On 11 November 2021, Estonian Chamber of Agriculture and Commerce for the first time organized a conference on the challenges and developments of the ongoing digital transition in agriculture. The conference topics covered the impacts of agricultural policy and the role of public sector in digitalization, digitalization processes and achievements in crop and animal production, including the use of digital soil maps applications and drones, future trends and precision agriculture, data exchange challenges.
SustainIT team member Martin Kukk gave a presentation on the role of public sector in digitalization. The justifications for the public sector’s intervention include the expectations that through the policy measures it would contribute to competitiveness of the sector, and help to find solutions to the environmental challenges, creates an appropriate legal framework and ensures just access to digital data for all stakeholders. An important role of the state is to address the potential threats that come with digitalization such as data protection challenges and data access issues. Martin Kukk concluded that it is vital that the public sector develops an overarching strategic vision for the digitalization of agriculture and integration of various e-service infrastructure elements already developed in Estonia.
SustainIT project coordinator Ants-Hannes Viira introduced SustainIT project and the first results related to data exchange challenges in dairy farms in Estonia. The two main databases of cattle data in Estonia are those of Estonian Livestock Performance Ltd. database and the registry of agricultural animals of Agricultural Registers and Information Board. A typical dairy farm uses several applications but as one of the biggest challenges remains the need for manual data entry and database integration. The most urgent needs in the sector are collection and access to data on hoof health, medical treatments, medicine and antibiotics use, sharing the data with the industry, performance measurement and provision of benchmarking insights to the farmers.
SustainIT team member and the head of the Estonian Dairy Cluster, Hardi Tamm, presented the final conclusion of the conference. According to Hardi Tamm, all stakeholders need to prepare and upgrade their knowledge for successful digital transition in agriculture because none of us has prior experience in such a transformation. At the same time, digital transition is crucial for saving costs, creating more value added but also for attracting young talents into agri-food sector.