Digitalization as an opportunity for the agricultural sector
Industrialization has had a strong impact on agricultural technology in recent decades. Increasingly larger working widths and speeds as well as increasing degrees of automation have led not only to a significant rise in productivity, but also to heavier machines. Fertilization, excessive use of herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides, or various types of genetically modified seeds also cause permanent damage to the biosphere. Organic agriculture has evolved as an alternative. Here, the focus is on resource-friendly farming, and productivity losses are accepted deliberately. According to the United Nations‘ Agenda 2030 for “food security and sustainable agriculture”, sustainability and productivity shall be balanced worldwide. The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft’s new lighthouse project “Cognitive Agriculture” is in line with this goal.
With Fraunhofer towards highly efficient and sustainable agriculture of the future
In the Fraunhofer lighthouse project “Cognitive Agriculture” (“COGNAC” for short), eight Fraunhofer Institutes are doing joint research on basic principles that will enable farmers to achieve high productivity in line with further goals such as sustainability or product quality in our digitalized world. A uniform value system shall reflect decisions regarding the key aspects sustainability, resource efficiency, costs, and product quality. For this purpose, data on factors related to the agricultural enterprise and to the environment must be collected automatically with state-of-the-art sensor technology and must be evaluated, analyzed, and processed cognitively in agricultural work and business processes in order to make sustainable, fact-based decisions regarding both crop production and livestock farming.
In the lighthouse project “COGNAC”, the participating Fraunhofer Institutes will design and implement an integrated platform for information-based (cognitive) agriculture. The goal is to connect the numerous isolated solutions and make them usable as a whole from end to end in order to achieve maximum productivity and sustainability. The value chain begins with crop production and livestock farming, but also includes further process and processing steps in the long term.
The project is therefore expected to deliver crucial innovations in the three areas “Agricultural Data Space”, “Novel Sensor Technology”, and “Innovative Automation Concepts”.