Technology and precision farming the new norm in agriculture

3 min read 05 May 2020

Farming today differs significantly from that of a few years ago. The 4th Industrial Revolution, together with the Internet of things, has introduced major technological advancements to precision farming. More recently, Artificial Intelligence (AI) developments have enabled today’s farmer to use electronic equipment and related data sets to automate various farming processes. Through the collection and processing of data, AI is assisting the farmer with automated decision making and becoming the new norm within agriculture. We can no longer ignore these benefits for precision farming and a special focus on the insurance of these advanced pieces of equipment has become inevitable.

Emil Pretorius, Santam Business Development Manager, explains the cover for electronic equipment, and the new enhancements forming part of the Electronic Equipment section of the Agriculture policy. These enhancements are aligned with the new agricultural practices, which are now part of a farmer’s business.

“Providing specialist risk solutions for electronic equipment over a number of year’s means we have developed a detailed understanding of insuring these items,” says Emil.

These pieces of electronic equipment are much riskier than other farm assets, resulting in physical loss or damage due to lightning, power surge, electrical, mechanical or electronic breakdown and theft of these items.

“Santam Agriculture recently revised the Electronic Equipment section of policies and added some enhancements,” says Emil.

What are the main enhancements to the Electronic Equipment section?

Emil explains that special attention was given to enhance cover. The policy wording provides cover for loss of or damage to the insured property from any cause not otherwise excluded. 

Electronic equipment will be covered within that part of the building, in transit or temporarily at any premises en route. An example for the livestock farmer is precision livestock farming equipment used for the continuous monitoring of animals. Dairy farmers know the advanced use of this equipment for data collection on milk yields at milking parlours. The data collected in areas such as animal health, fertility and production are being used for the management of livestock. The electronic equipment, together with the software, needs to be insured under this section.

Emil explains that cover for insured property like a laptop, tablet or other similar portable electronic equipment designed to be carried by a person, including cover for theft or burglary, will now be provided anywhere in the world. As part of data collection, crop farmers are increasingly making use of drones and cameras to measure the maximum potential yield, soil nutrition and impact of weather and rainfall results, all with optimal benefits to the farmer. The camera and software need to be insured under this section. The drone needs to be insured with Santam Aviation to provide for liability cover.

Another enhancement is cover for insured property of a specialist nature. Items such as GPS navigation systems, control systems, sensors, telematics and automation equipment will enjoy cover at or away from the insured premises, in any location (other than a building) or vehicle. An example is the AMS devices (Auto Pilot) for tractors or combines. Crop farmers often use various electronic instruments like soil nutrient testers or sensors for the measurement of soil nutritional levels.

Emil says the section was enhanced in respect of consequential loss with an extension for business interruption. This is important cover for the loss of profit following the damage to or loss of an insured item. One can also no longer ignore the loss of data. Reinstatement of data is available under this section.

Although investment in these technologies comes at a high cost, the contribution towards the farmer’s success is significant. It is therefore important for the farmer to attend to the insurance of these items to ensure the long-term sustainability of the farm. Santam is known for being the partner of choice of our farmers and is committed to assisting farmers with their insurance needs related to smart farming.