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    Belgian farmers hesitant about using new technologies

    © Belga

    Farmers are still hesitant about interconnected tools such as the Internet, social networks, GPS, robots and management software, even though most feel they would help reduce their ecological footprint.

    This is one of the findings of a survey conducted by Ipsos for CBC Bank and insurance with 400 Walloon farmers, less than two weeks ahead of the Libramont Agricultural Fair.

    The poll shows that 63% of Walloon farmers are connected while 37% are not. Among those connected, just 22% use new technologies such as GPS, connected sensors, connected weather sensors or robots. while 63% just use the “classic” tools (Internet, e-mail, social networks).

    There is also a generational gap: young people are generally more inclined to use new technologies, according to the study.

    Among those using the Internet for professional purposes, 67% feel connected tools will help them reduce their ecological footprint, especially GPS teleguiding, connected rain gauges and weather stations, robots and connected sensors.

    The farmers expect these tools to help reduce their use of inputs such as fertilizers and phytosanitary products, decrease their energy dependency, and foster the implementation of measures favourable to biodiversity.

    They are also aware of the positive economic spinoffs the connected tools could have in terms of industry-related communication, but also communication with their peers, for example for sharing good practices.

    Yet, only 15% of those who use the Internet for their work said they intended to invest in new technology in the next two years. Many of the farmers cited cost, lack of time, data-protection issues, the complexity of connected tools and reticence to novelty and change as factors inhibiting the use of such tools.

    Oscar Schneider
    The Brussels Times