Younger and more well-educated farmers in Germany are more likely than their older counterparts to adopt precision farming technology as they look forward to benefiting from the decision for the many years to come.
Farming operations with more than 500 hectares of arable land are also more likely to implement smart agriculture, while the converse also held true, with farms smaller than 100 hectares more likely to stick to conventional farming methods, according to a paper by Margit Paustian and Ludwig Theuvsen published in Precision Agriculture in December 2016.
Precision agriculture is a farming management approach to manage the variables of crop and soil to increase profitability, optimize yield and quality, and reduce costs and environmental impact. Precision agriculture technologies have been in use since the mid- to late 1980s and commercially available since the early 1990s.
In Germany, about 10% to 30% of farmers have adopted precision agriculture. A wide range of tools are available, based on GPS technology, information technology, farm management and economic knowledge, and sensor and application technologies.
Agriculture 4.0 has been coined to characterize this type of information-based farming. However, a number of surveys have shown that farmers remain reluctant to adopt precision farming to professionalize their farm management, not least because of a lack of expected benefits.
Difficulties associated with handling and interpreting precision farming data, and having the technology to do so, also present hurdles for the average farmer. The high costs of technology are often cited by farmers, as are management attributes such as computer literacy, job satisfaction, management know-how and success in crop production.
For the reasons above, bigger farms run by young, well-educated farmers are more likely to implement as they enjoy economies of scale and a long planning horizon to reap the benefits of the implementation.
These observations have bearing on smart agriculture adoption in developing economies where the average farm size is much smaller. Globally, 72% of farms are smaller than one hectare in size, according to Our World in Data.