Digitising Farm Machinery Produced by SMEs
Advising farmers on business plans and the digitisation of their machinery through expert-led workshops, to improve competitiveness and reduce energy consumption.
The objective of this Flagship Innovation Experiment (FIE) is to assist SMEs to integrate innovative digital solutions into their existing commercial products. For example, by adding sensors or cameras. This not only helps SMEs to increase their competitiveness, but it also optimises existing products in terms of energy consumption, yield increase, efficiency and transparency. Workshops, led by agricultural and digital experts, are used to advise SMEs in identifying the added value of a digital upgrade of their products.
Ultimately, the prototypes are adequately tested according to the latest standards with the help of regional Digital Innovation Hubs (DIHs) and commercial farms to ensure the smart products meet farmers’ requirements.
We focused on two digital solutions developed by SMEs, to be added to
• a row hoe (Gothia Redskap)
• a field sprayer (Danfoil A/S)
For Danfoil A/S the initial objective of the project was to fit a camera to the sprayer, enabling new digital services and precision agriculture (e.g. spot spraying). The subsequent specific focus of the project was to establish a datalink and format, that allows camera data and location data to be automatically and securely communicated from the Danfoil solutions to the supplier (AgroIntelli) and, from there, on to a neutral data platform provider (SEGES). Thirdly to demonstrate and test the new spray with the camera on a Danish farm.
The Gothia row how/seeder was upgraded with new software. The field operation has been delayed by weather conditions.
The digitalised sprayer allows for more efficient spraying and the camera unlocks more potential upgrades. Farmers using a Danfoil sprayer automatically provide data on spraying, which can be used to create more precise spraying patterns or avoid unnecessary spraying. Furthermore, the camera solution and the datahub enable future precision agricultural solutions: the mounted camera can also collect data on the types of weeds and pests in the field.
When upgrading equipment with new technology, we also need to consider the impact on the business model. The companies involved in this FIE were already developing their upgrades before joining the project but without fully considering the implications for the sales channels, pricing, operation, and further development of the solution. In order for an upgrade to be sustainable financially and commercially, all aspects need to be taken into consideration.