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Agriculture 4.0 - Digitalization as an opportunity

Portrait of Wilfried Aulbur
Senior Partner, Member of Supervisory Board
Chicago Office, North America
+1-312-662-5551
October 8, 2019

Current agriculture is moving away from smallholder farming towards a highly efficient, site-adapted style of farming that is more efficient

One of the greatest challenges of our generation is to provide a rapidly growing number of people with sufficient food – and healthy food. The study “Farming 4.0: How precision agriculture might save the world” examines how agriculture and industry can, and must, cooperate in the future to tackle this mammoth task.

Demographers predict that around 9.8 billion people will live on Earth in the year 2050 – and with today’s agricultural methods it is not possible to provide for such an enormous number. Agriculture must therefore get an overhaul from the ground up. The use of both digital tools on the one hand and close cooperation with industry on the other are crucial.

Using the technical means available today, it is possible to develop a highly efficient, site-adapted style of farming.
Using the technical means available today, it is possible to develop a highly efficient, site-adapted style of farming.
"Feeding the world in a sustainable manner and convincing farmers that this works is the key challenge of precision farming"
Portrait of Wilfried Aulbur
Senior Partner, Member of Supervisory Board
Chicago Office, North America

With the use of web-based technologies, current agriculture is moving away from smallholder farming towards precision farming. Precision farming is a collective term for new production and management techniques in agriculture. Using the technical means available today, it is possible to develop a highly efficient, site-adapted style of farming that is significantly more efficient than conventional agriculture.

In more concrete terms, this involves the interaction of different segments, such as fleet management, the targeted use of drones, optimized farm management (with regard to soil, seed, plant health and pest control), optimized sowing and the precise use of fertilizers. Large platform solutions are the basis for this intelligent handling. The core link is connectivity.

Five fundamental questions

  1. In which areas can farmers create value themselves in the future – and where does cooperation make sense? If agricultural work is moving towards globally integrated platforms, how can we decide which part of the value chain the farmer wants to play? What skills does the farmer have, or still has to develop, and where is it wiser to enter into partnerships and cooperations with industry?
  2. How can the transformation to results-centered business models succeed? Since the business model in agriculture is developing from product-oriented to a results-oriented, the question arises as to how farmers can establish this change. What time frame makes sense for the transformation process? How can this modified approach be organized and implemented?
  3. How and where can new tecnologies be used meaningfully? How can farmers stay abreast of rapidly changing technological developments? How can these opportunities be exploited?
  4. What are the successful models for farmers? Agricultural incomes are falling, political framework conditions are changing, the average age of farmers is rising rapidly – how can a sustainable value proposition be derived for farmers under such circumstances?
  5. How can farmers be integrated into the industrial transformation process? Regarding the constantly growing activities in the agricultural sector (environment, data, investors), the question of the right communication approach arises. How can farmers be reached?

David Benell, Manager – Food, Land and Water, World Business Council for Sustainable Development, provides a constant to guide future action: “You cannot and should not impose technological solutions on farmers. On the contrary, the solutions that industry must find should focus on the farmer and the people.”


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Study

Agriculture 4.0 - Digitalization as an opportunity

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Precision farming improves farmer livelihoods and ensures sustainable food production. This involves the interaction of different segments.

Published October 2019. Available in
Further Reading
Portrait of Robert Henske
Senior Partner, Managing Partner USA
Boston Office, North America
+1 617 310-6600