Innovation That Matters

Three key trends for farming in 2024

Features

How will digitisation transform agriculture in the coming years?

Agrivi CEO and founder Matija Zulj on the end of ‘business as usual’ farming and the case for increased digitisation.

Agrivi is a Croatian-based agritech company delivering digital agriculture solutions globally to the entire agri-food value chain for the past 10 years. Its core technology is a farm management system that provides farmers with a ‘digital control room’ that offers real-time insigths into crop progress. Last year, it introduced AI agronomic advisors to facilitate a more efficient, profitable, and sustainable food system.

Agrivi’s CEO and founder Matija Zulj is an agtech expert, impact entrepreneur and serves as European Innovation Council Ambassador, OECD-FAO Advisory Group Member for Responsible Agriculture Supply Chains, and UN Global Compact Croatia Board Member. He shares his take on three key trends shaping the future of farming.

1. Regenerative agriculture will get a boost from regulation

The idea of using regenerative methods to improve the health of the soil, biodiversity, and water resources and as an answer to lowering the negative climate impact of agriculture is not new. But Matija believes that 2024 will see an acceleration in its adoption due to new regulations and directives. “The era of voluntary ESG reporting is coming to its end,” he says. “Regulators all over the world are bringing new regulations and directives to make ESG reporting obligatory, as well as to standardise it to make reports of different companies comparable.”

“The European Union has taken the lead with a set of green directives, such as the EU Regulation on deforestation-free products, Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive, and Green Claims directive, while other countries are also working on introducing the ESG reporting requirements – the US is working on the Climate Risk Disclosure Regulation (CRDR), the UK on the Green Claims Code, India brings the ESG reporting obligation for the top 1,000 listed companies.”

For agri-food companies, these requirements will bring significant obligations both in terms or reporting and efforts to reduce emissions, which are some of the highest in across industry: according to the IPCC, if emissions associated with pre- and post-production activities in the global food system are included, the total number of greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture sits at around 21 to 37 per cent of the world’s total.

“Increased digitalisation will allow agri-businesses to measure the current state, implement improvements, and secure data for reporting. This, along with regenerative agriculture programmes, will play a major role for transitioning towards more efficient, sustainable, and resilient agricultural production.”

2. AgTech solutions will continue to gain ground

Matija estimates that 50 per cent of enterprise agribusinesses are using some form of digital agriculture tools, while the adoption at medium-sized and small farms, in the majority of markets, remains nascent, which means there is a lot of potential for innovators looking to break into the field if they can get over current blockers.

“The obstacles that stand in the way of digital technology adoption are connectivity issues, budget constraints, and an overall scepticism towards AI-generated prediction,” Matija states. “However, external pressures like climate change, inflation, supply chain inconsistencies, regulations, and overall need for higher productivity will act as catalysts for agtech adoption.

“Companies that do use digital tools show tangible return on investment, increase in yield volume and quality, waste reduction, and overall farm profitability increase.”

The AgTech Trends 2023 study shows that investment in AgTech solutions will be on the rise, with 60 per cent of agribusinesses planning to increase their AgTech budget with over 60 per cent of them prioritising the purchase of farm management software and precision agriculture tools.

3. Generative AI will be transformative

AI is already in use in agriculture, powering a new generation of machinery, smart sprayers, and a wide range of hardware products, as well as a driver of actionable insights, predictions, and recommendations in software products. However, as in other industries, generative AI has the potential to be a game changer.

“Its immediate role is to democratise access to technology and empower farms of all sizes worldwide with knowledge and advice in their own language,” says Matija. Agrivi has developed an AI-enabled ‘advisor’ tool that allows farmers with no technical know-how to access insight and data via channels they already use, such as WhatsApp, Viber or Telegram.

Changes cannot come soon enough, according to Matija: “Business as usual farming is no longer an option if we are to meet the future demands of a sustainable and secure food system.”

Agrivi.com