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Agricultural digitalisation requires combined expertise

The Swedish Board of Agriculture was to conduct a feasibility study for a national platform for sharing data. So, they needed a partner familiar with both digitalisation and agriculture. They chose RISE. 
“Their experience and expertise in both sectors was necessary for us to be able to complete our feasibility study,” says Frida Sporre at the Swedish Board of Agriculture’s nutritional development department. 

Say the word agriculture and most people think of cows, fields and tractors. However, just like any other sector, agriculture is making great progress within digitalisation. 

“We’ll still see cows and fields and meadows, but think sensors, drones and tablets as well for a more accurate picture,” says Frida Sporre. 

Better data for farmers’ decisions 

An important part of agricultural digitalisation entails offering farmers better data for their decisions, such as by means of sensors for measuring the water and nutrient content of soil for improved water and fertiliser use.  

“This way, we can optimise production and increase harvests. This helps strengthen competitiveness in the sector, which we consider extremely important,” says Sporre. 

However, farmers do not work alone. Instead, they are part of a large network of suppliers, advisors, government bodies and other stakeholders. All involved need to be able to share data in a simple and secure manner, and this was the starting point when in 2020 the Swedish Board of Agriculture received a government mandate to initiate a feasibility study to investigate the possibilities of creating a national platform for sharing such data.    

“This way, we could create the necessary infrastructure to make it easier for the industry to share data,” says Sporre.  

Built a testbed together 

As part of the feasibility study, two external partners were enlisted, including RISE, which had previously worked with the Swedish Board of Agriculture on building an agricultural digitalisation testbed in Uppsala. 

“There were several reasons why we wanted to continue working with RISE even on the feasibility study for the data platform. Firstly, we knew that they had relevant knowledge about both agriculture and digitalisation,” says Sporre. 

Moreover, the fact that RISE is an independent research institute was also important to the Swedish Board of Agriculture in its choice of partner.  

“We needed to be sure that our partner was neutral and focused on society’s best interests. Plus, as work progressed, we’d noticed that RISE is extremely committed, is easy to work with and has an extensive network. Their expertise and ability to ask the right questions greatly helped make this feasibility study possible.” 

RISE is extremely committed, is easy to work with and has an extensive network

Independent partner key 

RISE's most important role was to be this independent party with the deep expertise in digitisation that the Swedish Board of Agriculture itself lacked. In addition, RISE was able to bring in experience from other industries in which other parts of RISE were involved, such as the experience from the work of municipalities to create coordinated data management instead of everyone running their own race. 

Next step – AI 

The feasibility study resulted in a call for proposals, and the work to build the data platform is now well under way. However, this does not mean the end of the partnership between RISE and the Swedish Board of Agriculture. 

“We’re working together in several areas, such as on a project to see how AI can simplify agriculture,” says Anna Rydberg. 

RISE and the Swedish Board of Agriculture are also working together on a project called Agrifood Data Workshop (ADW), which is focused on developing methods and tools for sharing data both securely and lawfully.  

“Thanks to its broad network, RISE can identify and channel much of what is happening in the rest of the world, and this offers the Swedish Board of Agriculture insights we wouldn’t otherwise have access to,” Sporre ends. 

Anna Rydberg

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Anna Rydberg

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+46 10 516 69 55

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