Digital innovation is revolutionizing the AgriFood chain. From cultivation to distribution, there is no field in which Industry 4.0 has not improved the quality and efficiency of services. And to prove it, now, is the report of the Smart AgriFood Observatory of the School of Management of the Milan Polytechnic and of the RISE Laboratory (Research & Innovation for Smart Enterprises) and of the University of Brescia.
The research has mapped 110 companies in the sector (74% established brands and 26% startups) offering over 300 technological solutions of Agriculture 4.0, with very different roles and positions along a chain that in Italy is now worth about 400 million euros (+ 270% compared to last year). These are very positive data, to which we must add the fact that the Italian market is worth 5% of the global market and 18% of the European market.
49% of the companies monitored are suppliers of advanced solutions such as the Internet of Things, robotics and drones; 22% of data analysis solutions; 16% of machinery and equipment for the field. The most frequent solutions are the systems that can be used across several agricultural sectors (53%), followed by those for the cereal sector (24%), fruit and vegetables (24%) and wine (16%).
The success of agricultural enterprises is increasingly due to the ability to collect and enhance the large amount of data that will be generated, above all to achieve cost control and increase the quality of production
“The success of agricultural businesses – says Filippo Renga, professor of the Milan Polytechnic and Director of the Smart AgriFood Observatory – is increasingly determined by the ability to collect and exploit the large amount of data that will be generated, above all to achieve cost control and the increase in production quality”.
According to the survey, Italian companies are increasingly aware of the opportunities offered by the 4.0 paradigm (85% of the 766 respondents) and increasingly use solutions oriented to Agriculture 4.0 (55%). 55% of companies say they use advanced machinery or technology for crop planning, seeding, cultivation, and harvesting, of which 45% have been doing so for more than five years. It’s a decisive difference according to the size of the land: for areas under 10 hectares only 25% of companies adopt 4.0 solutions, compared to 65% of those above 100 hectares.
"71% of the solutions of Agriculture 4.0 today – notes Andrea Bacchetti, professor at the University of Brescia and Director of the Smart AgriFood Observatory – is able to support decisions by leveraging data even with advanced analytics systems and almost half of the surveyed farmers, 45%, are aware of the relevance of the data, but it is still not clear how to valorize them “
The impact of digital technologies is considerable: 30% of companies adopting digital traceability solutions reveal a reduction in errors in data entry and in the risk of tampering, while 27% notice a reduction in costs required to activate procedures traceability.
71% of the solutions of Agriculture 4.0 today are able to support the decisions leveraging the data also with advanced analytics systems
An important part of the research concerns the startups in the sector, which since 2012 have collected a total of 2.9 billion dollars in funding. A fun fact about this: Italy is the European country with the largest number of startups, but only affects 1% of total investments received globally, with 25.3 million euro.
It is significant that, among the new companies, eCommerce is the main area of interest, with 65% of the international startups active in this field and an impact on financing equal to 84% of the total.
Finally, the research shows that the Blockchain technology and the Distributed Ledger are taking hold in AgriFood: there are 42 international and Italian projects mapped from 2016 to 2018, more than doubled in the last year. These are initiatives that, in 24% of cases, are applied in various fields, in 21% they are dedicated to the meat supply chain, 17% to fruit and vegetables and 10% to cereal.