On 28 February, a roundtable organised by The Economist was held at the agricultural fair SIMA in Paris, focusing on the future of agriculture and its inextricable link to the future of environmental responsibility. The issue was debated by the top management of New Holland Agriculture along with a pool of high-profile international experts.
The event was attended by Carlo Lambro, Brand President of New Holland Agriculture, Sean Lennon, Head of Tractors Product Line at New Holland Agriculture, and Antonio Marzia, Head of Data Analytics and Services at CNH Industrial, together with international experts and representatives from academic, institutional and industrial fields.
Introduced by Geoffrey Carr, Science Editor at The Economist, Carlo Lambro opened the debate and addressed the crucial issue of how to cope with the huge growth in food demand linked to the exponential increase of the global population between now and 2050, when it is estimated to reach 9.7 billion people.
Lambro illustrated the brand’s ongoing commitment to tackling this urgent need and to supplying advanced technological solutions that are also increasingly efficient and sustainable. He then highlighted the key points of the Clean Energy Leader strategy, namely the continuous innovation of agricultural mechanisation, particularly in emerging countries, the development of precision agriculture and of future digitalization, and the use of sustainable fuels.
The very concept of innovation is changing radically and it is fundamental to understand that new machines and new technologies, as well as alternative fuels—which New Holland Agriculture has always pioneered—have become essential choices not only in the agrifood business, but on a global level.
Sean Lennon talked about the use of alternative fuels, particularly natural gas and biomethane, linked to the Energy Independent Farm concept, where the Methane Power tractor plays a fundamental role. It is a product fully in tune with the brand’s strategy to provide solutions that are not only technologically efficient, but also aligned with the latest trends, such as the use of entirely renewable fuels. It is also a rewarding solution: by using biomethane the tractor can generate fuel cost savings of up to 40% and reduce the total cost of ownership (TCO) by up to 30%. It is also a highly sustainable solution, as it can completely eliminate CO2 emissions.
Another crucial issue was raised by Antonio Marzia, who spoke in his address about the advancement of precision agriculture, which is revolutionising cultivation and harvesting methods thanks to new technologies linked to digitalization and big data. Marzia highlighted the importance of further adopting IoT (Internet of Things) technology within the European food supply chain. The increasing use of artificial intelligence is an inevitable process and New Holland has taken up this challenge by presenting the NHDrive concept autonomous tractor, a natural evolution of satellite-based guidance systems. It is a driverless machine that can perform a wide range of farming tasks day and night and even move completely autonomously. It is able to work alongside other autonomous machines and can also work in tandem with machines driven by an operator. Courtesy of the cab, it can still be driven by an operator, ensuring maximum flexibility.
It is therefore easy to appreciate the global benefits of such solutions and how agriculture should involve all components in the supply chain – from producers to institutions and industry associations right up to the consumer – and should therefore receive support and help from the best minds and the most innovative companies to fulfil its mission of feeding our planet in a more equitable and sustainable way. It therefore requires a harmonious system not only in terms of intent, but also in terms of effective and efficient solutions that benefit the world’s population.
The core theme and conclusions of the roundtable were neatly summed up by Carlo Lambro in his answer to the question “What do you believe is the future of agriculture?”: “I think that it’s about doing more with less. That way we obtain more food, more nutrition and more sustainability with less effort, fewer emissions and less waste of resources.”
The roundtable was attended by: Susanna Pflüger, General Director of the European Biogas Association (EBA); Marie Donnelly, Director for Renewables, Research and Innovation, Energy Efficiency at the European Commission’s DG Energy; Bruce E. Dale, Professor of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science at Michigan State University; Tim Hamers, Technical Advisor at CEMA, the voice of the European Agricultural Machinery Industry; Giovanni Perrella, Senior Energy Advisor of the Italian Ministry of Economic Development’s Energy Department; Aurelie Beaupel, creator Agreen’Startup and API-AGRO Hackathon; Emmanuel Ladent, Group Head of the Agricultural Product Line, Michelin; Damien van Eeckhout, Head of International Business Development at Airinov; Marie-Cécile Damave Agronomist, Head of Innovation and Markets Saf Agr’iDées.