Agro 4.0: Experts discuss advances in digitizing the field
In a country that owns farms of the size of Belgium, agribusiness is a mandatory and especially urgent discussion among all the involved actors. Agribusiness accounts for 33% of GDP and 42% of Brazil's total exports, generating around 37% of all jobs nationwide.
Aligned with the revolution in the industrial sector, the agrarian sector is also inserted in the processes of automation, artificial intelligence, Internet of Things and use of new technologies, leading to the so-called Agro 4.0. "Smaller machines that generate less soil compaction and use solar panel technology", as exemplified by Tatiana Prado, BASF's Digital Business Consultant.
Discussing these new technologies and their repercussions in the segment, was the main objective of the Agro 4.0 Workshop – The Digitalization in the Field, held last Monday (August 13th) at the Transatlantic Club, in São Paulo. The event was promoted by the Fraunhofer Liaison Office Brazil, in partnership with the Innovation Area of the Brazil-Germany Chamber and the German Center for Science and Innovation São Paulo - DWIH São Paulo.
The event had several approaches on the subject, from the perspective of government and industry, to research and development institutions, as well from the StartUps view. The presentations of MCTIC, FAPESP, EMBRAPA, Fraunhofer IESE, BASF, Datacoper and of tha Startups MVISIA, IAgro and TNS Nanotechnology, have brought into the discussion the new technological processes and innovations that arrive every day faster in the field, as well as how the bilateral initiatives, in particular between Brazil and Germany, can contribute to an effective exchange of experiences for both sides.
"The Brazil-Germany Chamber supports initiatives like this because it believes in the potential of digitizing the field and in the development it will bring to Brazil," said Thomas Timm, Executive Vice President of AHK São Paulo, in his opening address. He also commented on the challenge that agriculture will face to feed 9 billion people in 2050. "Brazil and Argentina will feed the world and iIt is fundamental to create a sense of urgency for this issue, as this is Brazil's competitive advantage in the future", he concluded.
Launched on December 2017, the Pro-Future Plan of the Ministry of Science, Technology, Innovations and Communications (MCTIC), points towards the country's advances in the sector. Eliana Emediato, General Coordinator of Technological Services of the Secretary for Technological Development and Innovation (SETEC), listed the five challenges outlined in the plan: Technology, Human Capital, Production Chains, Infrastructure and Regulation.
In his presentation, Emediato highlighted the launch of a pilot project of R,D & I (Research, Development & Innovation) network for advanced manufacturing in agribusiness and a technological bonus call and scholarships for solutions in advanced manufacturing. Aimed at micro and small companies, the project provides grants of up to R$ 30,000 for the development of pilots. "All these initiatives will converge in the creation of the Brazilian Chamber of Industry 4.0, whose objective is to introduce Brazilian companies and industries into the ecosystem of the 4th Industrial Revolution", she explained.
Fraunhofer's IESE approach showed the technological trends of Agro 4.0, mainly stand-alone machines, artificial intelligence, big data and blockchain, illustrating how the Fraunhofer Society has addressed these four major topics. As an example, a support platform developed by Fraunhofer IESE for Intelligent Systems (Safety Supervisor) was mentioned, which makes a dynamic technological risk control. Also mentioned was a 100% autonomous cucumber harvester, developed by Fraunhofer IPK. In his presentation, Dr.-Ing. Pablo Oliveira Antonino, Head of the Department of Embedded Software Engineering of Fraunhofer IESE, also drew attention to the new social configuration that Agro 4.0 will provide: "The German government has taken initiatives to receive these people who will be out of the market, with relocations through new skills. "
The presentation of Fraunhofer IESE was enriched with the participation of John Deere, one of the institute's great partners. The success case presented by Alex Foessel, Director of the John Deere Center for Technological Innovation, showed that the company reduced the application of chemicals by about 90% from the use of intelligent systems that effectively identify weeds and other pests. "More than grain collectors, our machines are data collectors. And these advances not only make agriculture more competitive, but also bring more security to the environment”, he said.
The Workshop was fundamental developed to exemplify for all the scientific, technological and business community that the agricultural sector in this digital area, is going through such a strong evolution - even faster than the industry, and that, besides all the other important actors, Brazilian startups play a fundamental role in this process of technological revolution. "Although we have many startups involved with the Agro 4.0 theme, not everyone knows the details of these technologies, such as monitoring, pest acknowledgments, drones, robots or automatic tractors, and the event could provide this acquaintance. "