An EIT Food project that the University of Reading is involved in, ‘Integrating Precision Farming into Computer Games’, has won an EIT Food Impact award. The Impact Awards were developed to recognise and celebrate the valuable work of the EIT Food community by celebrating activities which are making a real difference and transforming our food system.

The project, which won the Environmental impact award, is co-creating a precision farming module for the videogame “Farming Simulator” to help users experience the multiple benefits of precision farming. The module has the potential to reach a wide audience of farmers, agricultural students and other interested stakeholders.

The project is led by Thomas Engel of John Deere and he received the award on behalf of the project. University of Reading staff involved in the project are Yiorgos Gadanakis, Matthieu Arnoult, Richard Tranter and Alistair Murdoch and PhD student, Tamisan Latherow. Students at both Reading and Hohenheim universities participated in developing and evaluating the aspects of crop production to be included in the module. Farmers are also involved through the partner organisation, Grupo AN in Spain. A key partner is the Swiss video game developer, GIANTS Software.

Precision agriculture has the potential to improve the sustainability of farming practices by increased technical efficiency, better use of inputs, and therefore, a diminished environmental footprint. Despite these benefits, its adoption by farmers remains low. The co-creation of a new module for a farming simulator game is a novel and innovative way to communicate on the multiple benefits of precision farming, to reach a wider audience of potentially interested farmers and other interested stakeholders and to encourage adoption of selected precision farming techniques. This new module was developed in partnership with, and offered by, GIANTS Software. Their Farming Simulator 19 (FS-19) is a highly successful computer game with millions of players worldwide but did not include precision farming options.

The EIT Food project – Integrating Precision Farming in Computer Games – developed a precision farming module for FS-19. This ‘Precision Farming DLC (Downloadable Content)’ can be downloaded free of charge by all FS-19 owners. The DLC was published in December 2020. Since then, the module has been downloaded more than a million times from players all over the world. This tremendous success was recognised by EIT Food as contributing towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals 2, 6 and 15 by indirectly communicating the benefits of more sustainable farming of agriculture. The award was made at the EIT Food partners’ meeting in Malaga, Spain on 19th October 2021.

Thomas Engel of John Deere and Yvonne McMeel of the IFNH at the EIT Food partners’ meeting