While more and more state governments are opting for curfews and a lack of personnel is causing farmers more and more trouble, digital agricultural systems could offer a way out. After all, the world is changing rapidly in these times of crisis. Gottfried Pessl, managing partner and founder of Pessl Instruments, explains in an interview how the latest systems can help the modern farmer to smoothly control the farm, even during a quarantine.
Every operation in the field costs time and money, but during the corona crisis it is impossible to monitor all crops accordingly. "Our digital systems enable the farmer to reduce the physical effort in the field considerably," Pessl outlines. "Our current target group mainly consists of agricultural advisors who commute back and forth all year round. A practical example: A consultant in California who commuted an average of 80,000 km per year, only within a 150 km radius, was able to reduce his annual mileage by 70% within a very short time, while increasing his turnover by 200%."
Camera surveillance within agriculture.
Accelerating the digital revolution
Pessl Instruments' products sold worldwide under the iMETOS brand include weather stations, soil moisture monitoring devices, irrigation control systems, electronic insect traps, tracking solutions, remote plant monitoring systems, disease and pest warning software, a mobile laboratory for soil analysis and localized weather forecasts. On average, about 100,000 daily users of the FieldClimate concept rely on Austrian-made processes in about 50,000 system installations. Pessl: "The demand for our digital processes in the agricultural environment is clearly there. There are certainly many examples similar to the one just mentioned by the consultant in California. In my opinion, the digital revolution will now be accelerated by the current crisis."
Transmission of real-time data
Computer-controlled technology has been used in agriculture for about 20 years, but only a small percentage of farmers are willing to innovate. In the wake of the current exceptional situation, a rethink is now taking place, Pessl believes. "Digital solutions make it possible to identify problems promptly without actually observing the crops on site. And this even more carefully than with physical use. For example, the farmer and consultant can install a weather station that provides real-time data on the current weather situation in the field. Among other things, temperature, soil moisture, precipitation, wind force, degree days and frost or heat risks, highly accurate local weather forecasts are analyzed simultaneously. All this data is now generated in real time and delivered to the users via mobile phone."
CEO Gottfried Pessl on stage.
Exponential increase in demand
The demand for the various digital solutions from Pessl is currently experiencing an exponential increase. "Every day we get more inquiries than the day before. Recently, we received an inquiry from an existing one from a huge tomato producer in the USA, which already uses more than 300 soil moisture meters. The company also wanted to integrate real-time analysis of insects, phenology, plant nutrition and crop worker tracking. We received a similar request for a complete solution from a Turkish tomato grower."
Such digital equipment enables more efficient risk management. "At the same time, however, it also leads to an environmentally friendly and personnel-saving work process as well as healthy agricultural products," says Pessl in conclusion.