Farming goes digital
Agricultural digitalization connects various processes and participants together through a wide range of information. Apart from farmers, the players include IT service providers, agricultural technology manufacturers, consultants and public administration. The benefits of using digital technology can be clearly seen in potential increases in sustainability and productivity, as well as reduced/streamlined labor.
Given the growth and complexity of requirements, as well as the growing demands of the market for product quality, the time it takes to find relevant information for agricultural processes is rising steadily. FarmExpert 4.0 shows how a wide range of up-to-date, and in particular readily-available expertise in the agricultural value chain, can be successfully achieved through the interaction of digitalization and independent advice, and turn into a competitive edge.
The focus of FarmExpert 4.0 is the development of a manufacturer-independent, digital advice platform that integrates a wide range of agricultural data from public and private institutes into a common basis of knowledge. With access to structured digital documents, farmers and their consultants can design a more efficient day-to-day farming operation.
The project also enables a basic strategy in order to make existing and future digital technologies systematically available in the agricultural industry.
For the application scenario, the scientists selected fertilizer calculations and developed a decision support system for the nitrogen fertilization of winter wheat crops. The system user interface shows the relevant and current technical information at a glance. In addition, individual operational and location data is analyzed in order to suggest the amount and time schedule for the fertilization process.
On the way to achieving this result, the scientists first developed a prototype decision support system that was evaluated with a model. Through surveys and in discussions with experts, farmers and advisors, the knowledge that was gained was then processed into machine-readable form, thus making the agricultural expertise universally processable and available to the entire digital network.
The fortiss scientists digitized and prepared the highly heterogeneous industry expertise into machine-readable form using various data sources, including analog sources. Semantic web technologies, which are considered trendsetting for the Internet of Things (IoT), are used to create the basis of data and develop the decision support system.
The FarmExpert 4.0 project successfully illustrated how information for farmers and advisors can be made available in digital form by bundling and linking the expertise in a meaningful way. The output from the project is for the first time opening the path to agricultural consulting in digital form.
Apart from the relevant information, the platform is also designed to provide government regulations, industry literature or farming data, including regional experiences and industry-specific expert knowledge from experienced consultants, and make it available to the users.
Farmers who are uncertain when making decisions for simple applications, or those who desire a confirmation of their approach, can call up formalized expertise using the decision support system. Personal contact with an agricultural consultant can be bypassed in this case.
fortiss developed a decision support system for farmers in collaboration with the Landeskuratorium für pflanzliche Erzeugung e.V. (LKP) and Weihenstephan-Triesdorf University (HSWT).
The goal of LKP, a leading agriculture consulting firm in Bavaria, is to raise the productivity and increase the profitability of farming operations through targeted advice and consulting. The consulting services are organized and carried out through the local producers (specialist groups).
The project was funded by the Bavarian State Ministry for Nutrition, Agriculture and Forestry (StMELF).