Smart Farming Scouts at Agritechnica

New technologies can help agricultural businesses fulfill their documentation obligations, increase yields and reduce the use of resources. As a result, the digital transformation brings concrete financial benefits, but how digital are German farmers really? The Smart Farming Scouts, who were on the road at Agritechnica 2023, wanted to answer this question. The Smart Farming Scouts are a pilot project by AgraCheck, DKE-Data and the DLG, in cooperation with the North Rhine-Westphalia-Lippe University of Applied Sciences.

The scouts could be found at the "DLG Spotlight: Smart Farming", where they explained the advantages and possibilities of digitalization in agriculture to farmers. The aim was to guide interested parties to the appropriate halls or stands where they could take a closer look at specific solutions.


The scouts used the smart farming comparison platform to find the most fitting solution for farmers.


Visitors met the Smart Farming Scouts, consisting of university students and employees of the smart farming comparison platform AgraCheck, in Hall 9 on the exhibition grounds. The interest of the farmers was significant, especially after realizing that the scouts formed an independent unit under the direction of DLG.


Most of the interested farmers came from Germany, with farms of an average size of 222 hectares and less than 5 employees. From a small 7-hectare farm to a 1300-hectare company, different sizes were represented. In addition to German farmers, international guests also took advantage of the service, as the example of a Ukrainian farmer with 22,000 hectares shows.


Exemplary classification of a farm business 


Source: Agriculture 4.0 toolbox from the BBA and VDMA


The Smart Farming Scouts conducted detailed consultations in which they analyzed the degree of digitalization of the farmers in the categories of farm management, animal husbandry and crop production. They used the Agriculture 4.0 toolbox from the BBA and VDMA as a guide, which comprises 16 sub-items, including data management, financial planning, storage technology and irrigation. The farmers assigned their farm to one of five levels of digitalization, whereby the following evaluations only take into account the results of the 76 participating German farmers.


Average degree of digitalization of German agriculture by sector



The evaluation of the results reveals an overall low level of digitalization in German agriculture, with livestock farming taking the top position with an average score of 1.88 out of 5, followed by arable farming with 1.82. Farm management brings up the rear with a score of 1.72. The areas of seeding, fertilization and crop protection application are progressively digitalized here, possibly due to the widespread use of RTK systems. This provides the basis for section control and the variable application of inputs. Nevertheless, the use of these technologies requires additional understanding during commissioning and use in the field. Stable and milking technology are also seeing investments, while storage technology and irrigation are still not very digitized.


Agricultural businesses want to invest in the digitalization of these areas.



The survey regarding future investments shows that farmers want to invest more in established areas such as data management, fertilization and crop protection as well as seeding and planting. Data management in particular plays an important role in order to meet the requirements for subsidies and the buying public (food retail) in the future. Data management also forms the basis for further investments in the area of digitalization. Herd management, irrigation and milking technology, on the other hand, rank further down the list. Surprisingly, the area of public relations and transparency came last, although direct marketing is generally gaining in importance.


Overall, the results of the Smart Farming Scouts at Agritechnica make it clear that there is a high level of general interest in the topic of digitalization. Nevertheless, there is still a significant deficit in education on digital topics. Although digitalization is already being taken into account in agricultural training, the extent of this is far too limited. In addition, there is a lack of offers to familiarize farmers who are already practicing with the advantages of technological development and, consequently, to support them in the selection and implementation of new practices. We can only exploit the full potential for more efficient and sustainable agriculture when the digitalization actually arrived in the farmer’s heads.

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