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Opportunities for Agriculture through Industrial Internet of Things / Industry 4.0 - A comparison between US and Europe

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  2022 ASABE Annual International Meeting  2200131.(doi:10.13031/aim.202200131)
Authors:   Heinz Bernhardt, Maximilian Treiber, Paulo Flores, Xin Sun, Leon Schumacher
Keywords:   cyber physical systems, data exchange, data networks, smart farming.

Abstract. Industrial revolutions are technological developments that not only affect the economy, but also have a massive impact on society, social development and the environment. The first industrial revolution was the steam engine and the universal availability of energy, the second industrial revolution was the assembly line with mass production, and the third industrial revolution was the introduction of robots with the separation of people and work. Currently, the fourth industrial revolution is being discussed. The goal is that the individual production systems communicate independently with each other and make decisions based on information gathered by the system. The terms "Industry 4.0" (Europe) and "Industrial internet of things" (US) both describe this technological and social development.

Similar developments can also be observed in agriculture as well. At first glance, it looks like many approaches of "Industry 4.0" with Smart Farming are already implemented in practice in agriculture. However, if one then analyzes the systematics of "Industry 4.0" more closely, it becomes apparent that there are still many gaps and misunderstandings to be addressed regarding implementation of some of those concepts towards agriculture production systems.

The systematics of "Industry 4.0"/"Industrial internet of things" on the following three key technologies and concepts (enablers): internetworking, service orientation, and interoperability. This results in the following implementation options (benefits): digital individualization ("batch size 1"), flexibility, demand orientation/"X as a Service", sustainability, process orientation, automated knowledge and learning, collaboration competence, and productivity optimization.

The feasibility of these concepts are analyzed using agricultural examples in the field such as sowing, plant protection, grain harvesting or silage logistics. The analysis reveals a number of sectors that still need to be worked on in agriculture. There are some cultural differences between the US and Europe, but also some similarities. For example, data protection when exchanging data between different systems is a problem for farmers in Europe. This is seen less critically by farmers in the US. A technical problem is the availability of fast data networks for data transfer from the field to the cloud and back. Here, the infrastructure in Europe is already better developed in some cases than in the US. Data exchange between tractor and implement is usually easier in the US because there are fewer manufacturers than in Europe and that in many cases the fleet in an individual fam is from the same manufacturer. On the other hand, technical progress is faster in Europe due to the competition between the various manufacturers. The aspect of training farmers for the new systems presents both regions with corresponding challenges.

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