Better data networking and information at a glance – German Federal Ministry of Agriculture plans comprehensive data platform for farmers

Federal Minister Klöckner: With our service platform, we are setting the pace in Europe

Press Release / December 22, 2020

Agriculture is one of the pioneering industries in terms of digitalization. Now the German Federal Minister of Food and Agriculture, Julia Klöckner, is also leading the way in the smart handling of the increasing amount of agricultural data in Europe: Germany will be the first country in the EU to establish a comprehensive government-run data platform.

Important information is to be linked in a meaningful way and made accessible to farmers in an uncomplicated manner. The planned data platform is based on the results of the feasibility study performed by the Fraunhofer Institute for Experimental Software Engineering in Kaiserslautern, which had been commissioned by the Federal Minister. The study was led by Dr. Jörg Dörr.

German Federal Minister Julia Klöckner emphasizes: “Relevant information at a glance and smart networking of data instead of long, tedious searches – that is what this is about for us. We want to build and establish a service platform for agriculture, a central point of contact. Its aim is to save our farmers time at their desks and to make work in agricultural enterprises easier. We will now start implementing it quickly.”

The next steps – launch of the platform already next year

  • In a first step, the relevant agricultural data from government shall be collected on the platform, processed in an easily understandable way, and made available to users starting in 2021 already. A great advantage for farmers: To date, they often had to gather important information from various sources. In the future, they shall be able to obtain all the information they need for their business with just a few mouse clicks. This may include such diverse information as weather data, subsidy guidelines, important contact persons, or approval data for pesticides.
  • Building on this, the digital service platform shall be supplemented at a later date with additional functions, which will, for example, make it easier for farmers to apply for direct payments under the Common European Agricultural Policy or integrate interfaces for the electronic reporting to the animal origin and information system.
  • It is also planned to link the government-run platform with its contents and services to the planned European Data Infrastructure (GAIA-X) so that synergies between European countries can be exploited.

Project manager Dr. Jörg Dörr: “In the interviews with the players of the agricultural sector, it became clear that a government-run data platform that bundles the large amount of information provided by public agencies is desirable. With the feasibility study on government-run digital data platforms for agriculture, we have demonstrated that implementation is feasible both technically and legally as well, and that the responsibilities of the individual German states can be preserved in the process. A user-friendly, well-structured presentation and the step-by-step integration of different functions will offer enormous added value.”

Background:

The Fraunhofer Institute for Experimental Software Engineering IESE in Kaiserslautern was commissioned in August 2019 to conduct the feasibility study, together with its project partners: the Association for Technology and Structures in Agriculture (Kuratorium für Technik und Bauwesen in der Landwirtschaft, KTBL), the Technical University of Dresden (agricultural systems engineering), the European University Viadrina (public law), and the law firm Legerlotz Laschet und Partner Rechtsanwälte. Among other things, the team around Dr. Jörg Dörr conducted 104 interviews with representatives of different agricultural stakeholder groups (e.g., agricultural enterprises of different sizes, the agricultural machinery industry, responsible public authorities) and also carried out an online survey. In addition, almost 60 agricultural projects and initiatives were analyzed. The most important findings were:

  • Farmers want less bureaucracy.
  • They want to retain sovereignty over their own data.
  • They want to find government information better and easier.
  • Farmers in the agricultural sector need open, machine-readable interfaces for data exchange.
  • Public authorities, on the other hand, want stronger networking between government agencies.