A discussion with the organic sector on sharing data for digitised mass balances

Published on
January 17, 2022

Last year, Wageningen Economic Research (WEcR) invited a number of organic arable farmers, dairy farmers and their buyers to an open discussion with Skal and research associates from Wageningen Research.

The workshop was an opportunity to discuss the willingness of actors in the sector to share data, and how it might be done. The discussions were led by Bionext. The question at the heart of the meeting was: what would be the implications of these businesses sharing their digital data? “If administrative issues have already been checked digitally before the Skal inspection, that may create more room for the visual inspection,” said one participant.

Research project

The workshop is part of a multi-year research project on digitising the mass balance part of the organic inspection. This project, in turn, is part of the broader Precision Agriculture 4.0 programme led by Wageningen University & Research (WUR). The aim of the research is to enable clear, high-quality digital mass balance inspections in the future. The project also aims to provide an insight into the digital data sources available for the calculation of these digital mass balances. Such data sources might include administrative details (such as quantities and litres) and plot registrations, but can also include contributions from external digital sources in relation to general weather conditions, for example.

Sharing data

The anticipated benefit of digitising mass balances is a reduction in the time spent on administrative tasks, leaving more time for on-site inspections at the farm. The meeting discussed the importance of being able to ascertain at an early stage which factors have influenced the mass balance. Data ownership was also mentioned as a subject of interest. The project is expected to address the question of how farmers can grant permission for data sharing.

Skal Biocontrole

Skal’s participation in this research project reflects its long-term vision. One of the five starting points articulated in this vision is an ambition to keep the costs of certification and supervision as low as possible through innovation and digitisation. It is also in line with EU requirements in relation to digitisation.

The workshop received positive feedback from participants. The ideas and opinions put forward are of value to the on-going development of the research project. The workshop will steer the modelling and organising of the initial data sources.