The global market for plant protection is going through difficult times. The market for plant protection products declined from $ 60,5 billion in 2014 to $ 54,15 billion in 2017. In 2018, the global market modestly grew by 2,03%. But this can hardly be considered an occasion for optimism. Natural disasters and the tightening of restrictive standards on certain groups of pesticides have already had and continue to have a negative impact on the market.
According to Bob Farklow, the head of Amis AgriGlobe, this year the industry will face a number of challenges, including the influence of political decisions, “trade wars” and the general “greening” of the course of the European Union and other regions. One of the possible answers to these challenges may be new digital technologies, which are increasingly showing themselves in the industry of plant protection products.
To assess the digitalization level of companies and structures operating in the SZR industry, AgriBusiness Global interviewed 210 respondents from 57 countries. The study involved manufacturers (36%), distributors (25%), as well as representatives of universities, governments, associations, NGOs, consulting and other organizations. The range of products with which the surveyed companies work is presented in Figure 1.
As the study showed, currently only 26,7% of the surveyed companies work with precision farming technology, slightly more than 23,8% are engaged in equipment for this. In other words, precision farming is still in its infancy in many parts of the world. However, the picture will change very soon: more than 82% of respondents believe that the precise use of plant protection products will increase significantly over the next 12 months. Less than 5% of respondents either disagree or strongly disagree with this statement.
As one survey respondent said: “Digital applications will be key in the near future for crop growth, sustainability and preparedness for future regulations and social pressure.”
Drones and pesticides
Changes will take place in both aviation and ground handling. More than 86% of respondents believe that drones and drones will have a large impact or some impact in protecting crops. Even more (92%) say that “pesticide spray control and differential application” will have an impact on the use of crop protection products.
“Developing new formulations should be the first step. There are opportunities for developers here, ”says CS Liew, Managing Director of Pacific Agriscience Pte Ltd and a member of AgriBusiness's Global Advisory Board. "To increase the use of drones in pesticide treatments, new formulations need to be created."
According to the survey, drones will have the greatest impact on North America: just over 50% of respondents rated the region as the place where drones / drones will ultimately make a difference in crop protection. Currently, there are regulations in the United States that drones operators must have a line of sight to their drones while they are in operation, and products must be labeled for use in the air. Large croplands also impose restrictions on technology - the battery life on the drone and the potential payload are not yet as large.
Less stringent rules in China and Southeast Asia have made these regions fourth in the list of countries where drones / drones will have the greatest impact.
There are other factors that will influence drone applications. “In countries where markets are highly regulated, additional data will be required to provide variability in the use of technology equipment and applications,” said one respondent. "This will hinder any early adoption due to the cost and time involved in generating such data."
The study showed that the situation in the application of pesticides using ground-based equipment is similar: North America, Western Europe and South America took the first three places, China / Southeast Asia fell to fifth place after Eastern Europe.
Seat allocation has been affected not only by regulatory pressure to increase accuracy, but also by problems with glyphosate. Regulations restricting its use and increasing weed resistance are fueling increased interest in the precise / controlled use of crop protection products. According to the survey, 49% said that problems with glyphosate are very influencing changes in their attitude towards pesticide use.
To make differential and accurate pesticide application more common, new technology needs to be promoted throughout the supply chain.
“Retailers need to do a better job of promoting accurate depositing and developing new recommendations for their customers,” wrote one respondent. “This gives them a significant opportunity to retain customers and replace lost profits from declining sales. Technologies and companies that provide the 'recipe' for the accurate application of agrochemicals will win in the end. ”
The technology of creating active ingredients over the past decades has enabled growers to reduce the amount of pesticides needed to spray crops. And precise application can further reduce the amount of sprayed product. Nearly three quarters of respondents agree that precision application technology will reduce sales of agrochemicals over the next 12-24 months.
“Fewer liters of product can be frustrating for manufacturing companies,” said one respondent. "But new formulations and formulations that can be applied to drones / drones could be more profitable than selling many liters."
Even those who think this may take longer know that applying accuracy is already inevitable.
“Forecasts have a right to exist, but there are still more technical difficulties than expected. It will take longer than predicted for drone spraying to spread to a significant portion of the cropland, ”said one respondent. Another respondent put it this way: “Like most practices, precise application of plant protection products will find their place; but that will not be the complete end of what is now. "
The challenge for many companies interested in precision farming is to determine exactly where to invest their money and energy.
More than 90% of the study participants agree with the statement that "agrochemical companies and companies specializing in precision applied technologies will need to explore the possibilities of business partnership over the next 12-24 months."
And, of course, the precise application of pesticides is only one part of the offer of new farming technologies using digitalization. As one respondent said, “New and innovative applications are required. Using drones or precision application of pesticides alone will not be enough. "
The next few years should prove to be interesting for precision application of pesticides in particular and precision farming in general. The results of this survey show that this is not a passing fad and that companies need to be prepared to deal with this growing trend. One survey respondent suggests that the upcoming changes will have a huge and lasting impact on the industry: "Precision farming will be the next revolution after the Green Revolution."
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