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5 takeaways from Agritechnica 2023

After a four-year break, the crowds returned in force to one of the world’s largest farm shows, and there was plenty to see.

Willie Vogt

November 22, 2023

4 Min Read
Agco exhibit at Agritechnica 2023
PLENTY OF ATTENTION: The Agco exhibit offered a wide range of new tech and tools for farmers to check out. It’s one example of what was available for farmers at Agritechnica 2023.Willie Vogt

Editor’s note: The author has covered Agritechnica for Farm Progress since 2013 and was editorial director for more than 20 years. He came out of retirement to make the trip to Germany for the event and shares some key impressions from this year’s big event.

Getting the call to load up my gear and head to Agritechnica 2023 was a welcome surprise. Covering this big event has been a highlight since my first trip. This year was a little more special given that organizers of the event were coming off a pandemic-caused break. The show, which normally runs every other year, was last at work in 2019.

Plenty has changed in that time, and that was evident on a walk through the show floor. For years, Agritechnica has been a place where companies show off innovative tools and prototypes. While the 2023 event was the first time many saw the new machines, one European journalist said a lot of the tools had been shared ahead of the show. That’s likely one of the bigger changes since 2019: YouTube has become the venue for many manufacturers to reveal their new equipment. Still, there were first-ever unveilings of machines such as the Massey Ferguson 9S tractor line and the New Holland CR11 combine.

Looking through my notes and photos from the show as I prepare more coverage for Farm Progress, I came across a few takeaways from this year’s event:

Related:Crop.zone goes big with plant zapper

1. Autonomy grows. The range of autonomous vehicles on display has expanded tremendously — from machines already commercialized in specialty markets to massive prototypes that will come in a few years. In the United States, farmers are concerned about labor shortages on the farm. Turns out, it’s a big deal in Europe, too.

One exhibitor told me he didn’t think they could get someone from town to work on a farm even for 50 euros an hour (about $53). As a result, the labor shortage is driving the rise of the farm robot, although regulatory hurdles regarding safety still must be cleared.

Soil health is a growing consideration for autonomy. Farm robots can be smaller, making a lighter touch on farmland. It’s not the chief driver, but it came up in several discussions with exhibitors.

2. Regulations drive innovation. While glyphosate did get cleared for use in the region for another decade,  the push to reduce the use of crop protection products is growing. In specialty markets, this is leading to the development of precision tillage tools that can cut between plants as well as move through the row.

You’ll hear farmers and industry folks discuss the rules being made in places like Berlin and Antwerp as being “out of touch” with what agriculture needs. Europe still bans planting of biotech crops, though imports of soybeans and corn with the technology are allowed. Gene editing is still on the bubble, but the European Commission sees its potential for a sustainable and resilient food system.

Related:Agco launches 2 tractors, makes a tech buy

For crop protection companies, the focus is more precision spraying, which means targeting just the weed, not the crop. And precision spraying was a focus for many exhibitors including imagery firms, software makers and equipment manufacturers.

3. Sense-and-act gains traction. This is related to the second point. Regulators want the use of crop protection products reduced, which means turning every sprayer into a “weed only” sprayer. That’s the most visible use of sense-and-act technology, but the rising use of sensors for managing equipment in new ways will likely boost efficiency.

One manufacturer showed off a vision-based system that tracks a tillage tool as it move through the field. If a wing on a shank breaks, the system will know and can alert the farmer long before it would normally be discovered.

Deploying sensors, imaging and other tools to manage equipment was on display throughout the show.

4. Precision ag’s role grows. Social media carried some interesting chatter about carbon. While carbon sequestration is still part of the conversation, the discussion has become broader. The use of precision-ag tools to better manage inputs has expanded to become the backbone of a sustainability effort.

That changes the conversation for farmers who may be able to better deploy data to manage more than carbon on the farm, benefiting both the environment and perhaps the bank account. However, one farm equipment company executive noted that farmers are still not using all the precision information they’re collecting on their farms today.

5. Innovation comes in many forms. Strolling through the many building at Agritechnica shows that technology is being deployed in a variety of new ways. Electric tractors gained some attention, though current battery and horsepower limits keep those tractors confined to smaller farms for now.

Interest is found in alternative fuel sources such as methane and HVO. HVO stands for hydrotreated vegetable oil, which in the U.S. is more commonly known as renewable diesel. It’s the drop-in replacement for fossil-fuel-based diesel, instead of biodiesel. Most manufacturers discussed their engines’ capabilities to use HVO.

Farm shows gather innovation in one place to allow farmers to kick the tires, see tools and talk to experts. The large crowds at Agritechnica 2023 proved that farmers were just waiting for a chance to get back to Hanover, Germany, to check out what’s new.

About the Author(s)

Willie Vogt

Willie Vogt has been covering agricultural technology for more than 40 years, with most of that time as editorial director for Farm Progress. He is passionate about helping farmers better understand how technology can help them succeed, when appropriately applied.

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