BEATLES has set up 5 UC pilots comprising a good representation of EU regions (Lithuania, Germany, Spain, Denmark, Netherlands) and agricultural systems (wheat, dairy, fruits, pig sector, onions and table potatoes). These are the major production systems in the EU and correspond to the majority of EU agricultural exports and account for 45% of agricultural land. The essence of this selection of the use case pilots is to account for the diversity of contexts, conditions, farming systems, farm typologies and climate-smart agricultural approaches across the EU in order derive meaningful systemic insights about the validity of behavioural insights across countries and contexts.
Lithuania (AgriFood Lithuania DIH)
The wheat sector is an important part of Lithuania’s agricultural industry. Wheat is one of the main cereal crops grown in Lithuania, with an average annual production of around 1.5 million tons. The wheat sector contributes significantly to the country’s economy, providing employment opportunities and generating income for farmers and agricultural businesses.
Wheat is accounting for around 35% of the total cereal production of the country with around 70% of wheat production exported to other countries. The main export destinations for Lithuanian wheat are other European Union countries, including Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands.
- Fluctuations in market prices
- Climate change
- Competition from other producers in the region.
- The sector has remained resilient, with farmers and businesses adapting to changing market conditions and adopting new technologies to improve productivity and efficiency.
- Farmers’ lack of knowledge of sustainable practices and reluctance to change.
- Resistance to change
- The high upfront costs of equipment, software, and data analytics can be prohibitive (particularly for smaller farms).
- Limited access to technology.
- Lack of support policies.
- High bureaucracy and constantly changing policy strategies makes hard for farmers to use existing support mechanisms.
- Conservation tillage.
- Crop rotation.
- Precision agriculture.
- Integrated pest management.
- Cover cropping.
- Improved soil health.
- Reduced environmental impact.
- Improved resilience.
- Improved food quality and safety.
In 2020, in around 57.000 farms 3,9 million cows produced 33,1 million tons of milk, which makes Germany the biggest milk producing country within the EU. The produced milk is not only consumed in Germany but exported worldwide.
Around 1/3 of the CO2-equivalent emissions produced through agricultural production comes from keeping of ruminants, especially dairy cows.
In the last years, a structural change within the dairy sector is taking place, reducing the total amount of farms and at the same time continuously increasing the number of kept animals per farm. This trend is following an overall trend within the German agricultural sector and is mainly threatening small and medium-sized family-owned farms.
One of the main regions for milk production in Germany is the alpine region in Southern Germany. The region is especially suitable for keeping of dairy cows, because due to high precipitation and partially mountainous landscapes, grassland is widely spread.
The Use Case is focusing mainly on organic and fair certified farmers.
- Farmers in this region are facing various challenges.
- Due to low prices for milk and low demands for organic meat resulting in low profits for organically raised calves, farmers are facing challenges regarding the economic sustainability of their businesses.
- Another challenge is the preservation of cultural landscapes through grazing and animal welfare towards expectations by consumers and tourists which are colliding with the lack of legal and political support of farmers’ existence.
- Farmers are starting to face the effects of climate change, such as heavy floods and heat waves.
- Organic and fair farmers are also facing social and societal challenges due to the low awareness and acceptance of trade and consumers regarding the higher prices for organic and regional products as well as the listing in retail.
- Barriers for the implementation of climate-smart agricultural practices, such as organic agriculture are the aforementioned low willingness of consumers to pay for extra environmental benefits that cause extra costs for farmers.
- There is a lack of knowledge, on farm and science level, on farm specific possibilities to reduce GHG emissions.
- Within the Use Case on organic and fair dairy production in Germany, the BEATLES Project is focusing mainly on organic agriculture, breeding for longevity and enhanced forage performance as sustainable practices within the agricultural sector.
- A better communication of benefits related to climate-smart and organic agriculture, leading to more environmental consumer choices and therefore more environmentally friendly agriculture.
- The project will create a more enabling environment for climate-smart and organic agricultural practices.
In Spain, organic fruit production currently comprises 15.674 hectares. 324 hectares of organic fresh fruit production comes from the region of Navarra which takes about 15% of total fresh fruit surface.
In particular, there are 166ha of organic apples in Navarra, being the most produced organic fresh fruit of the region.
In the region of Navarra the agronomic conditions facilitate fruit production but the level of self-supply remains low at 57%.
- Although the proportion of organic fruit surface in Navarra is large, organic fruit production cannot cover the demand while local organic fruit is transported to other regions.
- The lack of adequate warehouses has been identified as a major problem for organic fruit producers. Moreover, consumers are unaware of organic production methods and sometimes unwilling to pay more for organic fresh fruits.
- Use of ground cover.
- Zero waste.
- Use of hail and pest resistant nets.
- Techniques of sexual confusion.
- Use of a “Station of warnings” app for pest warnings, treatments etc.
- Establishment of a successful organic apple value chain in Navarra, leading to an increased surface of organic apple production.
Denmark (Food & Biocluster Denmark)
2,800 pig farms, with a total population of ca. 13 million pigs in Denmark produce ca. 30 million pigs each year. Approximately half is exported as piglets.
Danish pork is exported to over 140 countries around the world and constitute ca. 4% of total Danish export.
At EU level, pork contributes to 8.5 % of the total EU-27 agricultural output – the highest share among other meat sectors – and contributes to 35% of the total meat market.
- To improve economic sustainability and competitiveness of pig production.
- To reduce environmental and climate footprint of pig production.
- Attitudes of farmers towards smart farming practices.
- Farmers’ lack of knowledge.
- Consumer unwillingness to pay more for sustainable products.
- Differences across European markets.
- Lack of accepted methodologies to calculate climate footprint.
- Lack of adequate policies.
- High bureaucracy of CAP payment system.
- Housing for pigs with low emission.
- Pig manure for biogas production.
- Locally produced protein feed (green protein).
- Shift to green energy.
- Regenerative farming practices.
- Sensors for emissions monitoring.
- Carbon storage through manure-based biochar.
- Electronic tags on the animals.
- Reduced GHG and ammonia emissions.
- Reduced pollution of surface waters and ground water with excess nutrients.
- Improved economic performance of pig farms.
- Maintenance of jobs in meat processing industry.
- Increased food security.
The Netherlands (DELPHY)
Onions & Potatoes (Vegetables)
Potatoes and onions are cash crops for most arable farmers in The Netherlands. The share of these crops are maximised in the crop rotation.
The total potato acreage in The Netherlands is approximately 160.000 ha, divided in 40.000 ha seed potatoes, 45.000 ha starch potatoes and 65.000 ha industrial and table potatoes.
The total acreage of onions is approximately 30.000 ha.
The Dutch use case is dedicated to the table potato and onion value chains in the South of The Netherlands. In this area has many growers specialized in the production of table potatoes and onions.
- Key challenge for the growers in the area is to develop an economic viable sustainable and climate smart production system.
- Product buyers request more and more sustainable production methods. This is the reason that they request farmers to become ‘Planet Proof’ certified.
- This certificate demands ‘extra-legal’ measures from farmers for crop protection, fertilisation, soil and water management and biodiversity. Smart farming technologies can provide help to achieve these goals.
- Higher production costs, not payed for in the value chain.
- Efficiency of smart farming technology (cost benefit).
- Little knowledge and experience with ‘circular agriculture.
- Conflict of interest for part of the stakeholders.
- Changes in business models of stakeholders.
- Rewards in the value chain.
- Cost price dominated value chains.
- Use of CAP money.
- Limited influence/impact on private value chains.
- Policy instruments to support sustainable development.
- Better soil quality and carbon storage.
- Higher water use efficiency with use of soil moisture sensors.
- More resilient, sustainable and climate smart cropping systems, leading to lower pesticide input and less emission to the environment.
- Increased adoption of smart farming technologies in the context of sustainable/climate smart/circular cropping systems.
- Viable economic business model for farmers.