The role of digitalization in the development of bioeconomy businesses

Astrida Miceikienė
Professor dr., Chancellor of Agriculture Academy
Vytautas Magnus University

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is characterized by the rapid development of advanced digital technologies and the globalization of the economy. Today, developments in information technology play a significant role in the economy. New business models and innovative technologies in bioeconomy businesses, especially in agriculture and the food industry, are necessary to ensure that future challenges do not become a global social and political issue.

Bioeconomy businesses can significantly improve their competitiveness by introducing new technologies into their operations. The introduction of more efficient digital systems and other innovative technologies reduces operational time, improves product quality, attracts more consumers, and reaches new markets faster.

The use of innovative digital technologies is transforming the business models of the bioeconomy, generating additional income and value creation opportunities, and is at the heart of the transformation of industrial agriculture into a sustainable bioeconomy. The digitalization of business processes can impact the bioeconomy in several ways: by enabling more efficient cultivation, transport, and processing of biological resources and by better planning of investments for their optimal use. Several core digitalization trends in bioeconomy businesses, shaping new business models in the bioeconomy, are identified.

One of them is the Internet of Things and the use of sensors. Collecting information through the Internet of Things (IoT) – by sensors, machines, and drones capable of delivering information in real-time, which is then stored and processed in the cloud – makes it possible to increase the efficiency of bioeconomy businesses, for instance, by reducing labor cost, monitoring and preparing for adverse climatic conditions that interfere with the production process, tracking the spread of pests and diseases in plants and so on. Sensors strategically placed around crop fields, combined with image recognition technology, allow farmers to view their crops from anywhere in the world. Moreover, business forecasting models based on big data and artificial intelligence make it possible to predict outbreaks of pests and diseases, make recommendations on selecting the best plant varieties, and determine the most appropriate timing for placing products on the market. Sensors embedded in the equipment provide real-time information on yields.

The usage of drones is another trend. Drones are used to assess soil quality by creating 3D images for analyzing and planning sowing and planting techniques. Drones are already being used to spray crops in a way that prevents chemicals from reaching groundwater. The latest research has shown that drones can increase the speed of spraying five times compared to technologies.

Research shows that the introduction of robots in bioeconomy businesses, especially in agriculture, increases livestock productivity and crop yields. Spraying and hoeing robots can reduce the use of agrochemicals by up to 90%. Companies developing robotics technologies for agriculture are experimenting with lasers and cameras to detect and remove weeds without human intervention, developing transplanting robots that bring a new level of efficiency to traditional methods, and testing automation for fruit picking and nut harvesting.

The use of artificial intelligence and machine learning enhances the ability of bioeconomy businesses to run their businesses with the help of smartphone apps. For instance, the use of artificial intelligence in smart cameras installed in livestock barns makes it possible to identify and recognize each animal, determine whether the animal is eating enough or whether it is sick, and display the information on the phone.

Digitalization technologies are opening up new opportunities for the management of bioeconomy businesses at all stages of the agri-food value chain: automation of agricultural processes makes it possible to accurately adjust the quantities of raw materials and inputs used, to reduce the need for manual labor; satellite data and sensors improve the accuracy of monitoring the growth of crops, and the quality of the land or water, all of which reduce costs. Product traceability technologies and digital logistics services can simplify food supply chains while providing reliable information to consumers and boosting the competitiveness of entrepreneurs applying these technologies.

Finally, digital technologies facilitate new trade patterns in agri-food products, connecting sellers and buyers in new markets and enabling authorities to monitor and enforce quality standards and ensure faster and more efficient Border procedures, which are essential for perishable products, etc.

All these technological advances will contribute to achieving the goal of more resilient, productive, and sustainable agricultural and food systems that better meet the needs of consumers.


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