.

Dialogue on Digital’s Future

ForwardFarms welcome not only visitors to the farms, but also invite transparent, honest dialogue. In addition to conversing with local farmers and industry experts from Bayer, John Deere and Yara, participants were motivated to bring any concerns and questions about digital farming to the table both during the different stations of the farm tour and over casual conversations during the event BBQ.

Topics that were of interest included information security, investment support for technology uptake, data usage, farmer decision autonomy, compliance with regulation and the importance of collaboration at each stage of sustainable farming.

As farmers search for solutions to ensure the sustainability of not only their business, but also their communities and the environment, global and local dialogue coupled with opportunities to see, test and experience innovations in sustainable farming help illustrate the need for collaboration in agriculture.

Optimizing the decision-making process in agriculture will not only help preserve the environment, but also stimulate economic growth and benefit the farmer’s quality of life. As technology makes way for a more connected world, the connection of people, places and perspectives becomes even more paramount.

To learn more about ForwardFarming visit www.cropscience.bayer.com/en/crop-science/forwardfarming and to explore more in the Digital Farming space check out www.digitalfarming.bayer.com.

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