“We believe that most rural areas in Brazil can have access to 4G connection over the next few years.”
Gregory Riordan, vice president of ConectarAGRO association and director of digital technologies at CNH Industrial for Latin America.
AgriBrasilis – What is ConectarAGRO and how did it originate?
Gregory Riordan – ConectarAGRO is an association of companies. We aim to expand internet access in various Brazilian agricultural regions, providing direction and security so that farmers can adopt technologies where connectivity is needed.
The mission is to encourage and promote technological solutions for connectivity that can revolutionize farming, facilitating integration and management of the production chain, and increasing quality and competitiveness of farmers.
Motivated by what best meets current and future applications, we argue that the most fitting option for rural connectivity is 4G at 700MHz.
The idea came about as a result of a common problem faced by farmers and companies in the sector, which is the lack of internet connectivity in rural areas, preventing effective use of digital technologies offered in the market. Lack of connectivity in the countryside harms farmers, who have agricultural machines that are increasingly more digital.
Integration of several companies will allow a 360° analysis of this problem, enabling the large-scale implementation in the country’s farms.
AgriBrasilis – ConectarAGRO wants every Brazilian agricultural area to have network coverage in six years. How will this be possible and at what cost?
Gregory Riordan – We believe that most rural areas in Brazil can have access to 4G connection over the next few years. Programs created using resources from the Fund for Universalization of Telecommunications Services (FUST) and the 5G auction will be important to expand connectivity even in the most remote areas.
We are also carrying out studies on connectivity models for agricultural cooperatives alongside Esalq and the Organization of Brazilian Cooperatives – which has representation on the FUST collegiate, alongside the National Industry Confederation.
The 5G auction targets will be closely monitored, such as those requiring 4G coverage on federal highways.
AgriBrasilis – Increasingly sophisticated agricultural machinery requires connectivity. Is there any room for farmers who does not update himself?
Gregory Riordan – Without the use of technology, farmers can’t take advantage of 100% of what the most sophisticated machines have to offer. Where there is no connection available, there is loss of effectiveness, time and money, as managers and farmers are unable to make more qualified and immediate decisions.
Current technology allows real-time information on farming operations and soil and weather conditions. Restricting themselves to solutions that do not use connectivity to improve efficiency can be a huge disadvantage for farmers.
AgriBrasilis – Can connectivity in the rural areas be an ally of sustainable production?
Gregory Riordan – The technology is perfect for incorporating sustainable practices in the field. With the development of digital agriculture, there are many benefits for the Brazilian agricultural market, which gains agility and assertiveness in decision-making, increased production, optimization in the use of inputs and farm monitoring.
Farmers are able to manage cultivation based on secure agronomic data about their crops, using information available in Big Data. With digital agriculture, a large amount of data and information is processed, consolidated and analyzed and it is possible to generate more precise recommendations, such as the indication of the best planting time, adequate fertilization, performance of each plot of land, amount of seeds to be sown or of pesticides to be applied, among others. All this together promotes the reduction of waste, better use of water, among other examples, making agribusiness much more sustainable.