With the climate crisis intensifying, global regulations changing rapidly, and an ever-growing number of new technologies emerging, what challenges do South American farmers face? Are they being addressed by the innovation ecosystem?
“The South American priority in agro is competitiveness! This word encompasses the increasing productivity of total factors and the fundamental sustainability of agriculture. We are, in South America, the global hope for food security and actions in the line of decarbonization, and the data indicate our motivation for environmental preservation. The endless search for competitive capacity carries the motto of the correct use of soils, improving them, correcting existing degradations, and constantly increasing productivity.” Caio Corrêa Carvalho, President, ABAG
“Agriculture solved historically through science and technology problems that no one thought it could solve. South America is a world benchmark in agricultural sustainable productivity, with indices in many cases doubling on the same hectare of land. The difference that we are witnessing compared with previous technology introductions is the number, the speed, and the impact in all the segments of the agribusiness supply chain. As a result, services and products to the farmer can no longer be the same. The success of any agricultural technology has always ultimately relied on the rate of adoption among farmers.” José Gobbée, Principal, THE CONTEXT NETWORK
More farmers are adopting new technologies in their operations, but are they meeting their needs, and what gaps could be addressed?
“Technologies available nowadays in the Argentinian market are providing the farmer with new data. Just thinking of satellite imagery data and the more widespread availability of harvest maps allow farmers to re-know their field from a new (zenith) perspective and optimize the use of resources (including human). The industry provides a plethora of products making it easy for farmers to start changing their ways of working to more efficient ones, being able to make a better use of the resources available and hence running more sustainable businesses.
However, the proliferation of targeted platforms means that farmers find themselves having to enter the same data over and over again for different aims: traceability, stock management, agronomic decisions, etc. This is the main risk to the digitalization of the ag world, as tech fatigue can reduce the uptake of any single platform. The industry needs to work together and provide easy integrations between platforms, thus enabling farmers to frictionlessly leverage the power of these new technologies.” Ana Wegman, Head of Innovation & Development, LARTIRIGOYEN
“We have many technologies available in Argentina. Some of them are reduced versions of those available in other parts of the world, maybe on a trial phase. Many of them do meet our needs, but certainly there are more technologies and products than we currently need, while some of our needs are not yet fulfilled. Many technologies that are successful in other regions simply seek to replicate the same business model in Argentina, prior to checking for local necessities.
We have currently many of the farm information already digitalized (rainfalls, scouting data, sampling points, environmental and prescription maps for example) and the main problems are to share the information within our team and organize all the different field layers (prescription & application maps, yield maps, etc) generated each year. Also, to see all the information gathered on a single platform, as it is scattered over different databases. We are now undergoing a project in order to organize all GIS information in a simple, friendly and connected way.” Nico Ridley, Technology & Digital Transformation Lead, MSU AGRO
“Modern agriculture is facing many new challenges with climate change, technological intensification, pressure from society for sustainability, increased demand for plant-based foods, digital transformation. To overcome these challenges there will be a need for a new profile of professionals, management and governance will be necessary for professionalization of the agriculture sector. Everyone should ask themselves what they are doing to develop people for a modern and more sustainable agriculture. The future is now, we need to act now!” Gerhard Bohne, Board of Directors, BOA SAFRA SEMENTES
From small family-owned operations to huge conglomerates, South America’s farmers will give a glimpse of their innovation priorities and share the learnings from their digitalization journey. Continue the conversation at the World Agri-Tech South America summit on June 28-29, in São Paulo.