As the primary producer of biomass for the "4F - Food, Feed, Fiber, Fuel" crop production plays a central role in the bio-economic complex. Crop production is the source of raw matter for food and feed as well as for bio-based materials and the energetic use of biomass. The production of biomass has a particular impact on the environment as well as economic and social influences. Hence all management decisions are crucial for a sustainable production system.
Precision crop production faces socially relevant challenges, such as expressed by the global sustainable development goals (SDG): increase productivity while making sustainable use of natural resources and preserving biodiversity, ecosystems, soil fertility and natural habitats. Further aims are the environmentally compatible management of chemicals and the reduction of impact of invasive species. In order to persist in this area of concflict, crop production needs to be more efficient and better adapted to environmental conditions.
We are therefore working on solutions for a sensor-based, local resource management in precision farming and precision horticulture. Here, our goals are an efficiency increase in crop production through adaptive process control that enables the reduction of natural resource degradation, decreases uptake rates and emissions, alongside with the development of technical solutions for a sustainable intensification of knowledge-based, locally adapted and precise crop production.
Innovative sensor and data driven technologies create new possibilities for the precise and knowledge-based management of crop production. By combining individual strings of process control into system-optimization tasks, the focus widens to a connected agriculture or "Agriculture 4.0". The segments of (automated) data-acquisition, -processing and -analysis as well as issues of connectivity and machine automation, which are essential for the development of the Agriculture 4.0, are a logical development of the precision agriculture approaches. At the ATB, Agriculture 4.0 is understood as a holistic approach describing and managing effects in the bio-economic system-of-systems which goes far beyond mere technical development but includes the area of information and knowledge management. The gathered information is included in the development of complex physiological and physical models, which in turn enable a precise control of production processes in the sense of sustainable intensification.
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