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Setting off to a new world

Innovatively managing process chains

In all honesty: The term "process chains" is only partially accurate. Strictly speaking, the chains are interlinked and form a Network - if everything goes well. This assumes that farms and their partners proceed systematically and don't lose sight of the big picture, for one thing is clear:  Digitalisation and automation cover all processes common on farms in the field and in the barn - up to and including joint data management of added value from the agri-food sector. 

Artificial intelligence in the field 

Farming operations are faced with three questions: How do they intended to manage their processes in future, what technology is available on the market for this purpose and how well does it pay off? "Artificial intelligence" (AI) is not the only answer. However, AI is part of the answer to all three questions. Approaches like "Agri-Gain" point exactly in this direction. The project of the Deutschen Forschungszentrums für künstliche Intelligenz (DFKI- German Research Centre for Artificial Intelligence) and the Institutes für Lebensmitteltechnik (Institute for Food Technology) integrates partners from the business sector. Agri Gain has set the goal of "creating a platform that already makes the AI modules available in the application context". According to the project's own definition, it uses "open data sources and stored expert knowledge". 

Approval slows progress 

As the Director of the DFKI, Prof. Joachim Hertzberg conducts research on the future of agriculture at the site in Osnabrück, Germany. The scientist emphasises the difference between "digitalisation" and "artificial intelligence".  Hertzberg assigns data - regardless of its quality and quantity - to the digital aspects, so to speak as a raw material. Algorithms of AI produce application-oriented options from it. Or to put it another way: With AI things start to get exciting. (Partially) autonomous systems for crop production and the related analysis instruments, including for efficient pest control, go beyond the development pipeline. Now it's a matter of application in the field, which among other things is slowed by approval processes.   In a TV interview, Hertzberg compares artificial intelligence with the "introduction of the tractor". Technology is there to control even the more detailed processes. This results in "a completely new type of agriculture". It's not possible "to turn everything around from one season to the next", however in view of the opportunities of AI, Hertzberg believes "it will go in that direction". 

Plan investments

Now it must be clarified how this technology fits in farms and at the respective location. A cool calculation goes without saying. AGRITECHNICA 2019 opens its doors in a few weeks and the guiding theme "Global Farming - Local Responsibility" is more than just the catchy motto of the trade fair. The world's leading trade fair for agricultural machines opens up the insight into the range of products and services of modern management systems for professional agricultural producers.  From 12 to 18 November exhibitors in Hanover present "what is possible in process management".  

The process chains in agriculture are becoming increasingly demanding, and that in several respects: As a result of digitalisation, more data are available to producers that then have to be converted into information.  Along the value-added chain up to the consumer, everyone expects greater transparency in food production and legal specifications, e.g. the Fertiliser Ordinance, and demand a consistently sparing use of the available resources. IT-supported systems are not only demanding, when used correctly they enable comprehensive farm management. Cultivation planning, care of stock, harvesting and marketing will no longer be individual workflows in the agriculture of the future, but instead a comprehensive system that is tightly interwoven. AGRITECHNICA 2019 shows the path to achieving this goal. 

At a glance

  • Data management determines the value-added chain 
  • Artificial intelligence is on the advance 
  • Requirements for process management are becoming more demanding
  • Value-added chain demands transparency 
  • Combine workflows to form a system

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