Agritech: the answer to the challenges of the Basque Country’s agricultural, livestock and forestry sector

2022 December 12
  • About 100 people attended the conference “AGRITECH, the future of the sector,” where the opportunities offered by the application of new technologies in Basque agriculture were presented
  • The Basque Country’s objectives in the field of agritech are to improve the competitiveness, efficiency and environmental impact of the current sector through the implementation of key technologies; to increase food production, as well as to promote local agritech entrepreneurship, among others
  • Representatives of innovative agritech companies have shared some of their experiences using these systems

As has happened in other activities, high technology has also expanded exponentially in agriculture, livestock and forestry, which are undergoing a revolution due to technification, digitalisation, sensors, robotics, artificial intelligence... It is essential that the agri-food and forestry sector transforms and moves towards more productive, sustainable systems that are resistant to the effects of climate change, and part of the answers to these challenges is in what we call agritech.

It is a concept that combines the use of technology and technological innovation to improve the efficiency and performance of agricultural and livestock processes, as well as to save farmers time, effort and money. At the European level, it contributes to the achievement of two priority objectives for the EU, such as adaptation to climate change and achieving climate neutrality in the land use, forestry and agriculture sector, thanks to the implementation of precision agriculture.

In the Basque Country, in recent years, thanks to the impetus of the Basque Government’s Department of Economic Development, Sustainability and the Environment and of NEIKER as a centre specialised in agritech, numerous actions and financing programmes have been articulated to accelerate the technification of agribusiness and forestry farms in the Basque Country.

In this context, with the aim of analysing the opportunities of applying new technologies in Basque agriculture, the conference AGRITECH, the future of the sector” was held this morning in Vitoria-Gasteiz. The conference, which took place at the headquarters of the Basque Government in Lakua, was attended by the Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Policy, Bittor Oroz.

Technology to improve agriculture

During the event, the strategic lines of agritech in the Basque Country were presented, which consists of a roadmap with the following objectives: 

  • To improve the competitiveness, efficiency and current environmental impact of the sector through the implementation of key technologies.
  • To increase food production in order to reduce dependence.
  • To increase training, both in the field of vocational training and at the university level, in technified agriculture and livestock farming.
  • To promote local agritech entrepreneurship.
  • To create new business opportunities for the industrial fabric of the Basque Country that wants to diversify its offer towards the global agri-food chain (sensors, components, robotics, materials, structure, energy field, etc.).
  • To attract foreign investment to the territory (productive and/or technological).
  • To attract start-ups that require incubation or acceleration (productive and/or technological) for their subsequent implementation.
  • To create, within the Basque Science, Technology and Innovation Network, an optimal ecosystem to face the challenges of agritech (R&D&I agents and instruments).
  • To generate the optimal public-private ecosystem to boost the development and implementation of the roadmap.

In 2022, this action plan has focused mainly on advancing in the technification of the sector based on the needs that farmers and ranchers have been expressing, and also on creating the necessary alliances in R&D&I to take a step forward in the development of the roadmap.  In particular, collaboration agreements have been signed between NEIKER and other BRTA technology centres such as TECNALIA, VICOMTECH and TEKNIKER.

Specifically, during 2022, the fields of work have focused on precision agriculture in extensive crops such as fertiliser and irrigation systems based on artificial intelligence or aeroponic seed potato production; protected crop systems such as greenhouses or indoor farming with combined strategies; precision livestock farming; agrivoltaics and the development of transversal tools such as Eusko-Agromet.

Looking ahead to 2023, the Basque Government will maintain its commitment to continue promoting agritech in the territory and will place special emphasis on progress in precision farming systems and on training and support for technical personnel to incorporate these technologies into their regular work.

Success stories in agritech

After the presentation of agritech issues, representatives of companies in the first sector had the opportunity to share with the public their experiences in implementing new technologies on their farms.

Firstly, Raúl Rituerto, livestock farmer and consultant at Lursare explained how virtual fences contribute to a more efficient and competitive extensive livestock farming. This technology consists of replacing traditional fencing with virtual fencing, which is ‘drawn’ on an App and provides a virtual grazing plot. Afterwards, the floor was given to Javier Torre, manager of Hermanos Torre, who showed the audience how precision agriculture helps the efficiency and sustainability of extensive crops. Torre explained that yield and fertilisation maps (based on satellite images, orthophotos and farmer knowledge) of the plots are prepared, so that irrigation and fertilisation doses can be adjusted using digital systems. To finish off, Juan García del Moral, from Ager Technology, closed the event by declaring the importance of putting high technology at the service of agriculture and presenting existing solutions that enable significant improvements in farm management.

One comment
  • Photo SN Robot
    2022 December 14

    Comentario de Twitter:
    Agritech, la respuesta para los desafíos del sector agroganadero y forestal de Euskadi https://t.co/azFmaKcqH5

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Politicians attending the event