I discovered only this morning that next May there will be a very interesting meeting about “The Digital Revolution - Farming 4.0”. Its announcement, however, makes me wonder how complete that meeting will be.

The meeting in question is the IoT Vertical and Topical Summit for Agriculture that will take place next May in wonderful Monteriggioni:

What seems missing from that agriculture summit /img/agriculture-iot-summit.jpg

Its objective is “to launch actions that will lead to the nurturing, and maturing of IoT solutions and deployments that have significant near and long-term benefits for society”. This is great. I only wonder that the discussion may not be really complete, and therefore the actions not balanced, when I look at the list of sponsoring councils and societies:

What seems missing from that agriculture summit /img/agriculture-iot-summit-sponsors.jpg
A summit about farming, obviously sponsored by farmers. NOT

As I wrote just a few hours ago, I happen to be one of the authors of a paper about “Digital DIY for self-sustainability of rural areas” (a summary is available in these slides).

That paper proposes, among other things, exactly making more digital technology used and useable by farmers. As long as it is open, appropriate technology, however, and under control of the farmers. Including, or especially, small and medium farming businesses and cooperatives. Those sponsors and councils, instead, all represent “big IoT”: big organizations whose (fully legitimate, of course!) goal is to sell lots of very complex, more or less monolithic “solutions”. Farmers seem almost totally absent from the program. Hopefully I am wrong, and I will be sincerely happy to update this post accordingly, if this is the case. At the same time…

I hope I can participate to the event but am not sure, since as I said I only discovered it now. But regardless of my own participation, it would be great to know how that Summit will answer to these and the other questions about “IoT in agriculture” I asked this morning:

Interoperability and future-proofness of “Farming 4.0”:

  • Can the farmers who will install all this IoT stuff into their fields and warehouses integrate it with other systems of their choice?
  • If farmers find the whole certification service too complicated or too expensive, can they switch to another provider?
  • Will all that hardware and software infrastructure remain usable even if the startups that installed it go out of business?
  • If those startups are bought by some multinational, will this leave farmers without any control of their work?
  • in other words: is this going to be just a digital version of the Monsanto seeds and pesticides that farmers MUST buy every year, like the John Deere tractors?