Agroscope, ENDURE's Swiss partner, has underlined its commitment to ‘Smart Farming’ with the conversion of its Tänikon site into the Swiss Future Farm, a joint project designed to stimulate “professional exchanges on concrete applications with farmers” and allowing Agroscope to investigate how new technologies can best be used in Swiss agriculture.
Introducing its approach to Smart Farming, Agroscope reports: “We have become accustomed to new technologies changing our lives in a wide variety of ways. Smartphone applications, satellite navigation, online retailing and cybergaming are just a few of the headwords illustrating this fact.
“With the concept of Smart Farming, a similar change is now also underway in agriculture. Agroscope’s aim is to increase the competitiveness of Swiss agriculture through the inclusion of smart-farming technologies by offering decision-making aids for practitioners, with the focus remaining on people in all cases.”
The Swiss Future Farm is a joint project in association with the canton of Thurgau in partnership with agricultural equipment specialists AGCO and GVS Agrar AG. The site will act as a demonstration farm for Smart Farming technologies and allow Agroscope to conduct research into these technologies.
For example, Agroscope will be developing the parameters that are relevant for decision-making as well as Decision Support Systems for agricultural practice, studying the influence of new technologies in terms of their economic, environmental and work-economic impacts and so determining the adoption and dissemination of these technologies, and refining technologies for use in practice.
Beyond the improvement of forecasting platforms with information and decision-making aids for the optimised application of plant protection products, Agroscope highlights a number of projects and technologies which are underway.
For example, trials are being conducted on automated irrigation systems which take into account soil moisture and plant parameters, a hot water method for the mechanical control of broad-leaved dock has been developed, and camera multicopters are being used to study the connection between the seasonal appearance of flowering wild plants and pollination activity in crops.
The Smart Farming section of Agroscope’s website also provides links to a couple of interesting articles about the potential of Smart Farming in IPM approaches. For example, there is an Outlook article in April’s Nature
by Anthony King, which includes news of robots and drones for precise pesticide applications and near-infrared imaging for weed identification.