Precision Farming

Precision Farming and Its Importance in Agriculture’s Future

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What is precision farming?

Precision farming is the same as precision agriculture. This is a concept of farming management that makes use of different technologies such as IT, machinery, GPS, and software to make sure that the crops and the soil receive what they require for receiving optimum productivity and health. Different precision farming systems can help ensure sustainability, protection of the environment, and ensure profitability. Precision agriculture is also known as satellite agriculture since farming and site-specific crop management require satellite imaging and GPS systems.

Precision farming vs Precision Agriculture

The practice of precision agriculture is implemented by precision farming. Precision agriculture technologies are what the concept relies upon. The IT and software services include approaches such as accessing real-time data about the soil, air, condition of the crops, and other relevant information such as hyper-local weather predictions, equipment availability, and labor costs. Additionally, software such as predictive analytics ones can use the data to provide the farmers with guidance about optimal planting times, crop rotations, soil management, and harvesting times. The use of drones in precision agriculture is becoming quite prevalent as well. 

Sensors in the fields can also measure the moisture content and the temperature of the surrounding air and soil. Robotic drones and satellites can provide farmers with real-time images of individual plants. Their information can easily be processed and then integrated with sensors and with other data to yield guidance to implement and draft future decisions. These decisions range from functions such as which fields to water, when to plant a crop and where to plant a crop as well.

The agricultural control centers can integrate the data received from the sensors, and the imaging input from other data to provide the farmers with an ability to identify the fields that require treatment and then determine the optimal amount of water, pesticides, and fertilizers to apply. Precision farming systems then help the farmer avoid a waste of resources and prevent surface run-off, which yields to eutrophication, to help ensure that the soil has the right amount of additives for optimal health. This can also be used to control the environmental impact and reduce operational costs.

Previously, precision agriculture was only limited to larger operations which could be used to support the IT infrastructure and other tech resources as well to completely implement and take advantage of the immense benefits provided by precision agriculture. Today, smart sensors, cloud computing, drones, and mobile apps can be used to make precision agriculture possible for farming corporates and even small family-owned farms.

Importance of Precision Agriculture

The farmers are mostly aware of where their fields have a high yield across their landscape. These variations can then be traced to management practices, environmental characteristics, and soil properties. The soil characteristics that yields depend upon include moisture, texture, structure, nutrient status, landscape position, and environmental characteristics. The environmental characteristics include weeds, diseases, insects, and weather. They are also used in livestock farming. For instance, in precision livestock farming drones are used to keep an eye on the stock and protect it from impending danger. 

If a farmer has a complete information database about how to treat the different areas in the field in the field, they can effectively implement their observations by the trial and error method but with a much lesser calculated risk. Today it is difficult to manage the field conditions without precision agriculture because of factors like changes in areas, climate change, and larger farm sizes due to annual shifts in the leasing arrangement. 

Precision agriculture can also offer the potential to automate and then simplify the analysis and collection of information. This also allows wiser management decisions to be made quickly and then implemented in small areas or within larger fields.

 The advantages of precision farming

Precision farming has been on the path of exponential growth for well over a decade in the world. It was initially a mechanism that could be used to adjust the fertilizer rates in the surrounding low, medium, or high zones of a field. As agronomic research and technology improved, we now see an increase in the use cases of precision farming tools, but we note even stronger and more beneficial outcomes that are associated with stacking carious practices and technologies together. Here are some ways precision farming can benefit your farm.

  1. Cost savings

One of the primary advantages of precision agriculture is the ability to precisely reduce fertilizer, pesticide, or seed rates in regions where they would be ineffective.

  1. Increased Sustainability

Ensuring that agricultural input materials are applied to the plant and not elsewhere in the environment results in not only a better bottom line, but also a safer environment and, in the future, access to new markets for your crops. 

  1. Enhanced Profitability

Increasing yields by implementing high-resolution agronomic concepts while lowering expenses boost overall profitability. Farmers Edge, via its innovative use of technology, provides one of the industry’s most affordable and high-value packages.

  1. Growth in Land Value

Precision is a key practice to doing things perfectly with maximum efficiency from an agronomic perspective. When you use practices that can improve land utilization, you know the true worth of your land. This can help drive the value of land prices.

  1. Increased Harvestability

The capacity to assess agricultural nutrient levels and soil types across the farm is one of the most significant benefits of precision agriculture. We know that not all fields and geographies are made the same, which can affect the quantity of nitrogen mineralization, water holding capacity, and other factors. When we understand these variations, we may avoid over-applying nitrogen, which can cause lodging, or we can enhance nutrients like potassium, which aid growth in regions where such nutrients are deficient. To top it all off, we can undertake VR desiccation, which means we can use less desiccant on hilltops or sandy areas and more in low locations to ensure your crop can be harvested with ease.

  1. Improved Seasonal Yield Understanding

Using precision imagery or precision weather services can help to not only gain an understanding of areas of your farm that are experiencing challenges or require additional attention, but we can also provide accurate yield prediction in-season, empowering better decisions from an agronomic perspective as well as for marketing or asset purchasing purposes.

  1. Improved Resolutions Knowledge about Your Farm

Farmers are the most knowledgeable about their land. Precision agriculture enables you to understand why particular regions of your farm underperform or outperform others, providing the foundation for making decisions that continuously improve the farm.

Precision Agriculture Technologies and Methods

There are multiple precision agricultural technologies that are used to implement precision agriculture. These technologies reduce overlap, ensure accurate placement of inputs, and also preserve the conservation structures.

Guidance Systems

Guidance products are classified into two types: light bar/visual guidance and auto-guidance systems. The operator responds to visual signals to direct the equipment based on positioning information given by a GPS in a lightbar/visual guidance system. Prior to starting the auto-guidance mechanism, the driver takes the initial steering decisions and steers the equipment toward the next pass. 

Variable Rate Technology

Variable rate technology refers to the machines and systems used to apply the desired rate of crop production materials at a specific time (and, by extension, a specific location); a system of sensors, controllers, and agricultural machinery is used together to perform input applications for variable-rate crop production. The benefits of variable rate technology are that these 

Automatic Section Control

Turns off application equipment in previously covered areas, or ON and OFF at headland turns, terraces, point rows, and/or no-spray zones like grass waterways. Individual nozzles/rows or sections of a boom or planter can be controlled.

Remote Sensing/Crop sensors

Sensor technology refers to optical sensors that assess crop conditions on the fly. To anticipate agricultural production potential, these sensors use an active LED light source to evaluate NDVI (Normalized Difference Vegetative Index). NDVI readings show the health or “greenness” of a crop and may also be used to calculate relative biomass. The information gathered by these sensors is being utilized to direct variable rate nitrogen sprays in grain crops, as well as plant growth regulators and defoliants in cotton.

Yield Mapping and Monitoring

A yield-measuring gadget that is mounted to harvesting equipment. Yield monitors evaluate grain flow, grain moisture, and other characteristics to provide real-time data on-field production.

These are some examples of how precision agriculture technologies are implemented. The guidance systems, automatic section control, yield monitoring, mapping, and variable rate technology help implement precision agriculture technologies.

Challenges of Precision Agriculture

With the benefits of precision agriculture come challenges as well. Here are a few of the major challenges faced by precision agriculture.

1) Connectivity Challenges

 As technology progresses and the Internet of Things is increasingly a part of the farmer’s arsenal, connectivity becomes an increasing challenge. Relying on a strong internet connection – 4G or higher will be required for many new technologies in precision agriculture – is a gamble when rural locations are often inherent in the business models of customers. Especially in the developing world, but across North America too, a lack of good connectivity will pose a barrier to uptake in technology and slow the rise of precision agriculture. Digital farming can only progress as long as connectivity speeds keep up.

2) Issues in standardizing technology across platforms

As technology’s role in agriculture grows, we are witnessing the peak of a wave of innovation among original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). While the benefits of new technology and advances to the sector cannot be overstated, issues arise when an industry is at the forefront of innovation.

For one example, operational standards across various technologies might vary dramatically, as one company creates interfaces and controls based on completely different conceptual approaches to the same problem. At the time of writing, precision agricultural development is dispersed among multiple industry groups, making adoption of new technologies delayed on the ground. In the future, standardizing technology across multiple platforms will be a major difficulty. 

3) Management of the data In Agriculture

Even a tiny modern farm contains hundreds of thousands of data points from which information may be collected. Trying to grasp this data as it floods daily is unfeasible, and even attempting to analyze it in real-time would be a losing struggle for precision farmers. “A sophisticated approach to data processing will be critical in agriculture on any scale,” says Brenton M. Terrell, Agriculture specialist at Essayroo and OXEssays. “Farmers will need to determine which data points they value and on what time scale, whether daily, monthly, or annually.” This will enable them to concentrate on what they can truly learn from.” 

4) Limited Scalability

Agriculture may occur in any size, from small-scale activities to huge corporations covering hundreds of kilometers. Frequently, the issues encountered by each procedure are identical and necessitate comparable solutions. Any technology that farmers are expected to employ must be scalable to the scale of their enterprise for precision agriculture to take root. Personal gardens and commercial agriculture should be able to use the same precision farming techniques to become more common. Furthermore, for these tools to be optimal, they should be able to self-configure without requiring time-consuming human changes depending on local circumstances. 

5) The rise of vertical farming

“Precision agriculture has so far been designed with traditional agricultural models in mind,” writes Annie Burgos, a journalist at Paperfellows and Stateofwriting, “but for the disruption to genuinely take root, the agricultural models expected to expand in the future must be analyzed.” This new method of farming uses no land and can be a serious competition for land farming.

Where there are benefits there are downsides as well. If you are a farming business, you must seriously consider utilizing precision farming to reap its benefits such as cost savings increased sustainability, enhanced profitability, growth in Land value, increased harvestability, improved seasonal yield understanding, and improved resolutions knowledge regarding your farm.

FAQs

Why precision farming is sustainable?

Precision farming is much more sustainable as it leverages technologies that can enhance its sustainability by using land, fertilizer, fuel, and pesticides more efficiently. So farmers who make use of precision agriculture technologies use fewer resources and grow more which reduces environmental impacts and costs.

What are the drawbacks of precision farming?

Some of the drawbacks of precision farming are that these techniques are still under intensive development which is why it is very important to take the advice of a consultant before you make such expensive decisions. Some drawbacks are:

  1. Highly demanding work when the data is being collected and analyzed.
  2. The initial costs may be extremely high so it should be viewed as a long-term investment.
  3. It may also take several years before sufficient data is gathered to completely implement the system. 

What is the effect of precision farming on the environment?

Precision agriculture leverages technologies that can enhance the sustainability of the environment. 

  • Since fewer resources are used on the same plot of land, the efficiency increases which saves natural resources. 
  • These techniques ensure that the best outcome is reached. The planting decisions are guided by these systems and this results in a low risk of failure which saves environmental resources as well. 

 What is the first stage of implementing precision farming?

The first stage to implement precision farming is the mapping of the yield and the sampling of the soil. These are the first steps as these monitoring systems allow the collection of the geographic yield data and help in the generation of the yield maps. These maps can then be utilized to visualize crop performance variability.

About Folio3 AgTech Practice

Folio3 is a Silicon Valley based Digital Transformation partner for entrepreneurs and Fortune 500 companies with a special focus on digitization of Agriculture, Production and Companion Animal industry. Having worked with some of the world’s leading animal health companies, cattle associations, cow-calf operators, cattle feeders, beef processors and beef marketing companies, we have the design and development expertise required to help you digitize your manual procedures and practices, whether you’re a farm or a ranch owner, veterinarian, feedlot manager, nutritionist, or processing plant owner, we have got you covered.

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