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Smart Agri for smart farmers

A white robotic arm lifts a bowl of strawberries

Digital technologies are becoming increasingly important for the agricultural and food industry.

James Paterson grew up on a farm near Cape Town and found out firsthand about the challenges that local farmers as well as his family faced. He trained to become an aviation engineer at Boston’s MIT, but returned to South Africa to set up Aerobotics, a company which helps farmers maximise their yields with intelligent tools. “I wanted to put the technologies I had recently learned about to use in farming”, he says.

Combining traditional farming methods with modern solutions is the mission of all the exhibitors in the Smart Agri segment in Hall 3.1. Among them is, a company taking part for the first time. “We market AI services for the greenhouse sector. Smart Agri suits us perfectly. There are so many different solutions on offer here. The focus is not just on software, but on intelligent machines, and everything is interconnected“, says Helen Brunemann, head of marketing.

Smart solutions offer support

Digital technologies are becoming increasingly important for farming. “One of the biggest challenges of our times is providing food for a growing number of people“, says Alexandra Prümke, market manager for FRUIT LOGISTICA. Aside from the necessity of expanding farming output, natural resources such as land and water are shrinking. At the same time, the effects of climate change are destroying harvests and increasing production risks.

Smart technologies help farmers maximise their production while their work becomes more efficient, profitable and sustainable. The technologies range from greenhouse climate management, GPS-controlled positioning and communication systems for farming the land and spreading pesticides, to robots for extracting weeds and harvesting apples.

Exhibitor numbers double

Alexandra Prümke is convinced that “the new technologies will change the business.“ Already, individual digitalised processes and production methods have become routine on many farms. This trend is also reflected at FRUIT LOGISTICA. The trade fair introduced Smart Agri as a new topic heading in 2022, and exhibitors are growing year by year.

A new feature this year is the stage hosting 22 exhibitors who, taking as their slogan ’Farming Forward’, are presenting their solutions. They include non-invasive fruit testing using spectral imaging, AI technology for estimating fruit yields, digital monitoring and forecasting of insect numbers, and a wireless automated irrigation platform. James Paterson from Aerobotics will be there too this Thursday, as will Rien Kamman, CEO of “Our CEO is a great performer. I try to push him onstage as often as possible“, says Helen Brunemann.