Farmers globally expect use of AI: Continental survey report – ET Auto

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In Germany, France and the U.S., about 13% of farmers do not use digital technologies, while in Brazil it is only one in twenty (5%).

The level of digitalization on farms around the world varies widely. While some farms already rely on technologies such as artificial intelligence, the use of drones or robotics, others are still insufficiently digitalized. These are the findings of the “Agriculture in transition” study, which Continental conducted together with the market research institute Innofact AG in fall 2023.

In all 503 farmers from five countries were asked about their daily work, their concerns and challenges. Digital solutions support farmers in the necessary transformation towards sustainable and efficient agriculture. Precision farming is a good example. It uses GPS, sensors and data analysis to more precisely manage resources such as fertilizer, water and pesticides. This optimizes field management, protects the soil, and increases farm efficiency, value, and sustainability.

“We are currently experiencing a profound change in agriculture, driven primarily by connectivity, robotics and artificial intelligence. At the end of this transformation, agriculture will not only be more efficient, but also more environmentally friendly. We see the potential to transform the entire value chain. The results of our ‘Agriculture in transition’ study show that farmers also see this potential. Our goal is to work closely with farmers to strategically harness technological advances to make agriculture more resilient to climate change,” says Ismail Dagli, Head of the Autonomous Mobility and Commercial Vehicles business unit at Continental.Different stages of digital transformation: The majority of respondents are currently using digital solutions. 79% already use such technologies today, and more than two-thirds of farmers say that digitalization plays a rather relevant role in their daily work (71%). Nevertheless, there are major differences between regions and company sizes.

In Germany, France and the U.S., about 13% of farmers do not use digital technologies, while in Brazil it is only one in twenty (5%). In Japan, however, around 60% of respondents state that they carry out their agricultural work without digital applications.

This also has an impact on the level of satisfaction with the digitalization of one’s own farm. In an international comparison, Japanese farmers are the least satisfied with their level of digitalization. Around 77% of them state that they do not use enough technologies (international average: 37%). German farmers, on the other hand, appear to be the most satisfied with the extent to which digital technologies are used on their farms. About two-thirds (67%) say they use just the right amount (international average: 54%). These results make it clear: regardless of whether respondents are currently satisfied with their use of technology or not, the road to the digital farm is still a long one.

This is also confirmed by the size of the farm. In general, the smaller the farm, the less digitized it is. On farms with less than 50 hectares of land, about 20% say they do not use any digital technologies. The figure is 12% for farms between 100 and 200 hectares, and ten% for farms over 200 hectares.

Among those using digital technologies, a look at the level of digitalization also reveals big differences: While many farmers have already implemented solutions such as apps and GPS-controlled agricultural machinery (apps: 45%, GPS-controlled agricultural machinery: 41%) and almost one in three farmers (30%) use satellite images, the use of robotics (13%) and artificial intelligence (10%) is less widespread. However, the use of drones is already becoming more popular: More than one in four farmers (27%) use drones, primarily to analyze land from the air.

AI applications expected to triple: There is no question that the use of digital applications will increase. However, the digital gap is likely to widen. About one in four farmers (24%) still have no concrete idea what technologies will be used on their farm in the future. “Farmers around the world are facing increasing challenges: growing demand for food, increasing regulations, and visible effects of climate change. In addition to politicians, who can set the framework, it is also up to technology suppliers to meet these demands with durable and environmentally friendly technologies,” explains Mario Branco, Head of Off-Highway at Continental.

On the other hand, technologies that are not widely used today will become more important: One-fifth (20%) of farmers who are not using robotics today expect to do so within the next five to ten years. By then, one-third of farmers would be using robotic solutions. This represents an increase of 138% – more than a doubling. The%age is particularly high in Germany (28%), the U.S. (27%) and Brazil (24%). Expectations are lowest in Japan, at 9%.

A similar trend is seen in artificial intelligence, where farmers predict even greater growth. Respondents expect this number to triple in the next five to ten years. While an average of 10% of respondents is using AI today, an additional 19% expect to begin using AI during this time period. Only Germany and Brazil have higher%ages at 26% (Germany) and 25% (Brazil). The U.S. on the contrary has the lowest expectations, at around 13%.

“In the coming years, many farmers will significantly increase their use of artificial intelligence and robotics to make their operations more efficient and environmentally friendly, including the use of pesticides and herbicides. This will fundamentally change the way farming is done, from precise soil analysis to automated harvesting to intelligent yield prediction. We are already making an important contribution with our greenhouse robotic solution and our new herbicide-free Weed Control System. At the same time, we at Continental are supporting our customers in every step of the implementation to ensure that they can fully benefit from the potential of these technologies,” says Mario Branco, Head of Off-Highway at Continental.

Role of technology companies: The study proves: Farmers need strong partners for change. When asked what (additional) services from technology companies would help them, 43% p of respondents said more user-friendly technologies. 37% are interested in training courses on the usability of technologies provided, while 31% would like to see data presented in an understandable way.

  • Published On Mar 19, 2024 at 10:33 AM IST

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