It is often not possible to clearly quantify the direct benefits or economic advantages of digital technologies in crop protection. However, a comparison of area spraying, weed detection and "spot spraying" in sugar beet and rapeseed reveals the possible applications and potentials of the methods.
Agriculture, with its many uncertainties, is a grateful field of application for new technologies. We have been talking about digitalisation for a long time, now artificial intelligence and robotics are being added.
We all know the adage, "you are what you eat" - how healthy eating and nutritious food result in us being healthy, well-nourished humans. But, maintaining the nutrient quality of our food, throughout a complex food supply-chain, is far from a straightforward task.
Bioeconomy is the buzzword of the day when it comes to sustainability. More and more companies are therefore also turning to renewable raw materials in the mass market for plastics. What is it all about, and what role does agriculture play?
It is precisely because of insect protection that chemical plant protection is more and more on the sidelines. Great hopes now rest on RNAi, a biotechnological revolution. Smallest pieces of RNA could have the same effect as chemical pesticides today.
We are living in an era of seismic challenges. Our global food system faces stresses it’s never seen before - from the climate crisis, population growth and fractured supply chains – but might these shocks to our system be a catalyst for positive change?
Using the extract of clover grass as a source of protein for organic chickens? The idea is not as crazy as it sounds at first. After all, high-quality protein is becoming a scarce commodity. A pilot plant is already operating on a farm in Denmark.
Not only the vectors of malaria or sleeping sickness, but also plant pests can be controlled by "self-destruction". The methods of genome editing are now giving new impetus; this alternative to insecticides is not just a matter of science, at least in Europe.
The CO2 levies not only make diesel and other fuels significantly more expensive. In the long term, raw materials, especially fertilizers, will also become more expensive. And processors will also face additional costs, which they will likely pass on to consumers.
In the USA, around 6.5 million hectares of agricultural land have disappeared from the statistics since 2013/14. What has happened to these soils? And importantly for the market, can they be quickly brought back into use if needed?
Imported soy in animal feed is often criticized. So why not produce a high-quality protein feed on farms and, best of all, use it to recycle waste? That's the concept of a Munich-based start-up.
In vitro meat will replace conventionally produced schnitzel, burgers, sausages and the like on supermarket shelves in the coming years. The important difference to plant-based substitute products: Lab-grown meat is real meat!
Climate change has many aspects! There is increasing drought, radiation and heat stress, but also the increase in heat-loving pests. How can you counter these risks? Sven Böse, Saaten Union, explains what cereal growers can do.
At first glance, voluntary CO2 certificates for humus build-up are a lucrative approach to rewarding farmers' climate protection efforts. A second look makes one more sceptical, because the conditions are more difficult to fulfil than expected. Moreover, not all certificates contribute to climate protection.
Sorghum is still in the shadow of maize in Europe. Yet it is very valuable from both a crop production and an ecological point of view. Especially under the changing climatic and political conditions, sorghum is a real and large-scale alternative in Central European agriculture.
Especially in difficult times, it pays to remain optimistic without looking at everything through the proverbial rose-coloured glasses. But how do you manage to focus on the positive aspects?
It is often the small differences that cause the greatest resentment: Why are farmers in neighbouring countries allowed to do what I am not? There are indeed annoying examples. But the most important thing is that differences are well justified. This can sometimes be doubted.
Long term yield trends are still positive. But after several unspectacular harvests and increasing input restrictions, fears for the future increase. Have we reached the limits of yield increase? And anyway, will yield alone be the right way of measuring crop success in future?
When we think of Brexit, we are relieved that Brussels and London have reached a last-mile agreement. A hard Brexit has been averted and trade will remain tariff-free. But the product standards are much more decisive says Prof Dr Martin Banse.
Politics and society want less chemicals used in crop protection. And while weed control can see herbicides replaced by mechanical operations, there’s no simple answer to other applications. What role could biologicals or new formulations play in this respect? And what other possibilities do we have?
This South American country increasingly aims its meat output at the export market. Even now, the meat from every fourth pig or beef animal produced there is destined for abroad, with the trend set to continue right through 2021.
Normally, trees are not very welcome in arable fields. But cleverly integrated with crop growing or livestock production systems they can bring many advantages. Read on to learn about some of the solutions offered by agroforestry systems.
The aim of achieving as many piglets as possible per litter often means a poor start in life for some of them. This presents a problem, not only in terms of profitability, but also of animal welfare and pig production’s public image.
Stockpiled worldwide is about 40 % of global annual requirement for wheat, 28 % for maize and 25 % for sugar. But what proportion of these reserves are available to purchasing countries? And who stores this ware? Here we sort out the respective figures for you.
The debate over the »Green Deal« applies to farm machinery too. Industry and institutes have long been working with methane - or fuel cells and batteries for electric drive. But what’s the best way ahead? There’s still no sign of the right direction and here’s why.
Before the corona crisis, telemedicine was seen as a project for the future. But lockdown pulled digital communication for vets right into focus Europe-wide and now this market is developing full speed ahead – although some countries, Germany for example, are lagging behind the leaders.
A conference for pig farmers organized by the DLG and EPP took place in Moscow this year. It was embedded in the technical program of Agros 2020, a new international DLG exhibition for animal and feed production in Russia, and was carried out in cooperation with the National Union of Pig Breeders. The conference highlighted traceability and transparency as a tool to secure export markets for pork.
Subclinical ketosis is an »occupational hazard« for the dairy cow. Stefan Freuen has studied the disease intensively in his herd. He describes his monitoring methods and discusses the influences on cow performance and production lifetime.
Each year the EU buys-in 33 m t of soya meal and soybeans from third countries of which around 6 m t lands in Germany. Where does this ware come from – and can soya grown in the EU ever be competitive with it?
Many characteristics relevant to animal welfare, such as boar taint or piglet mortality, have a genetic component and can be influenced through boar selection. Still the exception, however, is clear designation of appropriate breeding values.
In travelling to different countries and different agricultural exhibitions one frequently sees country specific differences for farming practices. But especially on the subject of climate change and the implications for agricultural production it could be reasonable to bundle activities.
Optimal work routines save time and effort. Moderate on-farm spares and input inventories tie up less capital. Staff given responsibility are more proactive in their work planning. Such advice is part and parcel of so-called »lean management«, a technique for activating the unused potential still slumbering in many farm businesses.
Overfishing, pollution and climate change impact fish populations the world over. Natural fishery results reflect this with annual catch increases lessening year after year. But in response there are very rapid production increases in aquaculture, producing ware selling particularly well in Europe.
Insects are seen as attractive future protein sources. So far, though, there’s no tried and trusted large-scale production concept: a situation North-Rhine Westphalia entrepreneurs Dirk Wessendorf, Martin Ewering and Günter Wielens aim to change soon.
It’s often maintained that breeding for large litters leads to shorter productive lives for the sows. But high fertility and long-year production do not rule each other out. Steffen Hoy and Birgitt Hameister have the evidence.
More transparency, better prices and above all less labour input: all this is promised by the new agri-trading platforms currently shooting out of the ground like mushrooms. Is this the beginning of the end for the classic farm supply outlets? Or are new marketing opportunities opening-up here for farmers and local traders?
The immediate area of soil around plant roots – the so-called rhizosphere – still belongs to the »great unknown« areas of plant research. Better understanding of the microbiome functions might open opportunities for precise actions in the distant future.
So far, new breeding methods (»CRISPR/Cas«) have represented a golden future for crop production, offering plant breeding progress with unbeatable price-performance value. But recent research at ETH (Swiss Technical University) in Zurich indicates the CRISPR/Cas »gene shear« has its limitations.
Participants attending last year’s European Dairy Farmers Congress in Denmark learnt all about efficiently managed dairy farms that had undergone substantial expansion and delivered impressive milk production performances. Here are three examples.
Excellent locational and climatic conditions and high production performance are all synonymous with dairy land Denmark. On the other hand, costs for labour and land are high, farm businesses depend to a great extent on outside capital and society demands on the sector continue to rise.
In Germany, opinions tend to differ sharply on the theme »agriculture and biodiversity«. Especially farmers plead for a strict separation, with intensive agriculture here and nature protection there.
Earlier this year, scientists and farmers joined a DLG-Mitteilungen workshop on aspects of crop rooting. How can this aspect of plant development be encouraged for better and, above all, more stable yields? The discussion, reported below, offers expert answers to important questions.
Climate change, government policies and export market access are all important factors influencing the worldwide beef market. Even events at the other end of the world have an influence on the way the beef markets in our own countries develop.
Important parts of central European society have a massive interest in the welfare of animals. Whether this concern is based on the necessary factual knowledge is quite another matter – an attitude that unfortunately continues in subsequent communication.
Interest grows in new methods that might improve crop production. But many of them still need considerable research, for instance the use of biostimulators. Mycorrhization is an aspect of the latter. What can this offer crop growers?
If there’s one country that has taken the EU Water Framework Directive especially seriously for a considerable time now, it’s certainly Denmark. The main reason for this was, and still is, the critical condition of the Baltic Sea.
Output of agricultural products and their trade steams on the world markets appear at first complex and hard to follow. But global trade patterns tend to repeat themselves and follow fixed rules. Those who understand this can then appreciate many developments or even anticipate them.
For the first time in the almost 30-year history of the association, the Managing Board of the European Pig Producers (EPP) e.V. met in Finland last year. In addition to working through the agenda, a visit to a pig farm and a large slaughterhouse and a consulting company were scheduled. As a result, the members of the managing board were able to familiarise themselves with the special aspects of pork production in Finland "from farm to fork".
Why is it that fact-based arguments have limited chance against the power of imagery in the realm of persuasion – and can the agricultural sector learn from this to improve its own communication?
Everyone speaks about it but hardly anyone knows what exactly lies behind blockchain technology. Already clear, however, is that it can enable greater transparency within the agricultural delivery chain. And the data involved cannot be manipulated. Here’s how the blockchain concept functions.
The extreme conditions in 2017 and 2018 once again emphasised just how unpredictable weather and climate have become. What if such »exceptional years« become standard? How can farms prepare for such conditions?
Chemical seed treatment is the simplest and safest procedure. But if this approach is no longer effective and the active ingredients therefore wasted, what then? Physical and biological alternatives have their limitations. But the so-called »Swedish model« offers a very promising approach.
Milk production in Ireland is right on-course for continued expansion. Following a substantial increase last year, there’s every sign that progress will be maintained in 2019, particularly as conditions for this remain ideal.
Global grain trade patterns have changed radically in the last ten years. No longer is the USA unchallenged as »bread-basket of the world«. Catching up fast as top grain suppliers are Ukraine, Russia and Brazil. EU exports are also affected – at least for wheat.
The inaugural appearance of representatives from the South African Pork Producers’ Organisation (SAPPO) at the 2018 EPP Congress in Switzerland recently prompted a three-day reciprocal visit by the EPP to the Johannesburg/Praetoria region.
The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has spoken: new breeding techniques around the CRISPR/Cas procedure will come under gene technology, as far as the law is concerned. While the court’s decision imparts long overdue legal certainty, it’s also the starting gun for a flood of very difficult questions.
It was a vision to begin with. Dutch poultry farmer and university lecturer Ruud Zanders searched the world for a carbon-neutral egg production system. Early-on, it became clear that this vision would greatly profit from Nijsen-Granico’s “food for feed” concept. Another identified requirement was animal housing designed to supply all required energy for ventilation, lighting, etc. Zanders formed a partnership with three other businessmen and named the company Kipster.
Here’s an overall concept involving farmer, feed miller, food processor and retailer all working together. The aim: production of welfare-based and environmentally-friendly high-quality food. The concept has already started in the Netherlands where one of the first projects features egg and chicken meat production.
The present EU agricultural policy (CAP) applies until 2020. But if EU Commission proposals for the period 2021 to 2027 are followed, we’ll still be meeting old acquaintances then including capping and degressive payments or risk management through insurances. But what exactly might be new?
»Toss your preconceptions overboard«. Here’s a socialist country that’s not behind the times and neither corrupt nor poverty ridden. Although on mainly poor soils, its agriculture remains productive thanks to a well-managed planned economy.
Ripp‘s Dairy Valley is a family business run by brothers Chuck, Gary and Troy Ripp and their families. Stocking is 980 cows, 880 of them milked three times daily. Labour force: 18 workers including eight milkers.
Spiralling starch production is taking place in Europe’s south and west, particularly from wheat and maize. This affects traditional price differences between inland and coastal grain markets.
Over the last five years or so, Dutch pig producers have faced massively increased competition. There are many reasons for this, but a prominent role is played by the problems of manure disposal.
Advisers know it. Farm business comparisons show it. The biggest influence on farm results is the farmer’s entrepreneurial spirit. Increasing output through more fields and more livestock is not the only way ahead. So what else do modern farmers need for business success?
Pig farming is an important and significant industry in the global agricultural and food sector. A decisive factor for the increase in global demand for high-quality food in the past two decades was the demographic development.
Nutrition. A flood of currently published books claims wheat is bad for health. But too often the respective authors ignore or misinterpret the cereal’s scientifically proven benefits: an approach that does more harm to humans who really suffer from wheat-caused diseases.
In a research project that had been running for five years at Linköping University, Sweden, the entry of unmanned aircraft technology and sensors in global agriculture has been studied. Per Frankelius ranks the use of unmanned aircraft technology in parity with the satellite revolution or other earlier agricultural developments.
Protein strategies or »homegrown protein« – these are the terms when talk is of substitutes for imported soymeal such as peas, field beans or rapeseed meal. But more than half the protein in European feed troughs is already EU-produced, particularly from grain.
In Spain a couple of advantages help competitiveness in this sector. Not – as often claimed – laxer environment protection rules. But instead, efficiency right along the production chain and a positive public image.
The right investments in West-Africa are those for the local market. It’s the imports and exports that give a company troubles. And the local market is big enough. Moreover: West-Africa is one enormous market.
The movement that sees increasing concentration of companies in the agrochemical sector has more than a few farmers bemused. Among the reasons for the mergers and takeovers are the huge costs of developing new products. But could this revolution also be opening new perspectives in the markets?
Since the mid-1980s, Chinese farmer organisations play an increasingly important role, a development strongly supported by the July 2007 introduction of the “Law on Specialised Farmers Cooperatives”.
Raising capital. Got a brilliant business idea? But no starting capital? Maybe you should consider crowdfunding? Credit providers in the Internet invest in projects, ideas or companies – in agriculture too.
Harvest yields. The larger wheat harvests throughout the world are only the product of the crop’s increased yield capacities and not through expansion of growing area. This sort of situation increases harvest risks – but also the chances of higher prices. This applies even more so for barley.
Polders. Normally, soil is seen as simply the basis for growing crops. But now and again in the Netherlands one gets the impression that soil is a special substrate widely adaptable for a range of requirements.
The Netherlands. The efforts involved in wresting polder land from nature have been huge. And because polder soil is fertile, scarce and therefore expensive, it’s intensively farmed. Here, we present three outstanding farming businesses in the northeastern polder and Flevopolder.