NEWS

Smart electronics help in presence of fierce competition

Not all the plain of Thessaly is being plowed and irrigated via satellite. But electronically assisted farming, now common in other European countries and the United States, is gaining ground in Greece as well. Farmers who adopted new technologies are benefiting from lower production costs, improved product handling, less effort and environmental protection. The undisputed star of this year’s Agrotica Fair was the tractor that plows and sows with the aid of a satellite navigation system. Drivers are able to sit in the air-conditioned comfort of the cabin, listen to CDs, watch DVDs or chat on their mobile phones. Odysseas Gadranidis studied engineering but became a farmer in Paralimnio, Serres, in northern Greece. He has a tractor with a GPS, computer-controlled irrigation, and a pump that can be remotely controlled by mobile phone. He told Kathimerini he was planning to get a station that matches meteorological data with crop types and gives pest warnings. «As a family business, we decided to invest in technology rather than in labor. Investing in technology and machinery is more profitable than the old system where you had a lot of laborers in the fields, very hard work and high expenses. A successful farmer must spend at least half the time away from the field. You have to be a meteorologist, horticulturalist and laborer. There is no school that can teach you all that. You can only learn it from experience. The Internet is a great ally.» The plain of Lagada, Thessaloniki, produces large quantities of cow’s milk. «The competition is so fierce that dairy farmers will survive only by adopting new technologies,» Giorgos Kefalas, president of the Dairy Farmers’ League of Greece, told Kathimerini. He has a modern farm with 160 dairy cows and has invested in the latest technology. His equipment includes an ultramodern machine that milks 20 cows at once while electronically controlling the quality of the milk and monitoring the output of the animals and the feed they consume.