Radical change in arable farming means that by 2025 growers
are likely to be using digital advice tools, companies will sell complete crop
packages, and data will be driving the sector, Bayer said.
But this will mean embracing totally different technology
than that in use today, and big business will need to partner with people to
make it happen.
Speaking at Rabobank's F&A Next event at Wageningen
University in the Netherlands, Bayer's global head of digital farming Tobias
Menne said that the agrichemicals giant, which is acquiring Monsanto, was
always looking for new sources of data, as well as working with start-ups
generating such statistics.
The data would be a critical part of developing a "command
centre", he said.
'Not the answer'
This strategy was part of working towards a more
sophisticated approach to crop production.
"Pouring crop protection products on is not the answer
- anyone pushing volume is not the answer, we need something better," Mr Menne
He said Brazilian farmers were already using satellite
technology to help identify and treat resistant weeds, and at the other end of
the scale, a Bayer app for identifying pests and diseases, mainly in developing
countries, had become very popular even in countries such as France.
"By 2025 growers will be using a digital advice tool.
Selling advice at €5-10 a hectare is not going to be the next big thing."
He believes companies will be able to offer products which
"take the complexity out".
This would mean offering growers a package of weed and
pest-free crops for a lump sum per hectare, he said.
'A lot of buzzwords'
Separately, Bruno Melcher, a largest-scale Brazilian
farmer, told the event that while producers were continually being offered
tools billed as an aid to performance, these products were often not useful.
Mr Melcher - who farms 15,000 hectares in Brazil and is in
the board of a large farming operation in Eastern Europe – said that "there
are many things being brought to farmers, but they are not useable by farmers,"
adding that agriculture had become "a very complex system".
Farmers were faced with "a lot of buzzwords", which they had
only a limited time to learn.
"Say they farm for 30 years - that is only 30 chances to do
something, and then things such as the weather, varieties, diseases, change
"Farmers are super smart, and if you [developers]
cannot explain something in simple words, I can tell you it will not work.
"We see many data and technical products, yet 90% of all
crop losses are due to the weather."