Sustainable Precision Agriculture and Lean Farming

Sustainable Precision Agriculture means precise knowledge and management of productive factors in accordance with economic, environmental and social sustainability. In terms of procedures and resources required in the production process, a very useful management model can be adopted, namely the Business Model Canvas (BMC). BMC gives entrepreneurs a clear understanding of what factors, actors and resources are key to adding value.

With regards to the management of daily activities, the method of Lean Manufacturing, which has been already introduced in the agri-food industry, is a crucially innovative and efficient approach.

“The lean guide”, been developed by the Australian Grape and Wine Authority since 2014, represents a milestone in applied Lean Production, for what concerns the optimization of wineries’ production processes.

Discussing SPA without taking into consideration 1) a method of identification of the most suitable technologies (BMC analysis) and 2) a method for a regular improvement of processes’ efficiency (Lean Manufacturing), doesn’t allow for the necessary step from research to business.

Hence, we must be aware that the digital and technological revolution brings about the need for a change in mindset, from “farmer” to “agricultural entrepreneur”.

First step is to rethink traditional principles and to avoid approaches like:

  • If it works, there is no need for inspection!
  • We don’t need to change!
  • It’s always been done this way!

Second step is to start thinking lean, adopting a pragmatic approach in order to identify opportunities and reduce waste and non-value adding activities. This can be applied to the production process in its entirety and to every phase of it, and can get done by metrics’ based analysis.

Third step is ensuring that anyone in the process is actively involved and contributing to Lean at different levels of engagement from simple operations to the whole production processes.

The “Lean Guide” provides with detailed methods on lean approach at the winery chain level, but the challenge is to apply it to farming, with its environmental, seasonal, and structural diversity.