NO. 108 DECEMBER 2021 / JANUARY 2022 SPECIAL FEATURE The farms of the future – it’s all about precision For the better part of a century, Europe’s farming system has been geared toward providing a reliable supply of affordable food. Yet success in this area has come at a significant environmental cost, and there is a growing recognition that trying to compete with cheaper imports will only encourage a race to the bottom. How we grow food in Europe will change, and must change to ensure a sustainable future. © Joyseulay, Shutterstock “When tillage begins, other arts follow. The farmers, therefore, are the founders of human civilization.” -- Daniel Webster, American lawyer and statesman It is no surprise then that one of the cornerstones of the EU Green Deal and its Farm to Fork Strategy is a focus on developing Europe’s agriculture industry toward a high-value food system. The EU aims to offer its citizens – and export markets – the best agricultural system in terms of the quality of goods on offer, the welfare of livestock and those working in food production, and the highest environmental and sustainability standards possible. It’s for this reason that it aims for 25 % of cultivated land to be under organic production by 2030. Achieving this goal requires developing new practices and technologies, new breeds of livestock more closely adapted to their local environment, better disease prevention to reduce losses, crop diversification strategies, enhanced soil and water management, and support for farmers to share knowledge and engage with market opportunities. Precision farming offers many of these. It is a management practice that offers dramatic efficiency increases to agriculture through the use of a data-rich approach. This includes real-time monitoring of animals, crops and geophysical factors, recognising and responding to variability within these. It also supports the greater use of AI to help decision-making by farmers, and deploys automated systems that can carry out operations with greater accuracy, cutting labour costs and making more efficient use of pesticides and fertilisers. The seven projects presented in this Special Feature showcase the practical research that is helping farmers achieve greater profits, reduced waste and more sustainable practices. They include a SCADA-style management system for safeguarding hazelnut orchards, AI-powered cablebot and rover pairs that work together to manage microfarms, a knowledge-sharing hub in Serbia, rapid disease detection in pigs, and sensor-equipped cows for healthier herds. The research and innovation supported by EU funding is opening up new opportunities in farming systems, allowing us to support our agricultural industry and food systems, and compete in a global marketplace, without jeopardising the health and welfare of our farmers, their livestock, or the environment. All good things, they say, must come to an end. Unfortunately Research*eu magazine is no exception. For the last 10 years we’ve brought you the latest in EU-funded science and innovation, covering everything from anti-ageing medicine to zeolite crystals. Now, after 108 issues, it’s time to draw things to a close. This feature-packed issue includes an additional four pages looking back at Research*eu’s accomplishments over the years. Those who still want to know what is happening at the forefront of European research, don’t fear, CORDIS will continue to bring you the best stories in EU science, in collaboration with the research agencies of the European Commission services and agencies, and those researchers making exciting new discoveries across Europe and beyond. To find out how you can keep track of all our current activities as well as those we have planned for the future, keep visiting our website. We look forward to receiving your feedback. You can send questions or suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.