3 tips to facilitate the transition to sustainable technologies

We often hear about future agriculture and new technologies focused on environmental protection, efficient use of resources and improved productivity. But like any new technology, its widespread integration is not guaranteed. If agricultural producers do not adopt new technologies, it is not necessarily due to a lack of open-mindedness, as most of them aspire to be as productive as possible while respecting the environment. However, the introduction of new technologies risks creating a vicious cycle in which developers want manufacturers to test and validate their products, while manufacturers demand concrete results before adopting a technology.

An example that illustrates this point comes from my experience as an agronomist at Solum Technologies, a Quebec manufacturer of dynamic LED horticultural lighting for greenhouses. Supplemental lighting is essential for many fruit and vegetable production in winter greenhouses, and the market is shifting from sodium vapor lamps to LED lamps primarily to reduce power consumption in greenhouses. This change is already well advanced in Europe and Ontario, but it is slow in Quebec. Why? Not because growers don’t care about energy efficiency, but because in a greenhouse, the heat produced by HPS (high pressure sodium lamps) is welcome during our cold winters. Inadequate consideration of heat reduction will pose a major risk to production. It is therefore legitimate to ask whether the technology has been validated in the specific context in which it is proposed.

So how can we facilitate the transition to sustainable technologies? Here are some thoughts based on my experience.

Tech developers, be ready to learn

Ask any agricultural producer what their operations involve, and they will always tell you that they are not just one thing. Productivity is affected by many parameters. As a technology developer, it’s easy to limit your vision. Take the example of a greenhouse: the light source has effects beyond the simple question of photosynthesis. The effects of light on humidity in the greenhouse, insect pest and pathogen pressure, and the activity of bumblebees and biological control agents must also be considered. It is not simply a matter of replacing the light source with a more efficient one. So, if you are a technology developer, ask producers a lot of questions to fully understand their reality, their needs, and their experience with your product.

support required

Simply installing new technology at a manufacturer is not enough. Technology developers must work with producers not only in the design of the product, but also after its implementation to ensure the producer’s success with this technology. If you are a manufacturer, insist on ensuring regular follow-up with the company and that the company is open to feedback to improve the product.

Data is useless without analysis

We have all heard about artificial intelligence and automation in agriculture. It seems like every new technology offers a new interface and at least one report with enough data to give you a migraine. But data has no value without analysis and recommendations; They just add complexity. So, for technology developers, the interface, reports, and data you provide to producers should provide actionable information that adds value and helps the producer make better decisions. And from manufacturers, always ask for a demo of the technology and don’t hesitate to give your opinion on how data is presented and evaluated.

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