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Interviews with farmers – what technologies are you using?

Article introducing 7 farmers from across Europe who you'll hear from during the course.
© EIT Food

We’ve interviewed seven farmers from across Europe who’ve been using a range of different precision and digital agri-tech solutions on their farms. Their experiences are shared in the Video Steps throughout the course where you’ll hear them discussing the realities of using innovative technologies with lead Educator, Alice Mauchline.

You can meet them here:

photo of Erik Erik Jennewein farms in Germany.

Can you tell us about your farm?

Arable farm of 200 ha growing sugar beet, barley, wheat, peas and oilseed rape.
What does agri-tech mean to you?
For me, agri-tech means all of the farming equipment plus innovation; how can we use a range of techniques to help us to do a better job and improve environmental performance.
What agri-tech do you use?
We use precision farming approaches including: auto-track and documentation systems, site-specific techniques, satellite information for decision making and for creating precision maps and section control.
How long have you been using it for?
We first adopted satellite technologies in 2003 so we’ve been using agri-tech for 17 years now.
photo of Ben Ben Cooper farms in Wiltshire, UK
Can you tell us about your farm?
Mixed farm of arable cereals; wheat barley and oats and extensive grazing beef. General approach of low inputs for maximum yield.
What does agri-tech mean to you?
For me, agri-tech is any way that traditional agriculture intersects with a higher level of technology that ‘adds value’ such as adding precision and science to agriculture through the use of technology.
What agri-tech do you use?
For cereals, we use a GPS Trimble system for tractor guidance for precision applications of fertiliser and for spraying. We use a satellite based variable rate system for nitrogen applications (using the green leaf area index and biomass to map the yield). We also have grain store management system to manage moisture levels.
How long have you been using it for?
We have only been using the variable rate system for about a year, but we’ve been using the tractor guidance for a bit longer.
photo of Mel Mel Curnick farms in the UK
Can you tell us about your farm?
We have a 2,000 acre arable farm in Wiltshire with a poultry unit.
What does agri-tech mean to you?
Precision agriculture.
What agri-tech do you use?
We have 5 John Deere tractors running with StarFire GPS tracking. We use the Contour app for remote digital agronomy.
How long have you been using it for?
We have had precision systems for four years but we are just starting to get the full use from it.
photo of Simon Simon Beddows farms in the UK
Can you tell us about your farm?
1,000 ha estate just NE of Reading. Very variable soil type growing combinable crops on approx. 750 ha with a large environmental scheme.
What does agri-tech mean to you?
My idea of agri-tech is the use of GPS and remote monitoring of the crop using different techniques.
What agri-tech do you use?
GPS steering, variable applications of fertilisers, seed and pesticides – predominantly on the cereals.
How long have you been using it for?
We started looking at using precision agriculture in 2006 and took it quite seriously from 2008 when we sorted out a system that worked well for us.
photo of Antony Antony Pearce farms in the UK
Can you tell us about your farm?
I manage a joint venture of three family farms so we farm a total of 3,500 acres growing combinable arable crops.
What does agri-tech mean to you?
It’s a very wide-ranging term, but for me it’s anything that involves data to improve management of all levels of financial and physical farm performance.
What agri-tech do you use?
GPS steering. We are an innovative farm so we collect all farm data using GateKeeper software; but we have taken this further to send out job recommendations and to identify areas for improved productivity and for benchmarking.
How long have you been using it for?
Tractor guidance probably about 8 or 9 years, controlled traffic maybe 4 years. We’ve been benchmarking using tech data capture in the past two years.
photo of Valerio Valerio Vittorio Ventura farms in Ascoli Piceno, Italy
Can you tell us about your farm?
The company’s production includes extra virgin olive oil, monovarietal and flavoured oils, ancient cereals and flours, legumes, chestnuts, potatoes and various vegetables but also truffles, chestnuts and walnuts.
What does agri-tech mean to you?
I started with precision farming not such a long time ago… but it is already possible to understand what happens in the field and be able to make the best decisions about operations in the field, fertilisation, treatments, weeding, certification.
What agri-tech do you use?
Precision farming – using the Agricolus platform and a weather station that detects temperature, humidity and leaf moisture.
How long have you been using it for?
For about six months.
photo of Maciej Maciej Szeptycki farms in Poland
Can you tell us about your farm?
South Poland, close to the Ukranian border. The farm is roughly 300ha on very good quality, black soil. I grow vegetables; cauliflower, broccoli, onions and root parsley.
What does agri-tech mean to you?
I’m excited about the future of agriculture as a whole and digital technologies for sure will improve a lot of tasks we have in farming.
The biggest advantage I see is in semi-autonomous tractors (automated steering based on precise GPS signal) and precision irrigation.
What agri-tech do you use?
Digital management of product storage and cooling systems and full food chain digitisation from the farm gate. Precision farming – auto steering systems on tractors. We designed our own automated irrigation system and are developing AI based systems to help predict irrigation need.
How long have you been using it for?
For six years; since I started my agricultural business.

We extracted the keywords mentioned during our conversations and put them into a word cloud (below) to show which topics were common to all the farmers.

word cloud: the words mentioned most by the farmers were farm, field, farming, tractor, field, system

If you’re an arable farmer, please tell us about your farm and experiences with agri-tech in the comments section below.

© EIT Food
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Innovation in Arable Farming: Technologies for Sustainable Farming Systems

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