Agrinnovator in dialogue with Barna Tánczos, Minister of Environment, Water and Forests on the future of sustainable and efficient Romanian agriculture

Young farmers forming the Agroinnovator working group met on 3 November with Barna Tánczos, Minister for the Environment, Water and Forests, to discuss the role of digitisation in tomorrow's sustainable and efficient agriculture.

During the workshop, young farmers presented the Minister with practical examples of how digitisation solutions used on their farms have improved farm efficiency and reduced environmental impact.

Based on the concept of dual financial and environmental performance, the topics discussed at the meeting included: solutions for efficient use of land, water and farm inputs; the importance of data management and farm management solutions for making the right decisions in real time; the potential wasted by not using all pre-existing technologies on modern machinery.


Răzvan Prelipcean, Coordinator of Agrinnovator's Digital Transformation of Agriculture Working Group, on wasted potential in agriculture

In Romanian agriculture today, there is an acute need for qualified personnel specialised in digitisation to help farmers realise and capitalise on the benefits of this process.

In order to support farmers and meet this need in the market, the Working Group has outlined the "Farm Technology Officer" project, which highlights the importance of qualifying and employing competent technicians on farms to drive the digital transformation of farms. "Through this project we propose to create a support scheme to cover the costs of recruiting and training these technicians, which will provide financial assistance to farmers for their employment, so that we can reap the benefits of digitisation," explained Răzvan Prelipcean.

"In the absence of competent technicians, Romanian farmers are wasting a very important potential. All the new machines and equipment bought by Romanian farmers in recent years are preloaded with high-performance digitisation functions, but few use them because they lack the necessary technical expertise and competent technicians are hard to find. This equipment costs a lot of money and generates annual depreciation costs without adding value. Also, the existing equipment on farms today could be upgraded with a few affordable investments in the order of thousands of euros, such as farm management software or a fleet management system, which farmers are reluctant to make for lack of know-how and technicians. [...]

The solution to combat this deficit: we need to qualify human resources in the field of digitisation of farms, in order to achieve the necessary integrations at farm level, so that we can realise the benefits of digitisation on farms," continued Răzvan Prelipcean.

Alin Luculeasa, member of the Agrinnovator team, on solutions to combat lack of irrigation

Alin Luculeasa, a farmer from Vaslui and a graduate of the third series of the "Young Leaders for Agriculture" programme, raised the issue of water scarcity and irrigation systems, highlighting the importance of adapting to climatic conditions with the help of technology.

"Solutions for adapting to climate change: water management, primarily satellite monitoring using NDVI maps, the use of sensors and high-performance weather stations with predictive models for diseases and pest attacks, and advanced satellite imagery for monitoring soil moisture," explained Alin Luculeasa.

"We have been working with minimum tillage technology for at least ten years and we are in full transition to no tillage, because we are trying very hard to have strict water management, the big problem being the lack of water and therefore the lack of irrigation solutions. We aim to have a fully digitised farm. For this we also need a network of smart weather stations and a variable rate seeder that allows us to sow in different densities so that we can exploit the soil in a sustainable way. We're trying to do conservation farming, and the last few years have pushed us more and more towards that."

Raul Gușeilă, member of the Agrinnovator team, on the benefits of using drones

Raul Gușeilă comes from Brasov County, where his family owns a mixed crop and livestock farm using digitisation solutions. At the same time, he has developed his drone business, testing solutions and products.  

"The main advantages of using drones in the farm activity are: fast action when needed; applying treatments in any phenophase of the crop; using variable rate and reducing doses; eliminating losses caused by mechanical damage; reducing the amount of water up to 90% in the tests we perform; reducing the fuel needed, but also the low purchase cost amortized in a short time" explained Raul Gușeilă. At the same time, he stressed the need to establish a legal framework for the use of drones in farm activities.

Petruța Deac, member of the Agrinnovator team, on the importance of using a data management system

Petruța Deac, a software engineer working on a family farm with 200 dairy cows, has managed to streamline the farm's activities by developing a data management application.

"The data management component could be considered the first step towards technology, especially for small farms in the livestock area, because it does not involve a lot of financial resources," explained Petruța.

With the help of the developed application, Petruța created the correlation between the lactation phase of the cattle and different data recorded continuously, such as milk quantity, health status of the cattle. "This way, we have access to a history of their production cycle. We have been able to reduce costs, generate predictability and efficiency at farm level, and at the same time we have noticed differences in animal welfare," added Petruța.  

The use of a data management system also has the advantage of automatically generating the registers required by the authorities. The digital transformation of farms significantly improves the relationship with the authorities by reducing reporting time and bureaucracy.

Agrinnovator team member George Chiriță on dual performance and its impact on cost efficiency

George Chiriță, a farmer from Galati who is passionate about technology and manages 400 hectares, spoke about the importance of implementing and using an irrigation automation system, which leads to reduced water consumption and increased yields. His farm's mission is to produce food using resources as efficiently as possible.

"We save water resources and increase yield. I don't pump as much water, so it won't cost as much for electricity or diesel. Water will fall efficiently where it is needed. That's what dual performance means - meeting, addressing the two factors - environmental and economic," George Chiriță explained the concept of dual performance.

"What we want to do, this group, this Agrinnovator, this team of young people, is to show that it can be done and that we are doing it right now. That we can achieve dual performance using digitalisation. To show that it is possible to balance these two factors and incorporate solutions that reduce environmental impact and increase yield at the same time." concluded George Chiriță, member of the Agrinnovator team.

Barna Tánczos, Minister for the Environment, Water and Forests

The Minister for the Environment, Water and Forests was able to see the ideas that young farmers had put forward to support the importance of digitising farms and provided Agrinnovator with information on how his institution could help them in the future to promote modern sustainable farming practices.

"The energy, knowledge and willingness to change coming from this working group will certainly drive agriculture in general, and the farms you work on in particular, forward. The time has come for this balance between farming, performance, production and soil protection, the frugal use of all the resources agriculture needs. Digitisation will change agriculture in a big way. This is the road that Romania has embarked on, thanks in large part to the generations that are coming up behind and the generations that already have the ability to combine fields of activity. I encourage you to go further down this road, you have a partner in us."

About Agrinnovator

The Agrinnovator think tank, launched in May 2022, aims to promote the creation and dissemination of knowledge on tomorrow's agricultural technologies, by exploring two main areas of work: the digital transformation of agriculture and bio-regenerative agriculture.

The project focuses on young farmers who graduated from the Young Leaders for Agriculture programme, organised by the Romanian Farmers Club, ready to take Romanian agriculture to the next level of development and performance by showcasing international agricultural solutions and technologies.

Agrinnovator is the place where young farmers think, debate ideas and test on different topics in order to create progress and added value.

Agricover provides the necessary framework and support in disseminating the results among Romanian farmers and authorities.

About Agricover

Agricover is the leader in the Romanian agribusiness market, a generator of innovative solutions that transform agriculture and farmers' lives in the long term, creating progress and prosperity on a social scale.

Throughout its more than 20 years of activity, Agricover Group has aimed to serve Romanian farmers and provide them with innovative solutions, tailored to their real needs, so that they can sustainably strengthen their productivity through access to world-class agricultural technologies, financing solutions tailored to the specific agricultural sector and digital agriculture services.