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Digital agriculture, the italian boom

Public incentive tools are contributing to the growth of agriculture 4.0 in Italy. Between 2020 and 2021 the turnover of the digital market tripled, rewarding in particular expenditure on machines and equipment connected natively. As investments in 'smart' systems have grown, so has their spread: today 6% of the agricultural surface area is cultivated with smart technologies

by Giovanni M. Losavio
March/April 2022 | Back

The market for 4.0 machines and equipment is booming in Italy. In just 24 months, turnover in "smart" agro-mechanics has tripled, rising from 540 million euros in the first half of 2020 to 1.6 billion in 2021.

In short, despite the health emergency of the last two years, the digital agriculture sector is in perfect health. This is what emerges from the research "Smart agrifood: let's reap the benefits of digital innovation!", carried out by the Smart Agrifood Observatory of the School of Management of the Politecnico di Milano and the RISE Laboratory (Research & Innovation for Smart Enterprises) of the University of Brescia. Presented on 15 March in Milan, the report analyses in detail the phenomenon of digital agriculture in Italy and the boom recorded in the last two years.

According to the authors of the research, the market is driven mainly by expenditure on agricultural machinery and equipment that is natively connected (47% of the total 4.0 market), and by expenditure on monitoring and control systems applicable to agricultural machinery and after-sale equipment (35%). The explosion of investments in 'digital' has also led to significant growth in the spread and use of new technologies. In 2021, 60% of Italian farmers used at least one 4.0 solution (+4% compared to 2020) and more than four out of ten used at least two, particularly management software and machinery monitoring and control systems. Also in 2021, the agricultural area cultivated with 4.0 machines reached 6% of the total, doubling compared to the previous year.

The digital technology "race" does not appear to be stopping, since, according to the research of the Smart Agrifood Observatory, a substantial share of farms (26% of the total) plans to invest in "smart" technologies in the short and medium term. In this perspective, public incentive tools are making a significant contribution to the sector’s expansion and, consequently, to the innovation of agricultural practice. "Market growth," reads the report, "is being driven by incentives, in particular Rural Development Programmes and Transition 4.0 Plan benefits: three quarters of farms have used at least one Agriculture 4.0 incentive and 84% claim they have had a decisive impact on their investment choices."

According to the report’s authors, the system of incentives still has some room for improvement, especially in terms of bureaucratic simplification and greater responsiveness to the needs of farms.

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