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Pest control in precision agriculture

Pest management in precision agriculture
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Precision agriculture technologies

The principles of precision agriculture mean implementing various technologies such as Geographic Information Systems (GIS), the Global Positioning System (GPS), Variable Rate Technology (VRT), and Remote Sensing (RS) in order to monitor the situation in the agricultural fields and based on the generated data to execute the needed operation properly. As a result of the properly executed operation, the farmer has the ability to control the nutrients in the soil, occurrence of weeds, pests, and diseases on a micro-management level, and ultimately provide the optimal condition to achieve the desired yields.

Pest control in agriculture production systems

Obtaining high yields, especially in climates where predominantly is humid, often requires the application of fungicides in order to get rid of harmful effects of different pests and diseases that can potentially lower the yield or in the worst-case scenario disrupt the whole production season. The pests, as the focus of this article, have their own way of prospering and surviving on the agricultural plots. Various pests have various stages of development, different speeds of going through that stages, and different mechanisms to battle against the environmental effects, as well as the anthropogenic activities i.e. application of pesticides.

Pest control in agriculture is defined as “utilizing environmentally sensitive prevention, avoidance, monitoring, and suppression strategies, to manage weeds, insects, diseases, animals and other organisms that directly or indirectly cause damage or annoyance.” Effective pest management relies on the use of any tools or strategies to reduce the impacts of pests on crops in order to meet landowner objectives.

Precision pest management can be defined as the utilization of technologies and strategies for monitoring, prevention, avoidance, and suppression of pests, diseases, weeds, and other living things that are directly or indirectly disrupting the agricultural production processes. Precision pest management solutions are relying on different tools and methods to reduce the impacts of pests on crops. Such tools and methods are divided into two major distinct categories:

– Tools and methods for monitoring the pest occurrence and presence. In the context of precision farming for this category, there is a utilization of several technologies such as GIS, GPS, and RS.
– Tools and methods for prevention and suppression of pest occurrence. In the context of precision farming for this category, there is a utilization of several technologies such as GIS, GPS, RS, and VRT.

Precision pest control in agricultural systems that implement precision technologies can be realized in two approaches:

Area-wide pest control in agriculture

Area-wide pest management is implemented in order to act preventively on pest outbreaks on a larger spatial resolution where many agricultural plots are included. Acting under this approach means implementing Integrated Pest Management activities and all the available technologies that enable remote sensing of the pest occurrence and their stages of development. The remote sensing technologies implemented in this approach are satellite and UAV imagery with NDVI and hyperspectral indices, GIS software for calculating the area of the affected fields, and agricultural IoTs that can remotely measure the environmental parameters and the presence of pests in order to feed the disease and pest models for forecasting the severity of the outbreak. The IPM methods are used mostly because of their success in offering long-term solutions, preventing major outbreaks, and more sustainable management procedures for growers to use.

Site-specific pest control in agriculture

This approach is the absolute opposite of the approach explained above, which means that the precision pest control is done in a smaller site-specific management zone that can be even found on one individual agricultural plot. Apart from the above-mentioned technologies for monitoring, in this approach, there is also extensive use of the Variable Rate Technology that enables the farmers to act precisely. The methods in this site-specific pest control are more conventional, which means using specific pesticides in order to eradicate the pest or to act alleviate when the damages or the complete development of the pests is already present. In these conditions, the VRT enables the farmers to lower their input costs for pesticides, as well as to reduce the negative impacts on the environment from using such chemicals.

Such a tool as GeoPard allows you to monitor crops, control the soil, and prevent the spread of pests in time.

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