Hungary, actively searching for best practices in precision agriculture

Hungary has great potential in agriculture. The latest trends are set by digitalization and precision farming - These were the main topics of the annual PREGA conference in February held in Budapest.

Beeld: ©Netherlands Embassy Budapest
PREGAs schedule was packed with talk sessions and lecture panels, bringin together stakeholders and practicioners from various fields.

The 2020 PREGA Conference, Hungary’s number one forum on precision agriculture, was held between February 18-19 in Budapest. One of the biggest events of its kind in Central Europe, PREGA is an annual meeting of the country’s agribusinesses, researchers and practitioners in the field of precision agriculture.

The current big leap in agricultural history is digitalization and precision farming. This was reflected in the event’s program – Alongside Parliament Deputy Speaker István Jakab, the president of the International Society of Precision Agriculture Professor James Lowenberg-DeBoer delivered a keynote speech to the  800-strong audience.

PREGA’s number of visitors is growing steadily every year reflecting the increasing general interest in the topic. This year, The event brought together stakeholders from the fields of arable farming, indoor and outdoor horticulture, fishery, forestry and animal husbandry with a packed schedule of talks and panels.

Participants represented a wide spectrum of companies in size, from the largest integrators and holdings of tens of thousands of hectares to smallholders. There is no doubt that Hungary recognizes precision agriculture as the main approach to enhance efficient production methods, and to address acute labor shortage, attract young generations and decrease pressure on the environment.

Precision agriculture techniques will play key roles in the management of expanding the size of irrigated areas, a government goal that incorporates the increase of irrigated lands up to 300.000 hectares by 2030.

An automated irrigation machine towers over a wheat field.
Beeld: ©Netherlands Branding / Netherlands Branding
Precision agriculture and new technologies set the trends of farming in the 21st century

Precision agriculture and digitalization, a governmental priority

Besides small and big agribusinesses,  financial institutions, government and its connected research institutes also put precision agriculture high on the national agenda.  This policy topic mirrorsEU’s first digital agricultural strategy.

The Digital Agricultural Strategy (DAS) aims to create an enabling policy environment for the incorporation of precision farming technologies into everyday practice, in which technical education is of paramount importance.. Some of the DAS’s main features align with the goals of Netherlands.

The Hungarian Ministry of Agriculture is actively looking into learning from best practices via intergovernmental relations as well. Through the Smart Farmer Programme, the government also aims for nationwide dissemination of study materials, establishing showcase farms and training sites and creating a network of training tutors.

Decreasing “farming utility costs” is a flagship goal: Reducing access fees and simplifying the regulations of accessing public data are central to bringing precision farming closer to stakeholders, especially to small and medium-sized agribusinesses.

On the regulatory side, tailor-made legislation aimed to boost digitalization and specific subsidy schemes will be launched. The regulation on drone usage will also be published soon. The use of drones is getting a strong focus in the emerging pool university postgraduate engineering programmes on PA. The University of Szeged is a good example for this.

Hungary has one of the EU’s most rapidly growing agricultural sectors with favorable climate conditions, availability of thermal water resources, fertile soils and well connected infrastructure in the heart of Europe, Hungary is open for agribusinesses, to share experiences and cooperation in knowledge-transfer with the pioneers of precision farming among the West European partners, with special regards to the Netherlands.