The German government plans to invest five billion euros to expand digital infrastructure. Part of that means providing high-speed internet (5G) in rural regions. Research Minister Anja Karliczek said a few months ago, “We don’t need 5G on every single milk churn.” However, 50% of Germany’s economic output takes place in rural areas.
Expanding 5G will help enable the broad adoption of precision farming and application of artificial intelligence on fields. Both are extremely important for fertilizer to be applied exactly, in order to protect resources and ensure each plant receives the amount of nutrition it needs. Robotic milking helped farmers greatly in the 1990s, freeing them up as fixed milking times became a thing of the past.
Sensor technology will be used to identify cows that are unwell through the sound of their footsteps, for example. It is important that farmers identify such illnesses early on and sensors can perform better than the human eye, by recording the sound of hooves, which is then checked by an algorithm for irregularities. Another company uses ultrasound for this. Any animal showing indications of illness is automatically brought to a stall where its hooves are washed and treated. It is not yet clear when such systems can be used in practice, but these and similar digital systems will be part of the future. Rapid data transmission and processing are a prerequisite for these developments and many others.
Dear Ms. Karliczek, we definitely – urgently – need 5G on each and every milk churn.