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Farming insider: Emanuele Bortoli, Italy
Since Emanuele Bortoli's great-grandparents first set up the farm in the province of Padua, it has developed into a magnificent family business. Together with his parents, sister, brother and cousins, who also live on the farm, Emanuele is part of a hard-working team. When he is not working, he likes to spend his free time riding his motorbike or taking trips to the beach or the mountains.
Family-owned for four generations
Farm size: 100 hectares
Cultivated crops: Corn, sugar beet, soy, alfalfa and wheat
Reliability and respect form the foundation for how we deal with one another. These are values I've always held in high esteem.
Why did you decide to become a farmer – and can you picture yourself doing anything else? ?
I tried to do something else and to get away from agriculture, but in the end my roots run so deep and are so firmly anchored in this world that I have never found anything that gives me the same sense of satisfaction. As a farmer, I place great emphasis on maintaining respect for the environment and for what we produce. After all, it is crucial that we produce healthy and natural goods, whilst taking the environment into account.
How much do you enjoy your independence?
In the past, independence has meant bucking the trend in the way we do things. Being independent means thinking with your own mind and saying ”No, I believe in something, I believe in moving forward, and I believe in the path we have chosen.“ Independence means deciding what I think is right, taking on challenges, and also being able to say ”no“ every now and again. I decided to become a farmer because we spend a lot of time in the open air, in contact with nature, and so we learn to appreciate the rainy days along with the sunshine. That gives me the feeling of freedom, a feeling of independence – and not being bound by schedules.
How important are respect and teamwork to you?
Respect and appreciation are the foundation of my social relationships. Trusting people and showing respect is the root of everything else. Cooperation and team spirit are values I've always held in high esteem, which is why I am also a partner in cooperatives like the sugar factories or the assembly centers. i.e. in areas where a team makes all the difference, in which coexistence with other farmers is the fundamental strategy when it comes to achieving goals.
How do you approach innovations and new technologies?
To me, technology and innovation are like a drug. Technology has always given me something to help me get ahead, which is one of the reasons we've been following the progress of technology within our company for many years now. Even today, I try to keep up to date through the courses provided by professional associations and to remain in contact with the University of Padua, where information is exchanged about both mechanization and the status of research. This also gives me the opportunity to find out about other opinions and points of view, both here in Padua province and in neighboring provinces. This way, I can compare my business with other important businesses – I really value the cultural exchange about cultivation techniques.
What innovations have you introduced over the last few years?
Being innovative is something we have passed on from generation to generation. For example, we try to remain innovative in the area of precision agriculture, which involves not only data collection, but also prescription maps. We have also introduced machines with satellite systems, parallel controls, geolocalization and yield mapping. We have been developing continually for ten years.
Do you have a dream you hope to fulfil for your business in the future?
It would be nice to see a self-driving tractor out in the fields one day and to be able to steer it from a computer in the office. That might sound impossible, but I believe in the possibility of remotely operated machinery, of being able to manage everything remotely and maintaining control over the situation at the same time.
On the road worldwide. Always closeby.
All farmers have their own character - which is reflected in their way of life, philosophy and the form of farming and livestock breeding. We visited our farmers around the world and wanted to know what makes them successful, what they stand for and what challenges they have to face. A journey across five continents.