AGRICULTURE AND DEVELOPMENT
The second half of the twentieth century has seen a remarkable increase in agricultural productivity. The global productivity per hectare from 1950 to 2000 has grown by almost 150%, that of the agricultural labor of 75%, the total of 55% (Source: Dott. Roberto Esposti, National Institute of Agricultural Economics). Strong growth attributable primarily to the introduction of new techniques and technologies for the agricultural industry. The link between innovation and agriculture is strong and should strengthen further if businesses and companies are put in the position to recover profit margins and market opportunities and, more generally to overcome future challenges.
Cost reduction, productivity of labour and land, quality production, but also sustainability and water rationalisation are only some of the challenges faced by an industry strongly influenced by globalisation and characterised by a high degree of complexity.
The agricultural industry needs to focus on training and research, preferably if supported at a community level. European programs such as Horizon 2020 and the Common Agriculture Policy 2014-2020 will allow Italy to take advantage of € 4 billion to support innovation and competitiveness for the entire agricultural industry. This opportunity will advance scientific knowledge (especially, biological processes) and will translate into tangible and usable innovations in production. In short, technological progress cannot and must never stop, we must be prepared.
AGRICULTURE AND LANDSCAPE
Innovation must also consider a balanced territorial development on a large scale, which is the other major topic. For centuries, man has incessantly worked to shape and model the landscape for production purposes, often improving it, reclaiming it and making it a safer place. In fact, a well-cultivated territory is also a well-preserved territory, better able to respond to climate changes and hydrogeological disruptions. For this reason, the functional recovery of the territory and enhancement of the landscape are two sides of the same coin. And since we have to deal with it, then we must be prepared to do our best.
Those who know the work of the visionary landscape designer, Fernando Caruncho, are aware that he invented, among other things, the vineyard garden in Puglia, a conceptual and minimalist landscape that unites interspersed "wavy" rows with olive trees. They should also know that he loves to blend grain crops with cypress trees and lawns, and the result is a harmonious synthesis between production and ornamental elements. Clearly, this is only a taste of how the Italian landscape can be enhanced, and it is always good to remember, that together with the artistic heritage, it is one of our country’s main excellences. Consequently, innovation is an essential component of this element, and when only the smallest portion of the territory changes, and therefore the landscape, we must ensure that what we leave behind is better than what we received.
AGRIROBOT, THE FIRST FARMING ROBOT BY ZCS
In essence, how will agriculture evolve? Big data, sensors, robotics, automation: numerous tools have already been made available by modernity. For example, the mapping of farms, once entrusted to expensive helicopters, is now performed by drones, which are effective and low cost tools to monitor production, crop diseases and effects of drought. ZCS is also doing its part with the recent introduction of Agrirobot, an agricultural solution able to manage the mowing of the vineyard autonomously. In fact, soil management and treatment are fundamental agronomic practices for rational and effective viticulture.
Agrirobot was recently awarded at the EIMA 2016 fair with a "Special Mention" and "Blue Prize.” This innovative robot is powered by a solar panel and is the first solution where energy production and accumulation are integrated into one product to guarantee power supply even at times when sunlight is insufficient.
In addition, the robot does not require installation or programming: it is equipped with an evolved movement system consisting of GPS that allow recognising the rows, only cutting when they are present. Agrirobot is effective, sustainable and ready to use, and meets the high standards required today for a product to be called innovative.