Thus, during an event organized by the Embassy of the Netherlands in Romania, which we attended, as well, speakers have discussed the challenges and the opportunities in the sector of sustainable farming in the context of climate change and geopolitical pressures.

Willemijn van Haaften, the Ambassador of the Netherlands in Romania, stated that "despite the geographical differences between our countries, the Netherlands and Romania share a rich tradition in the field of agriculture and that is why we know it is important to bring agriculture in the 21st century and to collaborate in order to develop sustainable ways to feed the population."

Teofil Dascălu is the CEO of Romanian company Frizon Group and also a farmer who practices sustainable and circular agriculture. He also collaborates with many famers from Romania, but also from abroad, who share his vision.

Frizon started its activity back in 2013 and currently manages and farms some 4.500 hectares of land in Romania and it is one of the main companies in our country that also focuses on the idea of precision agriculture.

In order to do this, the team collaborates with farmers who are opened to applying these practices and it uses next-generation equipment and software solutions in order to automate as many processes as possible. The main crops the team plants on rotation are corn, sunflower, soya and wheat.

The first fully digitalized Romanian farm

At the same time, back in 2021, the Frizon team was able to set the foundation for the first fully digitalized farm in Romania, with an integrated system of IoT devices, such as sensors, automated tractors and communication solutions.

The purpose of these solutions is to maximize production and the performance of the crops, while reducing the risks, at the same time.

"Over the past four years, Romanian farming faced extraordinary drought, we are on a constant fight with climate change and because of that we are pioneers in adopting new ways to cultivate the soil, so that we can prevent these changes or at least, reduce their impact", Teofil explained.

He said that the need for new solutions and technologies came, especially in Romania, as he and his team were working the land some 14 years ago.

Back in 2009, in order to fertilize one hectare of land, Teofil would need four men for the time and resource-consuming process. Now, however, all he needs is one automated tractor, which helps him reduce time and also use the resources he has at hand much more efficiently.

"Now we started to work the land in a way so that we don't disturb it, we understood what conservative agriculture means, what it means to put carbon in the soil, how to put it in the soil and why you should put it there in the first place", Teofil added.

Maximum precision for optimized resources

Precision agriculture also has another component to which the farmer pointed, this being a hardware-software one and it refers to treating the plants in a more efficient way, regarding the efficient use of resources, as well as the proper development of the crops.

So, in order to fight bitterweed, the CEO of Frizon said that his team can use camera and sensor-based irrigation devices, which use such solutions for object-recognition to only use the amount of liquid that's necessary. Thus, the consumption of herbicides can drop by as much as 70%.

As carbon capture is an important component to Teofil's business, but also to other industry members worldwide, which is why besides keeping emissions underground, his company also planted 120 hectares worth-of forests.

Among the drawbacks mentioned by the expert in sustainable agriculture are the high initial investment, as well as the fact that the market is not yet mature.

As we said it in the past on Green Start-Up, cover crops play a major role when practicing sustainable farming and the same can be said for Frizon.

Teofil explained that through planting giant radish, which are not harvested or consumed, the carbon and the nitrogen are being kept in the ground and the soil is kept fertile for the crops that are destined for consumers.

The benefit of this cover crop is that it simply dries, but the roots keep underground the substances that we can't use, butt that other crops can utilize in order to thrive and another strong-suit is that the land doesn't need plowing.

Organic fertilizing is the key to a bio farming production

According to Teofil, by using organic fertilizers, such as manure, farmers can grow cultures that have a lower impact on the planet and they can also help discourage the use of polluting chemicals.

Using bird manure, such as that of hen, Frizon ensures that it has plenty of natural fertilizer that doesn't harm the planet, but that helps vegetables and cereals to grow in a healthy way. This is also one of the greenest agricultural practices used by Dutch farmers.

By 2026, Frizon aims to build its first windmill and to begin the production of green anhydrous ammonia as fertilizer, as well as to increase the cultivated area it manages by another 1.000 hectares. At the same time, to ensure the circularity when it comes to natural fertilizers, the company wants to produce 30.000 tons of manure-made compost.