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The contribution of precision agriculture technologies to farm productivity and the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions in the EU

Abstract: 
EU Agriculture hast to cope with global challenges such as climate change mitigation or making farming more efficient. The active management of agriculture practices using appropriate technologies and practices, as Precision Agriculture, could reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions while increasing agriculture productivity and income. However, information on the uptake and impacts of the use of precision agriculture technologies in EU is so far sparse and site specific. This technical report assesses the impact of Precision agriculture technology (PAT) on GHG emissions and farm economics. To this end, a typology of PAT was created in order to identify those that had the greatest potential to reduce GHG emissions. Secondly, five case studies were selected with the aim of identifying a combination of EU countries, precision agriculture techniques and arable crop types that could realise the maximum potential economic and environmental benefits of adopting PATs. A survey was applied to 971 adopters and non-adopters on the selected study cases with the aim of assessing the reasons behind uptake and the economic and environmental impacts of different. Finally economic and environmental impacts were investigated though a partial budgeting analysis and Miterra-Europe model respectively. Results indicate that although most farmers were aware of PAT, uptake rates are low among surveyed farmers. High investment costs, farm size and age were identified has fundamental hampering adoption. The survey reveals that adoption barriers might be overcome by boosting economic incentives aiming at improving economic performance both directly and indirectly. However, nonmonetary incentives such as technical advice or training also seemed to be interesting for surveyed farmers. The results of the survey also showed that information points such as peer-to-peer learning, visit to trade fairs, researchers and industry dealers had a positive effect on enhancing PAT uptake. The results of the partial budget analysis, where capital costs of the technologies are not included, indicate that impacts are highly variable by country, farm type and size and by technology. The results of the environmental impact analysis showed that the introduction of PAT might have positive effects on the environment, with reductions in GHG emissions from the fertiliser application, fertiliser production and fuel use.