The green telematics challenge

The green telematics challenge


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Information technology and telecommunications
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Commission of the European Communities *
The green telematics challenge
EUR 11075 EN Commission of the European Communities
The green telematics challenge
Proceedings of a workshop held in Brussels,
9-10 June 1987
Edited by:
C. I. Houseman
Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food,
London (UK)
Sponsored by the
Commission of the European Communities
Directorate-General for Agriculture
Coordination of Agricultural Research PAR L. EURCP. BibÜoth.
FUR 11075 FN 1989 Published by the
Telecommunications, Information Industries and Innovation
Bâtiment Jean Monnet
L-2920 Luxembourg
Neither the Commission of the European Communities nor any person acting on behalf of
the Commission is responsible for the use which might be made of the following information
Cataloguing data can be found at the end of this publication
Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, 1989
ISBN 92-825-9685-0 Catalogue number: CD-NA-11075-EN-C
© ECSC-EEC-EAEC, Brussels • Luxembourg, 1989
Printed in the FR of Germany PREFACE
These papers were presented at a workshop on agricultural information technology
held on the 9-10 June 1987 in Brussels, Belgium. The workshop was organised
within the agricultural information component of the Community programme for
the dissemination of agricultural research. Agricultural information is one
of the priorities in this programme.
This area has been growing since the late 1970s. Various telematic products
and services for farmers have been developed in most of the Member States
since then. However development of these types of services has proven more
difficult for farmers than for other types of users. In response to the
recommendation of the Agricultural Working Group of the Committee for Information
and Documentation on Science and Technology the Commission has assisted, since
1984, the establishment of pilot agricultural videotex services in those Member
States where these services did not yet exist. The workshop was held as a
continuation of these actions. It examined the state-of-the-art of agricultural
telematics in the European Communities and reviewed topics which would influence
the development of telematic services for farmers and agricultural advisers.
Up to recently it could be said that agricultural telematics was passing through
the very early stages of the innovation adoption process. The initiatives
experienced in most Member States were of an exploratory or developmental
nature with more failures than successes. However, in several Member States
these early experiences are being evaluated and national plans and strategies
are being elaborated. As a consequence the large scale of capital and manpower
investment necessary has become apparent. The need for an agricultural tele­
matic profession with the attendant needs for education, training, research
and professional standards is also recognised.
The main aim of the workshop was to provide the background for recommendations
on co-ordinated actions to assist the development of agricultural telematics
in the Community. Independent experts were requested to present papers on
the current situation of agricultural telematics in the Member States and
on areas which were considered important to the future development of agricul­
tural telematics. These included evaluation criteria for software, farm
enterprise modelling and analysis, cognitive aspects of farmer/computer inter­
action, education and training needs, development of professional networks
and centres of expertise and pilot and demonstration systems.
The workshop felt that co-ordination is needed at Community level. Concerned
organisations in the Member States are eager to develop co-operative
action if the Community can provide the framework. The main areas to be addressed
by Community action are cost sharing/reduction of product and service develop­
ment, the development of professional expertise in agricultural telematics
and extension of expertise developed in the more advanced Member States to
the rest of the Community. With these priorities in mind the workshop also
put forward recommendations for Community actions in this area.
C I Houseman
Objectives of the Workshop 1
Highlight Report 2
Belgium (G. Carletti & J.J. Claustriaux) 7
Denmark (E. Maegaard) 19
France (L.-N. Netter) 27
Germany (M. Christiansen) 34
Greece (A. Assimakopoulos) 42
Ireland (M.J. Harkin)8
Netherlands (M.C. Geuze & L.C. Zachariasse) 65
Portugal (A.M. Vale Estrela) 7
Spain (F. Gonzalez & M. Sanz) 8
United Kingdom (C.I. Houseman) 94
Business (K.A.K. Poole) 107
Videotex in France (P. Perron)9
Telematics Programs Developed by French Advisory Services
(G. Waksman) 118
Professional Trade Associations (H.J. Westlake) 125
Joint Development of Services (K.A.K. Poole) 13
Education and Training (D. Rieger)9
Session II Rapport (G. Waksman) 14
Software Evaluation (W. Schmid) 155
Systems Analysis ofFarmProblems(F.Kuhlmann)166
Farm Management andEnterpriseSimulation
(J.P.G. Webster)184
Artificial Intelligence(A.Coleno)194
Man-Machine Interfaces inAgricultural Data
Processing Applications (K. Landau) 200
Development of an EuropeanMarketforAgricultural
Information (R. Haber)210
The agricultural information services in the Member States of the
European Communities are currently evaluating and developing new
dissemination methods based on the application of microprocessor
technology. Computers are becoming cheaper and easier to use and there
are major developments in the software industry leading to cost effective
applications in agriculture. Coupled with this is the development of
telecommunications infrastructures which will allow the transmission of
data within Member States and across national boundaries.
There is a general belief that this technology can be successfully used
in the agricultural industry as a management tool for farmers. The way
to introduce this technology to the industry will be via the various
extension services and related agencies which operate in the Member
Specific Objectives
1. To acknowledge the challenge that information technology poses
to agriculture
2. To review the state of the art in Member States.
3. To identify worthwhile developments and to inform Member States
of the opportunities which are open to them.
4. To exchange ideas and experiences.
5. To build on Community and Commission initiatives and to propose
an action plan for the future.
This provided an up-to-date inventory of the state of the art in all Member
States (except Italy and Luxembourg). It was apparent that there was great variation
in levels of activity, stage of development and technical expertise. There was a
great diversity over the whole of the community in terms of the existing situation.
The common theme appeared to be a lack of uptake by the agricultural industry
(particularly farmers) but that there was an overall commitment to the
technology and in many Member States IT is a major element in future planning.
There are particularly strong developments in Packet Switched Networks and other
Videotex in agriculture was in being in all member states except Denmark with pilot
agricultural services commencing in Greece, Portugal and Spain. Original estimates
of uptake by the industry had been grossly overstated except in France where there
had been very good uptake through the Mimitel programme. There was a clear need
for further product development and a better marketing approach to establish the
necessary initial mass.
Initial waves of enthusiasm have now been replaced by a more serious in-depth
consideration of costs and benefits.
The training requirements were particularly highlighted for farmers, advisers
and students. The development and maintenance of commercial services is
expensive in cash and staff terms and few are yet operating profitably.
The development of integrated networks is a key pre-requisite to successful implemen­
tation and many believed that the product was maturing and that a more sharply
focussed marketing effort was required. In other words the technology needed to
be sold to the industry. In particular in the business field, order entry, and
the decentralisation of similar activities was required. There were however,
still a number of conceceptual barriers to adoption. Many felt that low value
in that they only provided simplistic solutions. What was needed was a simple
system providing powerful solutions and that the users (farmers) should be
involved directly in the development of services.
It was agreed that there was a need for trade associations to improve standards
and marketing performance. There was also a need for joint service development
through centres with common interests.
Models for whole enterprise or whole farm simulation were needed both at the
information and data level. These were also needed at the operational and planning
levels. There was also a need for cooperation between member states and the pooling
of resources and expertise and the sharing of experiences.