In the world of farming today, the use of the term ‘precision agriculture’ is increasing at an exponential rate and given its power to completely transform the productivity of a farm, the increase is justified and even extremely important. In simple terms, precision farming can be defined as the use of technology and data to determine the type of farm inputs, the level of those inputs, and also the precise location of those inputs within the land.
In traditional farming, the entire plot of land is treated as one whole entity and the inputs are thus applied uniformly over the entire field. This doesn’t align with the actual input requirements for optimal production by the different parts of the land. On the other hand, precision farming recognizes the input requirements of each part of the land by identifying the different intra-field variabilities like the difference in soil properties, slopes, nutrient content, production levels, sunlight reception, and so on.
Precision farming is better than other conventional or traditional farming techniques because it relies on data generated by the use of technology, which is then analyzed by reliable computer programs as well as expert agronomists to make accurate predictions and recommend precise solutions in a timely manner to the farmers. In fact, precision farming can go as far as to actually make those interventions or administer the different inputs in the farm with the help of technology-driven machinery and equipment. Some of these methods used for data collection are field-based sensors, drones, satellite imageries, etc while an example of direct input through precision-agriculture includes the use of robotic devices fitted to GPS-guided autonomous tractors. Overall, precision farming not only makes the farmlands and agribusinesses more profitable but also very sustainable in the long run.
How the Internet of Things (IoT) is used in agriculture today?
Internet of things is considered as the backbone of modern agriculture which is basically the act of connecting objects and devices with sensors to measure the required data and transmit the data via a network. In the case of precision farming, the various things and objects that are included in the IoT include the farmland itself, the crops, weather, machinery, etc. So the use of IoT to achieve increased yield, alleviate operational expenses, and also achieve environmental sustainability is called precision farming.
The utilization of IoT in agriculture today for precision farming is mostly done through AgTech solution providers like GeoPard Agriculture because of the complexity of the processes involved in a holistic precision agriculture practice. For instance, given the developmental stage of a plant, its level of greenness may reveal its nutritional needs. The data on the level of the greenness of the plants are gathered and analyzed using the Crop-Monitoring solution which uses images obtained from satellites like the Landsat and sentinel multispectral images and then creates detailed maps of your land revealing its specific input needs. Similarly, we all know that topography has a large influence on farming decisions like species selection, irrigation needs and determines the final production by controlling aspects like light reception and water retention. So, precision farming solutions like Topography analytics lets you create very accurate topographical models of your farm using elevation, slope, and aspect data obtained from field-based GPS attached to machinery as well as LIDAR and satellite data.
Soil is the most important part of agriculture and the type and quality of soil determine the type, quality, and quantity of farm yields. Hence, understanding your farm’s soil precisely translates to a precise understanding of your input needs for optimum production and environmental protection. Tools like Soil Data Analytics do just that by providing you with precise locations for soil data sampling and using those sampling data combined with other data layers to create a high-resolution visualization of all the necessary soil attributes. Based on the variability of those attributes across the land, you can obtain and plan the different types and intensities of inputs like fertilizers and cropping patterns.
The IoT tools mentioned above are only a few of the many tools you use in an integrated model of precision farming. All these tools and the data obtained from them work seamlessly in a network that provides you with much-needed timely information to optimize your production and alleviate operational costs.
Why should you turn to precision agriculture?
When you take into account the facts like food shortage is a global issue, arable farmland is limited and precision farming lets you maximize the amount of yield produced on your farmland by minimizing the overall costs, there is no reason you should not turn to precision agriculture other than constraints in technology access and limited knowledge and skills, all of which are very solvable problems. So let’s look at some of the reasons why precision farming is the way towards a sustainable and profitable agribusiness.
Precision farming reduces the costs associated with farming
This might sound counterintuitive at first since the use of technology in your farmlands obviously sounds like an expensive venture. However, precision-farming tools like GeoPard have become extremely accessible and affordable to farmers and these costs are nothing in comparison to the numerous long-term costs you will save by optimizing the actual level of inputs like fertilizers and herbicides you need to use in precise locations of your farms. Precision farming also dramatically reduces the ever-increasing human labor cost from the agriculture economics equation thus reducing your costs marginally.
Precision farming increases the yield and thus the overall profitability
As mentioned earlier, precision-agriculture increases profit by cutting costs. But even more than that, the major goal of precision farming is to maximize the crop yields from your farmland by accurately measuring the farmland attributes, analyzing those data, and suggesting or implementing solutions that will yield the most productive in the long run. Long-term productivity is key here because precision farming combines spatial data with temporal data to give you solutions that are suited for your long-term production goals.
Precision farming ensures environmental sustainability
Unlike traditional farming where environmental issues like pollution, nutrient leaching, waterbody contamination are given little to no thought in agronomical decisions, precision-farming revolves around the theme of environmental sustainability which takes care of the environmental standards you need to meet so that you can increase the environmental value of your products and explore new markets which in turn may again convert into economic gains.
Precision agriculture combines technical expertise with farmers’ experience
It is an often overlooked benefit of turning into precision agriculture but adopting any level of precision farming technology in your farm means that your agribusiness will be driven by better agronomical expertise while you will retain the ability to use your experience in light of the better understanding of your own field at a higher resolution. Especially in the case of small farms, precision farming only provides you with accurate and detailed information and suggestions, but it is up to you, the farmer to use that information and manage your agricultural farm according to your needs which brings us to the next and final point.
Precision farming is suitable for all farm sizes
Large farms and farming organizations use advanced and sophisticated machines and networks as large-scale precision farming. However, the majority of the food we eat in today’s world still comes from small farms. Although the type of precision agriculture tools varies according to farm size, they are applicable in all sizes of farms.
For small farms, tools like handheld GPS, small drones, and services like mobile apps with offline capabilities, cloud-based analytics, etc. can make a huge impact on the overall operation and productivity of the farm. With increased spatial resolution and low prices offered, the small size of the farm should not be a reason to not turn into precision agriculture today.
How to get started with precision agriculture?
Precision agriculture, Internet of Things (IoT), advanced machinery, data analytics, and other associated terminologies might be distressing at first glance if you are not quite familiar with these terms and this is the main reason why many farmers tend to stay away from precision-farming. However, precision farming is simply the act of obtaining more detailed and precise information about your own farm so that you can make the best decisions. While getting started with precision farming, you need to understand the following things for the best results.
Precision agriculture must always start with a clear understanding of your specific needs since precision agriculture serves more than one purpose increasing yields, reducing costs, improving operational efficiency, and enhancing sustainability. So first, a specific set of needs and expectations derived from a proper evaluation of your farm is the perfect way to start your precision farming journey.
Now you need to choose the tools that will best fit your needs. For this, you need to consult with experts, go to conferences, or simply contact the solution providers to gain information on specific tools and technologies.
While starting out on precision farming, it is always best to choose user-friendly tools that you or your staff can properly navigate and operate if needed. Also, even though you need not go on the details of the tools, it is always a good idea to have a basic understanding of how the tools and overall network works.
Finally, the actual implementation of the tools and the proper utilization of technology as well as the information obtained is the key to a successful precision farming operation. It is also critical to understand that precision farming is a long terms approach that works best when multiple data layers are combined and tools are integrated into a common network rather than working independently.Whats