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“Farmers Are Drowning in Data”

Technology is playing an increasingly large role in the Icelandic farming and agriculture landscape, RÚV reports. According to Sigtryggur Veigar Herbertsson, a consultant with the Icelandic Agricultural Advisory Centre (RML), farmers around the country have already started making use of such technological innovations as automated milking machines, GPS trackers on sheep, and self-driving tractors. Automated feeding machines have also started making an appearance in barns around the country.

Technologies such as GPS water management systems are becoming increasingly important to farmers as they deal with climate change and its consequences, such as drought, Sigtryggur says. But while there is a comparatively high proportion of technologies such as automated milking machines in use in Iceland, says Sigtryggur, Icelandic farmers still “…lag a little behind in drone and soil cultivation technology.” There are companies in Iceland that use drones to detect and map vegetation around the country, but this technology has not yet been used for agricultural purposes in Iceland. By contrast, in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, drones are often used to map out routes for self-driving tractors and to spread different quantities of fertiliser according to the needs of various crops.

The technological devices that are already in use in Iceland are also collecting enormous amounts of data that has yet to be fully exploited by farmers. This data could potentially be of use in improving agriculture practices says Sigtryggur, but as of yet, it has proven difficult for farmers to parse effectively. “Farmers are drowning in data,” he remarked, explaining that RML is in the process of going through this excess of information. Much of it comes from milking machines, says Sigtryggur, and he’s hopeful that this wealth of information can be made usable for farmers in the near future.

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