What is Agriculture 4.0? It starts with artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things and digital maps, and it leads to the tractor of the future, gathering information from the environment and communicating through the Internet

Precision farming is becoming a reality thanks to sensors that evaluate nutrient levels in the soil, measure air humidity and monitor crops until they are harvested. This information, driven by artificial intelligence, is processed by data platforms and turned into digital maps for farmers. In this way farmers are able to produce more with less: more crops, less water and less fuel, fewer pesticides and fertilisers. And fewer emissions.

That’s important, because agriculture emits 19.9 billion tonnes of CO2 each year. A crucial development in this Agriculture 4.0 is the tractor of the future from SDF. The Italian company has created a hashtag for its most advanced agricultural machines:#AlwaysOnTractor. Launched in September 2020, the new DEUTZ-FAHR 8280 TTV is a fully connected machine equipped with the latest digital solutions to make farming more sustainable.

“In recent years, a substantial part of our human and financial resources has been allocated to sustainable innovation, whether economic, social, health or environmental,” says Lodovico Bussolati, SDF’s chief executive. “The situation we are currently experiencing due to the global pandemic and climate-related problems has further accelerated the market demand for technological solutions that can be used to promote an increasingly sustainable development of crops with less waste and inefficiency.”

SDF’s research and innovation in agricultural equipment, machinery and services is backed by a €50 million EIB loan  that’s guaranteed by the European Fund for Strategic Investments. The project falls within the scope of Horizon 2020 and is aligned with the goals of the Paris Agreement.

“We expect this project to produce quite a positive environmental impact,” says Matteo Fusari, the EIB senior engineer who worked on the project. “It supports  vehicle automation and remote control. Besides reducing fuel consumption and limiting CO2 emissions, these technologies will enhance the sustainability of enterprises in the bioeconomy value chains.”

“Automation will also enhance agricultural operators’ safety and will improve their working conditions,” he adds. To transform the product cycle and create a wider, greener working ecosystem, SDF has created its own digital platform, the SDF Data Platform. SDF tractors are able to communicate with the platform through a standard protocol called ISOBUS, a sort of universal language accepted and understood by different types of devices. Fleet, farm and field data are stored in one place and are available at any time to farmers. The availability of this data, together with underlying analytical tools, enable SDF to give its customers simple and valuable information to maximize output, while reducing input resources, protecting the environment. That means a significant potential impact on climate change, because of the emissions that would be saved.

SDF has been active in this area for several years now, and is offering its customers “technologically advanced instruments with the aim of supporting our core products, tractors and harvesters,” says chief executive Bussolati, “with a host of integrated services and functions that will allow our customers to improve the management and performance of their farms, with a view to achieving production efficiency and reducing waste.”