“We are facing the next stage in the agricultural revolution”
Interview with Dr. Josef Bosch, FarmFacts
Dr. Josef Bosch is the Managing Director of FarmFacts GmbH, a subsidiary of BayWa. FarmFacts is a pioneer in digital farming and is a partner of the Farm&Food 4.0 Conference. We spoke with Dr. Josef Bosch about the opportunities and hurdles of digitalisation in agriculture.
What specific opportunities does digitalisation offer for agriculture?
Dr. Josef Bosch: “Digitalisation offers the chance to trigger the next stage of a revolution, as with the invention of mineral fertilisers, the tractor or breeding. It represents a significant new quality criteria for agricultural work.”
Why do high-tech and ecology fit together so well?
“Ecology is a science that is all about maintaining a balance. Digitalisation is a scientific method to explore and control this balance. It isn’t speculated or politicised but is about facts and scientific findings that can be applied within digital solutions. The results become predictable. This increases the success rate that we have in nature enormously, as we move from ‘assumed correct actions’ to correct actions.”
Where do we stand today and what obstacles must we overcome when applying digital solutions on the fields and in the stalls?
“The worst obstacle is in our heads. You have to take a new step. Digitalisation will turn many areas of agriculture upside down. I compare it to the switch from horse to tractor - even that wasn’t easy for farmers. We have to overcome these obstacles. In addition, there are daily frictions associated with bureaucracy and dealing with government agencies, but overcoming mental obstacles is the bigger challenge.”
What do you consider good agricultural practices and why can’t farmers be replaced with algorithms (yet)?
“Good agricultural practice faces the challenge of having to feed 10 billion people in the near future. We must intensify agriculture, but in such a way that the planet doesn’t collapse under the weight of the people. A good farmer manages to - maybe even better with digital methods - feed people in harmony with nature while producing healthy and affordable food, without bringing the environment to its knees.
Algorithms will never replace the work of farmers, but they can improve it. The farmer’s work will change because the algorithms will partially take over control of the machines. If he chooses the right algorithms for his farm, the algorithms can make decisions for him that he previously couldn’t make on his own. He can’t decide exactly how much to fertilise on a particular area by simply driving over the field. The algorithms of a digital system however can. The decision for a digital system and its configuration is his achievement and is what makes him a good or a bad farmer.”
What is the significance of the Farm&Food 4.0 Conference for you and what do you expect from your participation as a sponsor?
“The significance of Farm&Food 4.0 is the public presentation of these new developments. We need public recognition when it comes to digitalisation in agriculture. We must communicate what we are doing.
Only when the consumer recognises and values the positive developments that are currently happening in agricultural digitalisation, can we have success in putting them into practice. That’s why events such as this are so important now at the developmental phase.”
The Farm&Food 4.0 will take place on 21 January 2019 in Berlin.