EIMA, the international trade fair for agricultural and gardening equipment held in Bologna from 9-13 November, reached its highest milestone in history at the last event in 2022: the total number of visitors exceeded 327,100. ‘The success of EIMA confirms the growing interest in next-generation agricultural technologies that will enable us to meet the food requirements of a global population that will grow by almost a billion in the next few years,’ comments the president of Federunacoma Alessandro Malavolti, adding that, in this perspective, a trade fair like EIMA will also continue to have an important mission in the coming years. The demand for increasingly sustainable and eco-friendly solutions and the need for practices that produce food with fewer resources and a lower environmental impact will be the most significant challenges in 2023.
After a particularly successful 2021, which saw considerable growth in sales for motorised and hand-operated equipment, the first quarter of 2022 recorded a substantial downturn for all types of agricultural equipment. One of the main reasons for this drop in sales was the weather conditions, which led to a delay in vegetative recovery and, consequently, also in maintenance operations, which in turn resulted in a slowdown in production due to the shortage of raw materials. Federica Tugnoli, Operations Secretary at Comagarden explains, ‘Theriskis that rising production costs will lead to an increase in price lists, which may, in particular, discourage private individuals and hobbyists, who had rediscovered this world during the lockdown.’ As for demand, rising prices and general economic uncertainty related to inflation are discouraging any kind of purchase of machinery by all facilities, both private and public.
The only products not experiencing this downward trend in sales were battery-powered models: the figures for this type of machinery show the highest increase, with figures in excess of 45% for lawn mowers and garden blower/vacs. People are increasingly relying on this type of battery-powered electric farming equipment for many reasons. For hand-operated equipment, one of the main reasons is certainly that it is lightweight and, consequently, easy to manoeuvre. Another reason for this is not only the long battery life and low maintenance requirements but also the fact that, by not directly emitting CO2and other polluting gases, these machines are in line with actions leading towards the much desired energy transition.
The only major problem in adopting this solution is the disposal and recovery of spent batteries: the batteries of electric vehicles are difficult to process due to the flammability of the lithium they contain and to the fact that components such as cobalt and nickel have chemical and physical properties that require complex procedures for their recovery. Fortunately, battery recycling is a relatively recent and developing business, so we can look to the future with optimism and always expect to see new solutions and technologies.
There is one watchword in 2023: ecological transition. After the terrible summer of 2022, saving water became a must for everyone. Companies have started to develop natural agglomerates that retain water in the soil, and private individuals have also started to use tanks and cisterns to collect rainwater. Sub-irrigation systems are a solution that is now often recommended especially for newly planted gardens, and for flowerbeds, hedges and all those situations in which vegetation remains substantially unchanged over time. Other machines that facilitate this ecological transition are robots, which have several eco-sustainable benefits: they are battery-operated, do not use fossil fuels and are not only non-polluting but also have a low noise impact. Consequently, robots are currently being chosen by an increasing number of Italians. Models range from those best suited to lawns of small dimensions, to larger, semi-professional or even professional lawns.