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Agriculture and New Technologies: A Basic Challenge for the Twenty-First Century

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Part of the Social Indicators Research Series book series (SINS,volume 85)


In modern society, the importance of agriculture is reduced in comparison to the past. In spite of it, agriculture is not of little importance in modern society. It is a key sector for economic development, particularly in less developed countries. Secondly, agriculture is linked to the environmental question as a climate change agent.

Today technological development could be the way to develop agriculture and improve sustainability.

The paper is structured as follows. The first paragraph reconstructs very shortly the relationship between technology and agriculture from the historical point of view.

The second paragraph is devoted to today’s new technologies for agriculture, considering the problems in implementing them.

The third paragraph reports which are the digital technologies most frequently used in agriculture and the measures that governments should implement to improve the sector.


  • Agriculture
  • Technological Development
  • Sustainability

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  • DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-97806-8_7
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  1. 1.

    The reduced importance of the primary sector compared to the importance acquired first by industry and then by the service sector is measured in terms of its incidence in contributing to GDP and to the number of employees employed in agriculture.

  2. 2. / common-agricultural-policy / income-support / young-farmers_en

  3. 3.

  4. 4.;

  5. 5.

    Although the planet’s surface is covered by 70% water, 97% of this is salt water, 2% is in the form of natural production and only 1% is potable water (Done, 2012, p. 92).

  6. 6.

    In supply and water consumption the less developed countries are disproportionally negatively affected in comparison to the advanced ones.

  7. 7.

    Regarding the fight against hunger (goal 2):; relative to the ac availability clean here

  8. 8.

  9. 9.

    Sustainability refers to the ability of an agroecosystem to maintain production through time, in the face of long-term ecological constraints and socioeconomic pressures,” Altieri, 1995, p. 58.

  10. 10.

    The smart factory is based on the Machine to Machine (M2M) connection that makes possible the data exchange. Data and several kinds of digital equipment or resource are much more frequently available in cloud. The next step is the interaction between humans and machines (IPA Fraunhofer-Institut, 2015, p. 11).

  11. 11.

    “In 2014, drones helped farmers in China to cut use of pesticides by half, reduce water consumption by almost 90 percent, and reduce labor and material costs by 70 percent. Drones are faster than humans as they can apply pesticides up to about 132 acres of farmland each day in northern China, whereas one person is usually able to cover a maximum of 5 acres per day,” ivi, p. 108.

  12. 12.

    “The economic benefits of guiding systems in the UK were estimated for a 500 ha farm to be at least at 2.2 € / ha (Knight, Miller and Orson, 2009) […] In Germany, economic benefits from savings of inputs were assessed at 27 € / ha for the case of winter wheat,” Trendov et al., 2019, p. 101.

  13. 13.

    “A drone costs at least US $ 1000. An Internet-enabled tractor costs around US $ 350,000,” ibidem, p. 31.

  14. 14.

    In fact, it is estimated that “Worldwide, in 2018, 115 percent more downloads were registered of the top five food-delivery apps compared with 2016,” ibidem, p. 65.

  15. 15.

    Enabling technologies: Equipment that allows the user to achieve better performance and enhance their capabilities.

  16. 16.

    “The Department of Agriculture in the Indian state of Karnataka has made it mandatory for agricultural development officials to have a smartphone so they can share information, messages and circulars through WhatsApp,” Trendov et al., 2019, p. 67.

  17. 17.

    Just two examples. The Italian agricultural producers’ association Coldiretti ( reports that in Italy, already in 2013, more than 12,000 agricultural start-ups were created by young men and women aged between 25 and 30 years (see Inea, 2014, In Africa at the beginning of 2018, 82 agritech start-ups were registered, of which 52% started in the previous 2 years (Disrupt Africa, 2018).

  18. 18.

    Internet World Stats,


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Correspondence to Adele Bianco .

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Bianco, A. (2022). Agriculture and New Technologies: A Basic Challenge for the Twenty-First Century. In: Facioni, C., Di Francesco, G., Corvo, P. (eds) Italian Studies on Food and Quality of Life. Social Indicators Research Series, vol 85. Springer, Cham.

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