EU Member States are being called upon to devise technology vouchers fostering precision farming in Europe.
CEETTAR, the European Confederation of Agricultural, Rural and Forestry Contractors and CEMA, the European Agricultural Machinery Industry Association have come together to propose an innovative incentive in the form of “smart technologies voucher” under the CAP (common agricultural policy) 2021 – 2027 that would allow farmers to access advanced technologies delivered by land-based contractors.
This is to offer small and medium-sized farms the possibility to use new technologies, that they not themselves are able to finance.
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Modern equipment @CEMAagri + skilled workforce from contractors #CEETTAR propose "smart technology vouchers" to support precision farming technologies uptake for all-size farms in EU – #FutureofCAP #Comagri @EP_Agriculture https://t.co/SYCfkK4liN pic.twitter.com/rM5AzpBV12
— CEMA-agri (@CEMAagri) September 18, 2019
By using the equipment and the skilled workforce provided by contractors, all types of farms are to benefit from the same quality of technology in proportion of their respective size. This would allow small farm-holdings to compete with bigger farms equipped with the most-advanced equipment, which is also to have an indirect positive effect on rural development.
New invoicing and payment systems could be used by farmers, foresters by which the added value brought by contractors will be identified to the detail. Another effect can be, that precision farming tools penetrate the market faster because the acceptance will be faster as well – without having the risk of spending money for new technologies.
Farm holdings of all sizes would be better able to test the additional value of precision farming technologies through their contractors first, before potentially considering a new investment.
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According to CEETTAR and CEMA, the voucher system should be technology neutral and as harmonised as possible across the EU to avoid market distortions. It should exclude unauthorised alterations of the equipment or retrofits that void the original type-approval of the machinery.
It should be well defined in time and scope, to provide enough legal certainty to investors, contractors and manufacturers. Additional proportional support should also be provided to the farmer who adopts at least 4 technologies, proving that he/she is using a full set of digital tools on the farm.
The amount of the voucher provided to the farmer is to depend on the total amount of hectares that the farmer would use the precision agricultural services from the contractor for.
CEETTAR and CEMA further say that providing indirect support to contractors through such vouchers will also entice young people to be part of a business environment that is increasingly important in rural areas.
Young farmers will not need thereby to increase their operating costs and they will be enabled to hire more skilled work. Benefits for the farmer will also include higher yield and lower input costs, states the joint position paper.
Precision agriculture technologies
As a starting point, the advanced technologies to be considered as part of precision agriculture are, according to CEETTAR and CEMA: