Online Workshop Session: Digital innovation for sustainable agriculture

Part of a series of online workshops by SDSN Switzerland and NRP 73 ‘Sustainable economy'

18.06.2020 | 16:00 – 18:00 | online via ZOOM

The costs and benefits of precision agriculture in small-scale agriculture

The NRP 73 research project of Prof. Dr. Robert Finger Digital Innovations for Sustainable Agriculture shows that precision agriculture and other "smart farming technologies" have the potential to make agricultural production more efficient, by producing the same amount or more food with fewer inputs such as fertilizers or pesticides. However, the costs and benefits of precision agriculture are not in a favourable ratio in a small-scale and diverse agriculture like Switzerland. The challenge lies in incorporating the environmental benefits of precision agriculture in the production decisions of farmers.


Objectives of the workshop

  • Presentation and discussion of research findings

  • Discussion of the implications of digital innovations for sustainable agriculture in Switzerland

  • Identification of the contribution of digital innovations to a sustainable agriculture in Switzerland

  • Formulate three calls to action and address them to specific stakeholders


15:45 | Participants join the online workshop

16:00 | Introduction by the facilitator

16:05 | Breaking the ice

16:15 | Input by the session leaders to set the scene

16:30 | Discussion in breakout rooms. Participants are invited to formulate two calls to action based on the research findings.

17:30 | Fishbowl discussion with the session leaders, experts and participants to validate and prioritize the calls to action and discuss how stakeholders can implement them.

18:00 | End of the session

Registration via ZOOM

Click here to register to one or more online workshop sessions

Session leaders & Experts

Session leaders:

  • Prof. Dr. Robert Finger, Agricultural Economics and Policy, Department of Management, Technology, and Economics, ETH Zürich

  • Prof. Dr. Achim Walter, Professor in Crop Science, Institute for Agricultural Sciences, ETH Zürich

  • Dr. Robert Huber, Agricultural Economics and Policy, Dep. of Environmental Systems Science, ETH Zürich


  • Michael Feitknecht, Head of Plant Production / Member of the Executive Board, Fenaco

  • Martin Brugger, Stv. Departementsleiter, Schweizer Bauernverband

  • Dr. Bernhard Streit, Dozent für Verfahrenstechnik im Pflanzenbau, Hochschule für Agrar-, Forst- und Lebensmittelwissenschaften

Further experts to be confirmed

Further reading

Finger, R., Swinton, S., El Benni, N., Walter, A. (2019). Precision Farming at the Nexus of Agricultural Production and the Environment. Annual Review of Resource Economics 11: 313-335 >>

Walter, A., Finger, R., Huber, R., Buchmann, N. (2017). Smart farming is key to developing sustainable agriculture. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 114 (24) 6148-6150 >>


Groher, T., Heitkämper, K., Walter, A., Liebisch, F., & Umstätter, C. (2020). Status quo of adoption of precision agriculture enabling technologies in Swiss plant production. Precision Agriculture



Co- Organizer


SDSN Switzerland
Heinrichstrasse 147, 8005 Zürich

+41 44 512 58 60

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