The rapid progress of digitalisation  provides new opportunities to enable traceability,  quality, and  the efficiency of production across the entire  bioeconomic value chain from production to consumption

For this very purpose a new form of cooperation between science, industry, politics, and the general public is necessary. With the goal to harness expertise from various fields the “Innovation Initiative ‘Agriculture 4.0’” was started in 2016 by the Leibniz Research Alliance ‘Food & Nutrition’ and a position paper was published.

The amount of data that is being collected within bioeconomic value chains has risen drastically with the advancing of digitalisation. This opens up the opportunity to describe the complexity of agricultural value chains that rely heavily on the interactions of plants and animals with their surroundings and can vary in their productivity and needs, in their entirety while assessing it in regards to its sustainability.

Ideally, ‘Agriculture 4.0’ could help meet the societal demands as well as the individual needs of producers and consumers better than has been possible before. On a regional as well as on a global level, fortified information networks and new documentation methods are making the production of foods and bio-based commodities more transparent. For the members of the Initiative ‘Agriculture 4.0’ isn’t just the multi functionality of agricultural production systems but also the connection of down- and upstream processes in the context of bioeconomy.

The innovation initiative has set a goal to connect societal interests and consumer demands for the quality of a product and the transparency of processes with its production.

In actualising ‘Agriculture 4.0’ society, economy, industry and politics face a range of challenges. Besides interdisciplinary research an especially well connected group of experts, from various social fields, is vital to the success of this endeavour. These must agree that the new quality and quantity of data collection and decision making plays a major role in knowledge-based bioeconomy as a part of ultimately more sustainably productive agri-food  systems.

With the position paper and the research initiative, key questions are tackled, e.g. barriers which limit the potentials of digitalisation being realised and how these barriers can be overcome, how multidisciplinary research approaches could help to identify and close those gaps which constitute barriers to bringing out the full potential of digitalisation.

By encouraging knowledge transfer, politics and administration, producers, business and consumers were reached e.g. in the scientific service and in a hearing in the German parliament, as well as in a podium discussion at the Global Forum for Food and Agriculture 2019.


  1. Leibniz-Werkstattbericht Landwirtschaft 4.0

    Chancen und Risiken für eine nachhaltige Agrarwirtschaft

    In der modernen Landwirtschaft werden bei der Produktion von Lebensmitteln bereits vielfältige Daten erhoben — beispielsweise über intelligente Technik, die den Landwirt beim Ackerbau entlasten soll. Diese Daten lassen sich auch für eine klima- und umweltfreundliche, nachhaltige Produktion sinnvoll nutzen.

    Leibniz-Werkstattbericht Landwirtschaft 4.0: Chancen und Risiken für eine nachhaltige Agrarwirtschaft

  2. Positionspapier 'Innovationsinitiative Landwirtschaft 4.0

    Die aktuellen Entwicklungen im Bereich der Digitalisierung, Technik und Technologien erfordern eine Vernetzung bioökonomischer Wertschöpfungsketten und interdisziplinäre Lösungsansätze. Hierzu werden Kooperationen zwischen Wissenschaft, Industrie, Politik und Zivilgesellschaft notwendig.

    Positionspapier 'Innovationsinitiative Landwirtschaft 4.0

Prof. Dr. Reiner Brunsch
Leibniz Research Alliance 'Food and Nutrition'
c/o Leibniz Institute for Agricultural Engineering and Bioeconomy e.V. (ATB)
T 0331 5699 105