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Agro 4.0, the keys and advantages of adopting it today

Inteligencia Artificial en la Agricultura

The digital transformation of the productive sectors is a global process, in a context where it is essential to have online data that helps improve decision-making within a company. This allows projecting scenarios, reducing costs, and improving competitiveness in the markets. That is why adopting agro 4.0 is essential for the agricultural world.

Those producers who join this technological revolution will have advantages over their peers, and will have better tools to face an increasingly complicated scenario. Factors associated with climate change, the Covid 19 pandemic, the ups and downs of the world economy and green practices on the care of the Planet must be overcome.

colored cubes with technology items and the word Industry 4.0. Industry 4.0 infographic.
colored cubes with technology items and the word Industry 4.0. Industry 4.0 infographic.

Agriculture 4.0 supposes a comprehensive view of the agricultural process. Through the use of information technologies and data analysis, a more efficient management of resources, improvements in the quality of the final product, and cost reduction are achieved. In addition, practices that contribute to protecting the environment are encouraged.

Through artificial intelligence, precision agriculture, big data, data analytics, IoT (Internet of Things) sensors and applied robotics, scenarios can be anticipated and predicted. Processes are also optimized, productivity increases, production costs decrease in aspects such as the use of raw materials, water efficiency and agrochemicals.

The advantages of using these revolutionary technologies are many, but unfortunately Latin America does not escape the world scene, where the adoption of these innovations is still very slow.

“Technologies 4.0. they are still little used in the agri-food sector of the region, especially among small producers or family farmers. Information about the availability of this type of technology is very scarce, there are no reliable cost/benefit analyses, and the digital skills of producers and technical staff are very limited. There are also many types of gaps that make it difficult for smaller farms to access digital technologies. And despite all this, the digitalization process of regional agriculture is underway, redefining production models and relationships between actors, within agribusiness chains. There are risks, but there are also opportunities”, indicates an ECLAC report published in September 2021.

How to make the leap to agriculture 4.0

Christian Correa, director of the Field Robotics Laboratory of the University of Concepción, and on the occasion of the recent AgroTech Maule 2021 meeting, gave some tips for farmers who decide to venture into agriculture 4.0 for the first time.

  1. Identify the problem you have and see how it has been solved in Chile and other parts of the world.
  2. If this technology exists, see if there are national suppliers and if not, approach the universities to state that one has a problem that has been identified, that there is a product that solves it and see how to implement it, or resort to local developments of the same study houses.

It is a good working formula, but not the only one. It is also possible to consider adding new technology as a result of the internal work of an area of ​​the company, which is focused on research, development and implementation or in collaboration with other specialists or national or foreign technology providers.

Taking available technologies seriously has led to competitive advantages for various companies worldwide.

For example in Frutexsa, a leading company in Chile in nuts, we have implemented various technologies that guide it on the correct path of modern times. In the first place, 2 years ago, he incorporated SAP to its operations, absorbing the best practices worldwide to its processes, jointly developed solutions for SAP in terms of production, quality and foreign trade according to the needs of the company. Along with this, Business Intelligence technology is already available to accelerate data compression and analysis.

In terms of agro-industrial processes, laser and infrared equipment are already used, which allows the fruit to be selected precisely. The implementation of a SCADA system that allows the machines to be connected to the systems and to know online what is happening with the fruit processing area, in terms of speed, temperature, etc., is also being completed. This will enable a pilot that works to add Artificial Intelligence to the processes in order to be more accurate with the use and treatment of the fruit, based on what is learned automatically.

This year, satellite technology was also incorporated to analyze crop data, thus obtaining critical data on water resources and the health status of plants.

Chile prepares its roadmap for 2030

It is currently in the validation phase study que encargó la Foundation for Agricultural Innovation,  which depends on the Ministry of Agriculture and which will serve as the basis for preparing the technological roadmap for the National Development of Agriculture 4.0 program.

This is a correct measure that seeks to build a technological bridge towards those small and medium-sized farmers who are currently far from an area that will set a trend in the coming years, as a result of climate change. Those who do not join will run the risk of suffering penalties in markets with increasingly sustainable and sustainable parameters.

The joint work between the State, universities, technology centers, specialists and suppliers will be key, and that they carry out agro 4.0 projects that deliver solutions with friendly interfaces with the rural world.

It will be of little use that there are cutting-edge technological solutions, if they do not consider criteria of usability and design, thinking of those who will use these solutions on a daily basis. The truth is that several levels of information flow and analysis can coexist, but all are interconnected and grounded in that, for example, the irrigation characteristics can be modified from a tablet or a cell phone, without the need for the rural user to spend hours in front of to a computer and without understanding the data in front of it.

The concrete measures that CEPAL will take

In this same line, the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (CEPAL) will support the productive transition towards a more sustainable and efficient agriculture in the region, in a task in which it will have key alliances with the National Institute of Agricultural Technology ( INTA-Argentina), the National Institute for Agricultural Research (INIA-Chile), the National Institute for Agricultural Research (INIA-Uruguay) and also the Institute for Research and Agrifood Technology (IRTA-Catalonia, Spain).

Además, la Cepal se asociará  con empresas privadas y con la Red de Jóvenes Latinoamericanos Lideres en Biotecnología ALL BIOTEC, YPARD y otras redes nacionales de jóvenes que provienen del mundo rural.

What is the point of all this? It's very simple. On the one hand, the creation of networks of actors to collaborate in the formulation of policies that allow expanding the development and adoption of digital technologies in the agricultural sector in Latin America, especially among small producers.

Improving the information available on the potential and bottlenecks in the adoption of digital technologies in regional agriculture.

The creation of opportunities for entrepreneurship led by rural youth, as well as the exchange of good practices and collaboration between European and Latin American countries, and also between the countries of the region that are most advanced in the adoption of agriculture 4.0, and those that have recently take their first steps in this field.

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