Digital innovation, a strong theme at EIMA 2021
Agriculture 4.0 and latest-generation technologies in the spotlight at the Bologna exhibition, where EIMA Digital is reporting growing interest. There are many meetings promoted by institutions, research bodies and publishing houses
The EIMA international exhibition has grown into a significant showcase for electronics used in agricultural mechanization. Besides the traditional 14 product sectors, the EIMA Digital exhibition, specialized in technologies and equipment for precision agriculture and 4.0 information systems, is gaining increasing importance. The presence of such a dedicated thematic space has been the driving force behind a rich program of conferences, workshops and training events. These initiatives have deepened the knowledge of the most advanced solutions and the issues related to the diffusion of new technologies in agricultural firms.
Company size and sector of activity are the main factors influencing the propensity of agricultural and agro-mechanical companies to invest in "green" technologies. This is the result of an analysis conducted by the Institute of Science and Technology for Energy and Sustainable Mobility of the National Research Council (CNR-Stems) in collaboration with the Department of Education Sciences (DsF) of the University of Roma Tre, L'Informatore Agrario and FederUnacoma, whose results were presented at the conference entitled "Green investments, the orientation of farms and contractors". The meeting, attended by Antonio Boschetti (L'Informatore Agrario), Eugenio Cavallo and Giorgia Bagagiolo (CNR_Stems), Federica Caffaro (University of Roma Tre), was held in the setting of EIMA International, the world exhibition of machinery for agriculture and gardening held in Bologna. The survey, involving a sample of more than 450 companies, revealed a greater willingness to invest in "green" technologies on the part of more structured companies operating in sectors such as the livestock sector, where the issue of pollution is felt with greater urgency, or in the fruit and vegetable sector for which the sustainability of production represents added value. About half of the sample (46%) - it was explained during the meeting - is willing to invest more than 10,000 euros in technologies aimed at preserving natural resources, rationalising production factors, enhancing the energy value of agricultural biomasses, and reducing polluting emissions and energy consumption. A minority but still significant share of the companies surveyed (7.4%) could invest up to 100,000 euros to limit the impact of their agricultural activity on the environment and climate. The issue of sustainability - stressed MEP Paolo De Castro during a discussion panel held at the end of the conference - is very much on the minds of citizens and agriculture seems destined to reconcile productivity and the environmental impact of crops. Alessandro Malavolti, president of FederUnacoma, stressed that many advanced technologies for input reduction are already available on the market and can contribute substantially to the sustainability of the primary sector. The presentation of the analysis carried out by Informatore Agrario was not the only in-depth technical event, which saw numerous initiatives dedicated to the most advanced technologies for the digitalisation of the primary sector. One particulary interesting workshop was "Facilitation for agriculture 4.0 focus on tax credit 4.0 and Sabatini" which, promoted by Assist Consulting, turned the spotlight on the subsidy systems for investments in the purchase of machinery and high-tech systems for the primary sector. A technical conference entitled "Smart Farming and Innovation Brokering" was organised by Agia/CIA which, on this subject, also promoted the meeting entitled "The role of technological innovation in agriculture to support soil care in production processes". 4.0 technologies were the focus of the workshop "Agricultural mechanisation and ecological transition", organised by ENEA/Itabia, and the Agrivol conference "From robotics to agriculture 4.0". Still on the subject of agriculture and digitalization, the fourth day of EIMA International saw the event entitled "Efficient farm management: digitalizing with xFarm".
Innovations at the service of precision agriculture were also the focus of other meetings, including the conference on "Implement 4.0: digital technologies to increase productivity and safety and reduce the environmental impact of agricultural production", promoted by Agia/Cia. Space for training with "Agriculture 4.0: profitable use of Canbus and Isobus data", organized by the University of Bologna as part of "EIMA Campus", the space dedicated to university training organized in collaboration with the AIIA agricultural engineering association and various Italian universities; while in-depth studies on the theme of "Sustainable precision irrigation" - an event organized by Irritec - and "Remote control of machinery: a technology within everyone's reach?" - promoted by Edagricole - further enriched the knowledge of the most advanced digital technologies for cultivation practices. The meeting on "Precision feeding: the ReCCo service for the milk chain", organised by Rural Set, examined new innovative services, while EIMA Campus and the University of Florence made a contribution to training on "Protocols for the optimised management and organisation of data in digital agriculture". Last but not least, the event "Young people and digital: the agriculture of the future from the CAP to the Farm2Fork strategy", with the presentation of the ParteciPac project by Image Line.
A new tool to measure environmental sustainability
In the wake of the race to digitalisation for 4.0 agriculture, a new tool has now been launched - for smartphones, tablets and personal computers - that allows companies to measure the environmental impact of their activities, to take action to improve performance, and to make comparisons between the various companies that make up the supply chain. "A tool designed to give companies in the sector the chance to intervene in the right place and at the right time with a view to sustainability," explains Camilla Comaschi, Product & Sustainability manager at XFarm. The company, which has two branches in Switzerland and Lombardy, presented the technological innovation at EIMA, the international agricultural machinery exhibition, during the meeting promoted by Cia on “Data and sustainability: how agriculture 4.0 supports food supply chains”. The tool responds not only to the need of companies to keep their impact on the environment under control, but also to the objective of raising awareness of all the links in the chain. The assessment of C02 emissions is made with calculations that are not based on estimates but on primary data and all the evidence obtained in this way is processed analytically. The tool indicates the amount of greenhouse gases produced, potential soil acidification, eutrophication, net water consumption. In this way, for each individual activity, the entrepreneur can have immediate feedback on the impact of the various production phases and an annual report on the improvement of the measures taken to reduce polluting emissions.