In Turkey and in the rest of the world, human labor in agriculture is gradually being replaced by machines. Industry 4.0, also mentioned that the fourth Industrial Revolution provides the opportunity to decrease human labor in production and the focus is shifting towards machines. Inevitably, agriculture which is one of the most important sectors in the world is affected by this change.
Prof. Dr. Meltem Onay, from Yasar University's Management Faculty and Temel Aycan, president of the Aegean Young Businessmen's Association (EGIFED) assessed the impact of Industry 4.0 on agriculture and they shared their thoughts on "Agriculture 4.0" known as smart agriculture.
According to Aycan, when Agriculture 4.0 is fully developed in Turkey, there will be new opportunities for employment. He said: "With smart agriculture, a new generation of farmers will appear. Thanks to young people with university degrees, a new model of knowledgeable farmers is on the way. Young farmers will then implement technology in agriculture."
What is Agriculture 4.0?
The idea is to implement new technologies in agriculture in order to increase productivity and variety while producing healthier products. The internet of things will be used in agriculture and censors will be implemented in vehicles and tools. Thus, the whole production process will be in line with each other. Digital sensors will provide farmers with the required knowledge and reminders for the kind of fertilizers they need to use, the current state of the soil, the timing of the harvest, the need of minerals and water and the weather conditions. The timely information given to producers will ease the process of production compared to traditional methods and the aim is to reach the highest productivity possible.
What is Turkey's approach towards smart agriculture? Why should Turkey choose smart agriculture?
What we need to do is to draw people's attention to Agriculture 4.0. The aim is to prepare for the future. Turkey needs to achieve two important things as soon as possible. First, Turkey does not have the luxury to loose more time, today is the time for smart agriculture. The country needs to act while using its agricultural potential in order to become more competitive. Second, Turkey has extensive natural and human resources for agriculture but needs to improve how to plan and manage these. Recently, we had heavy rainfalls and floods that we've never seen before. The climate change and potential risks need to be calculated. There is an urge for better management of agriculture. Agriculture 4.0 will be useful in achieving this. It will provide farmers with higher productivity and income, more environmental and better production conditions.
Will Agriculture 4.0 require less human labour? If yes, would that cause unemployment?
I rather consider this as an opportunity, because I believe that a lot of people would be interested in a productive and profitable production. Young people should choose a sector where they can actually earn what they deserve. In future, they will be more interested in smart agriculture. Only then, more employment will be created.
We will see a new generation of young farmers with smart agriculture. With university degree they will be more equipped and create a new model of farmers. In Turkey farming as a profession will regain its status.
Thanks to a smart management of agriculture, in some tasks humans will be replaced by machines and thus prevent loss of time. The number of people working in a given job, the working hours per person, the volume of production and the revenue need to be calculated properly. Time and quality management is very important.
Is Turkey suitable for smart agriculture? Are there any studies on Agriculture 4.0?
It will take Turkey some time to achieve this technology, because it is still expensive. Small lands may be a downside to implement agriculture 4.0. Due to inheritance, lands are divided in Turkey. Agricultural fields became smaller and smaller. Besides, cooperatives are not common. If farmers cooperate and invest in Agriculture 4.0 there is a chance to enlarge their lands and reach higher productivity. The number of farmers is also decreasing, which poses another disadvantage. Therefore, we need young farmers and adapt a new model of agriculture.
Is Turkey able to produce this smart agriculture technology?
Research is ongoing in that area. However, high costs may stop the researchers to implement the technology fast. I believe that in time we will overcome this issue. For now, we suggest farmers form cooperatives and buy machines to increase productivity.
When did agriculture 4.0 start and which countries are taking the lead?
Agriculture 4.0 actually started with the onset of Industry 4.0. As technology improves, smart agriculture grows. South American and Northern European countries, especially the Netherlands are using Agriculture 4.0 in an effective way. The reason behind the success of Dutch smart agriculture, is that they heavily rely on technology. Think about it, it is a very small country but takes the lead in the world.
How can Agriculture 4.0 be developed in Turkey?
There are three important issues; education, social awareness and harmony, economic base and support. It might be possible to adapt Agriculture 4.0 in Turkey if we improve on these three basic elements.
We need to understand the value of smart agriculture, and this can only be achieved with education. In Europe, there are universities specialized on agriculture and they are much more advanced than our agriculture faculties. They spend a lot on R&D. The implementation of technology in agriculture starts in universities. Thus, young farmers will play an important role in this transition.
Of course, a strong investment is needed. State need to support young entrepreneurs and follow up on their progress.
Innovation is another area that we need to work on. We should create added value for our products and create new products. For example, a child might have difficulty in eating a fig but one can serve this in the form of mini balls. If we cannot be innovative, we cannot be competitive in the sector. Innovation comes with smart agriculture.
Does state help to develop Agriculture 4.0 in Turkey?
The state has some support programs but they are not sufficient. A solid economic support is needed. Turkey has an enormous capacity in terms of lands and productivity. Neither the farmer nor the companies are as powerful as state. The state needs to support and encourage producers while developing control mechanisms to follow up. Turkey needs to develop what it has and be more competitive on the world stage.
Agriculture 4.0 provides high quality
According to Prof. Dr. Meltem Onay, Agriculture 4.0 will improve Turkish agriculture industry due to its accuracy and the ability to build a network of communication among several machines.
Could you please explain digitalization in agriculture?
Through sensors and drones, one can observe the soil, the stages of production, weather and humidity and whether there is any disease or not. If there is any problem in soil, the systems of Agriculture 4.0 warns us and offers quick solutions. With this technology, it is possible to follow all the stages of production and take precautions when necessary.
What kind of change should we expect from Agriculture 4.0?
There is a growing trend in the world towards specialization. In the past, everyone did the same job and this used to cause problems. Now, one will irrigate, one will pack, one will recycle. There is a clear division of labor. No one will say "let's grow tomatoes, let's grow figs and do this and that". What's happening is for the better. It won't cause unemployment, but it will create new and highly qualified jobs. Besides, we will increase the quality of our products and expand our markets. Our potential to export fresh produce will become bigger. Finding new markets will be easier because we will be able to produce high quality products which will meet the standards. Agriculture 4.0 will make sure that we meet these standards.
Exports will double
Prof. Dr. Onay pointed out to the trade between countries and said: "With Agriculture 4.0 we can double our exports. Since production with the use of technology will provide the best quality products, competition will become fiercer." Prof. Dr. Onay listed the reasons why one should use smart agriculture as the following:
Why Agriculture 4.0?
1- The digitalization of agriculture is dependent on the production of new machines and tools. New production equipment can ensure high quality and productivity. Tractors are the basic vehicles for agriculture industry. With the GPS technology the use of tractors can be optimized. Harvesting and planting would be much easier and the use of fuel would be much less.
2- Sensors on the products can check productivity and protect sensitive products.
3- Data collection and data use and share are the advantages of Agriculture 4.0 in order to increase productivity.
4 - The opportunity to collect data and measure the quality of soil, weather conditions and level of insects etc.
Source: Haberekspres (Burcu Ozkan)