The ways of future agriculture and cattle-raising


The possible changes in the agribusiness chain in the coming decades have been debated concerning climate change, circular bioeconomy, new trade contexts between countries, consumption trends, and especially the impacts of the Fourth Technological Evolution linked to the production of food, fibers, and energy—the so-called Agro 4.0—, which will encompass the other aspects of change.

The term Agro 4.0 was defined in studies as an analogy to Industry 4.0 but regarding the context of digitalization in the agribusiness chain through the phenomena and technologies encompassed in “emerging” and “enabling” concepts such as Big Data, Internet of Things (IoT), Augmented Reality (AR), Robotics, sensors, 3D printing, systems integration, ubiquitous connectivity, Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning, digital twins, and blockchain, among others.

Digital transformation includes adapting agriculture and livestock processes aimed at automation, flexibility, scalability, and increased productivity and quality of products and services. Agro 4.0 helps rural producers to use economic, human, or technological resources efficiently and allows traceability in the agribusiness chain so that decisions are based on more accurate data and impact less the environment.

With advanced information systems, huge amounts of data related to production and other links inside the chain (such as weather data, land use, soil conditions, and market relations) can be collected, analyzed, and processed to help farmers profit more from their economic activities. In Digital Agriculture, data become core assets of businesses and collaborate to reduce uncertainties, as they allow accurate measurement in real-time, whose processing and the ability to make autonomous and intelligent decisions can lead to increased efficiency, agility, and resilience.

Given this, the Industry 4.0 paradigm—which is the fusion between the physical and virtual worlds—is the basis for creating an environment in which all elements of agriculture and cattle-raising production would be connected. All devices (cyber-physical systems) and features would be regarded as services, with regular communication and a high level of coordination.

But what would be the impacts of these changes on Brazilian agriculture and livestock? Even if national production has historically stood out in the use of technologies, there are many challenges to be overcome for democratizing and expanding Agro 4.0 in the country. Some studies have already been carried out to determine the main issues, but the subject will still be discussed in the coming decades when identifying successful profiles of food producers will shape new solutions.

The Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (EMBRAPA) estimates that global food systems will change considerably by 2050, given the complexity of the factors that will impact these systems. According to EMBRAPA, 12 factors were determined, characterized, and gathered as strengths and opportunities that will affect food systems and are part of the megatrends in food systems for the coming decades.

Among the strengths are demography and demographic imbalances; global trade; energy; environment and natural resources; diet and nutrition; and climate change. Opportunities include ecological intensification; biotechnology and genetic enhancement; bioeconomy; disruptive technologies; agribusiness investments; and precision agriculture.

Considering current scientific publications on technological advancements in agriculture and cattle-raising, researchers have been devoted to speculating what will be the next evolution that would give rise to Agro 5.0. Several authors assess that it would be the massification of new power generation systems in production units, implementing solar and wind energy coupled with all the effects that other digital devices will cause in optimizing the use of production factors such as water, agricultural inputs, labor, etc.

This context could positively impact tropical agriculture: Brazil will increase its competitiveness due to comparative advantages, with available arable land and natural resources that would add to the generation of renewable energy on a scale adapted to sustainable production models in the country.

Matheus Ferreira, Assistant Executive Director

Diego Humberto de Oliveira, Coordinator of Strategic Intelligence