5G has the potential to become the «power outlet» of the 21st century

March 30, 2021 | Images: Agroscope / Adobe Stock


Agroscope is the federal competence center for agricultural research. One important branch of research is "Digital Production," in which smart farming is being further developed and implemented. Its director, Thomas Anken, explains in an interview how data, sensors and mobile communications are becoming "nuclei" for a competitive Swiss agricultural industry. 


Dr. Thomas Anken, what is the potential of «Smart Farming»?

Agricultural systems are complex and multifactorial. In animal husbandry, a number of things – performance, animal health, feed quality, fertility etc. – are influenced by a wide variety of factors. Plants, meanwhile, can be affected by weather, soil, fertilization or pests, among many other factors. If we succeed in recording the conditions of as many influencing factors as possible and combining them in analysis, we can provide farmers with a better basis for decision-making. Up until now, for example, farmers had to watch their dairy cows very closely in order to be able to detect diseases early. Thanks to integrated sensor technology and software tools, animal-related data from both individual animals and entire groups can be automatically collected in real time, bolstering the health monitoring process.  

The same applies to nutrient deficits in plants, which can be detected earlier and better through sensors and image processing than with the human eye. We are still in the early stages of digitization. But with the latest technology, we can make advances that weren't possible even 10 years ago. 

What role does 5G play in all this?

5G represents an opportunity and forms important basic infrastructure for rural areas. The technology has the potential to become the «power outlet» of the 21st century, so to speak. Real-time data transmission and evaluation opens up new possibilities for data-intensive applications such as the mapping of weeds or the high-resolution image recording of plant diseases. Because of the very low latency times, machines will in future be able to navigate autonomously, as we can see in the trend towards autonomous driving among private vehicles.   


What is the essential success factor that will ensure these new technologies are able to establish themselves within the agricultural sector?

Their user-friendliness. If a farmer can simply monitor their equipment or access information in the field or in their barn through their smartphone, then their job is made much easier. Combined with forecast data such as weather information, they can precisely control many processes within their business. In the future, integrated farm management information systems will play an important role, enabling the universal smart management of a farm – sort of like an «Agri-SAP», if you will. 

Sunrise Business Connectivity allgemeine Funktionsweise

Smart Farming

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  • Digitization in agriculture is one of the focus topics at the Joint Innovation Center of Sunrise and Huawei. Based on 5G, modern technologies ensure that farming becomes smart and thus more sustainable and efficient.

  • Read the article here


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