The commissioner led off his talk by acknowledging that in an era of hyper-connectivity, “agriculture has not yet caught up with the digital revolution”.

While technology provides new solutions to improve resource efficiency, animal health, carbon footprint and farmers’ position in the supply chain, the sector is not using them enough, Hogan said. “We have yet to witness a wider uptake in the broader farm community.”

To fill this gap, he added that between now and 2020, the European Commission would be making €3.6bn available to fund synergies between agriculture and research.

Around €64m will be dedicated to precision farming and digital technologies in the agriculture sector under the current Horizon 2020 work programme.

Hogan said €30m from this programme would go towards funding a large-scale pilot project in which connected equipment – the so-called “internet of things” - will communicate and use data to improve the efficiency of farming and food security. The commissioner emphasised that the call for applications in this programme remains open until 12 April.

Broadband a condition

Hogan also highlighted EIP-AGRI, a policy and networking initiative designed to speed up innovation on the ground. He said that it will intensify networking between science and practice and help spread innovative solutions benefiting the agriculture sector and the food chain as a whole.

“The main precondition for rolling out this type of service is the availability of fast broadband connections, as well as sufficient knowledge on the side of the farmers to make use of it,” he remarked.

The commissioner explained the need for aggressive investment into further development of technologies and into their widespread adoption, stating that research funding should be combined with support for pilot projects.

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