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Continental: Farmers Seek Sustainable Transformation

Continental infographic on farmers and sustainability

Farmers in five countries on four continents experience the daily impacts of climate change. Sustainability is crucial for their business success and reflects their personal values.

Global Farmers Embrace Sustainability

Mario Branco, Head of Off-Highway at Continental, said, “Farmers have the right attitude towards sustainable change. It is the task of politics and the economy to facilitate and support this change.”

Farmers want to work on sustainable farms and are committed to using resource-saving solutions. These are the findings of the “Agriculture in Transition” study conducted by Continental and the market research institute Innofact AG in the fall of 2023. 503 farmers from five countries were asked about their daily work, concerns, and challenges. The first results of the study were published at Agritechnica 2023. An analysis of the overall results shows that farmers worldwide are open to sustainable change and consider it the most critical task of all.

Climate Impacts Affect Farmers’ Daily Work

Respondents rank environmentally friendly agriculture as the number one factor that will determine the medium-term success of their business, ahead of safety and digitalization. The fact that farmers are concerned about the effects of climate change is hardly surprising, given the accelerating pace of global climate change.

However, the fact that almost two-thirds of respondents (around 63%) experience climate change and its effects, such as changes in weather and environmental conditions, daily illustrates the urgent need for action. Issues that are only indirectly related to climate change are also a pressing concern. For example, more than two-thirds of the farmers surveyed (around 69%) consider soil quality − a critical factor not only for sustainable agriculture but also for the economic success of a farm − to be essential to their daily work.

“We see the remarkably high level of value farmers place on sustainability in our study as a call to action. It is not enough to simply respond to farmers’ demands. As a technology company, we want to lead the way by actively developing and delivering innovative and environmentally friendly technologies. It is our responsibility to equip farmers with the solutions and knowledge they need to manage this change. Through the development of sustainable and advanced technologies, we can help lead agriculture into a future where environmental sustainability and economic profitability go hand in hand,” says Branco.

Farmers Have a Positive Attitude Towards Sustainability

The Continental study shows that farmers are ready to embrace change. The key finding is that this is driven by a personal interest: around eight out of ten farmers (79%) consider it essential to work for a farm that is committed to the environment and proactively addresses the issue of sustainability. For almost nine out of ten farmers (around 87%), the machinery and equipment used on the farm must contribute to sustainability.

However, farmers are also moving from attitude to action: the majority of farmers are committed to managing their farmland in an environmentally responsible way. Around 78% of farmers use more sustainable alternatives to conventional pesticides. They are also motivated to make their use of machinery more sustainable and environmentally friendly.

82% of farmers say using energy-efficient technologies and agricultural machinery, such as vehicles with sustainable drive systems or particularly lightweight machinery, is important. Also important in this context is the predictive maintenance of the machinery used, which one in two farmers (around 50%) considers important. The environmentally friendly use of agricultural machinery is also very popular, with around 53% of farmers giving it high priority.

Technology Manufacturers Under Obligation

Despite these ambitions, the sustainable transformation of agriculture is still too often stalled and needs the support of technology manufacturers. This is also the conclusion of the Continental study. More than one in three farmers (around 37%) would like to see a focus on upgrading existing machinery to use more environmentally friendly technologies while avoiding expensive new purchases.

Around 34% of respondents stress the need for more sustainable technologies. Equipment durability is the most important issue for about 62% of farmers, underlining their efforts to use resources efficiently and sustainably. When it comes to new investments, the environmental impact of the equipment used also plays a key role. 35% of the decision-makers surveyed consider this factor when planning their investments.

“Farmers around the world are facing increasing challenges: growing demand for food, increasing regulations, and visible effects of climate change. In addition to politicians, who can set the framework conditions, it is also up to manufacturers to meet these demands with durable and environmentally friendly technologies,” explains Branco.

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