MEP Spotlight | Q5: Striking the right balance between precision farming and digitalization

As EU citizens head to the voting polls later this week to select their next European Parliament, the final question in our series focuses on the current and future role of digitalization in farming, asking MEPs Paolo De Castro (S&D) and Herbert Dorfmann (EPP) about how legislation can help to ensure the right balance is struck between such tools improving the sustainability of agronomic practices.  

There is much discussion about precision farming and digitalization in agriculture: how can legislation help to ensure the right balance is struck between such tools improving the sustainability of agronomic practices (e.g., applying crop protection products in a more targeted and localized manner), and increasing the costs of farming? 

MEP De Castro: 

Following the presentation of the Green Deal and the Farm to Fork strategy, we have not been able to build a project that fully involves European agriculture and makes it a true protagonist of the green transition, and not an imputed one. However, as we have repeatedly stressed, without the convinced participation of our farmers and the entire European agri-food system, any prospect of climate neutrality and climate change mitigation becomes unfeasible. 

With the next legislature, we have the opportunity and the obligation to put in place new and decisive policies to accompany European farmers in the ecological transition, without sacrificing productivity: artificial intelligence, precision agriculture, sustainable biotechnology, agroenergy are some of the interventions with respect to which we expect a stimulus from the upcoming European policies. 

 MEP Dorfmann: 

Innovation is vital in agriculture. With pesticides in particular, perhaps the greatest potential for savings lies in the correct application of products, getting them to where they are needed, on the plant, rather than in the air and on the ground. 

So we need to embrace the opportunities of precision farming, but we also need to recognise that all these technologies can be very expensive.  

As there are areas where farmers can no longer afford to innovate, we need to make farming more profitable and thus enable farmers to invest in innovative systems, including precision farming. 

Interested in hearing what else the MEPs had to say? See the full list of questions and answers below!

For journalists wishing to use the MEPs’ quotes or other materials from this post, we kindly ask for you to reference the European Crop Care Association (ECCA) as the source.