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Interview Details

Interview with Jan Hadders

  • Founder of Dacom, Dacom
  • Dated: Friday, January 28th 2011

  • EWP: In terms of quantity, the agricultural sector is one of the largest consumers of water in Europe. From your point of view, how receptive are farmers to reduce impacts on water ecosystems by using innovative technologies?

    Jan Hadders: Innovations are generally initiated by a small group of advanced farmers. This group is not motivated by economic principles on the short term. However, the majority of farmers will need an incentive to invest in new technologies. Especially for the reduction of the impact of farming on water ecosystems as this is only significantly achieved with a cooperative action of all regional farmers. The individual farmer will only invest in new technologies if there is a good return on his investment. Putting a value on irrigation water stimulates investments in irrigation management systems.


    EWP: In the 1980s, you developed an innovative system called the “Agri Yield Management” (AYM) which provides growers around the world with practical solutions for sustainable agriculture. Could you please outline the concept?


    Jan Hadders: Basically AYM is the smart integration of the use of scientific knowledge, sensor systems, information technology including internet and crop data to give the farmer decision support information during the growing season. All collected information gets stored centrally and can be shared with the farmer, his advisor, supplier or processing company. Data exchange can take place by a standalone PC, the web or PDA.


    EWP: How did you come up with the idea?
     

    Jan Hadders: Being a farmer myself I used some of the early software packages available in the late 1980s. Basically these systems could only be used for crop administration. They provide insight in what I had done right or wrong, but only afterwards. This triggered my interest to develop a system that would support a farmer with advice during the growing season. In the mid 1990s I could make this dream a reality by developing a potato Phytophthora infestans disease model. The model was developed from scratch and made maximum use of the possibilities of information technology. From here on more real time services were developed by Dacom. At the same time, internet technology took off and the rest is history.


    EWP: What are the concrete benefits for the farmers to use “Agri Yield Management” systems? And is this technology applicable to every farmer or is the system subject to certain conditions?


    Jan Hadders: The benefits for the farmer are only based on economic principles. He needs a sufficient return on his investment in the Dacom system. This can be through a direct cost reduction because of less input costs or a higher price for his product because of better control of pests and diseases. The system is used by farmers with more than 10.000 hectares and we’ve also done a demonstration to supply a group of small Zulu farmers with advice through their cell phones. To make the system useful, there should be an issue to be solved. Whether this is controlling a fungus disease or an irrigation management issue.


    EWP: To conclude, how do you assess Europe’s water future? And what is your personal vision when it comes to sustainable water management in agriculture?

    Jan Hadders: Sustainable water management in agriculture will hinge on a number of parameters. From a farm management point of view there are two important aspects: weather extremes will happen, e.g. longer drought and excessive rain periods. Attention has to be given to the condition of the soil for the water holding capacity and the use of automated soil moisture sensors to apply irrigation water only when needed and in the right amount. These extreme conditions also demand a different approach to disease management. The use of proper models is a necessity to adapt spraying intervals to the changing weather conditions.

    As public pressure on farming in Europe will increase, initiatives for sustainable farming have to be taken. In principle the European farmer is able to meet this challenge. From this point of view it is to be expected that the processing industry will take the lead in creating transparency in the ongoing process of the development of sustainable farming.

    With the ability to produce large volumes of products in a sustainable and transparent way I foresee good opportunities for European agriculture in relation to a total water management.


    EWP: Thank you for the interview.

  • Jan Hadders
  • Founder of Dacom, Dacom
  • Between 1970 and 1976 Mr. Hadders lived in Ontario, Canada. In partnership he managed a company in the design and construction of private hobby greenhouses and public greenhouses. In 1976 he moved back to the Netherlands with his family to take over the family farm. During the farming period, Mr. Hadders served for 13 years as chairman of the Council of the Cooperative Agricultural Equipment Combination of Emmen. For the Cooperative Starch Company Avebe he served 14 years on the District Council. In 1987, Mr. Hadders established Dacom, an innovative high-tech company that develops and supplies Agri Yield Management systems to arable farms around the world. As a practicing grower he recognized the need of the agricultural market to make use of upcoming automation. His vision is to move the company forward, based on the added value for the growers with a high quality product. Providing a comprehensive advice for complex pest” and irrigation control problems as they occur in today’s crop production will generate the expected added value. As a result, Dacom is currently active in countries around the world and advisory modules are developed for a range of crops and diseases. Most recently, Dacom is partnering with the EWP in the DESIRAS project which addresses the urgent challenge of desertification in the Southern regions in Europe.
"Farmers will need an incentive to invest in new technologies"

- Jan Hadders
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