Precision farming is becoming more popular with farming operations worldwide, helping farmers to optimise their farm environment for a more effective yield in-season. Technology integration is being used more frequently in daily farm operations, with farmers being able to cultivate the soil on their farmland more effectively, and with other tech advancements, farmers have begun reaping maximum results on crop production, while optimising traditional farming practices to reduce waste and manual labour. By leveraging technology, such as sensors, and viewing the data analytics derived from them, farmers are seeing crop yields which are far more profitable than they have experienced before, and are improving farm operations for a safer, efficient, and more environmentally friendly workspace.
What is precision farming?
Precision farming, which is also known as precision agriculture, satellite farming or site-specific farming, uses technology, and strategies derived from technology, in farming operations to optimise and increase soil quality. This, in turn, improves the sustainability and profitability of the farm. Simply put, by using state-of-the-art technology and tools, and the data produced about specific crops, farmers are able to see the viability of their land, tend to the soil and supply it with exactly what it needs to produce healthy, strong crops. By taking corrective measures, crop growth is strengthened, and output is increased, boosting the farm’s productivity and efficiency.
Precision farming benefits
By knowing precisely what the soil requirements are on the land, including the specific areas that need attention, farmers can reduce consumption of traditional farm operations, such as the amount of watering that is needed, the fertiliser, and pesticides used, including knowing exactly which areas require these and which do not need any additional intervention. This prevents wastage while improving land productivity.
Combining this analysis with precise weather services and imagery in real time, will help farmers to ascertain the best conditions needed to maximise crop growth and reduce the labour-intensive tasks once needed to maintain best crop yields.
With the better distribution of nutrients, spraying and irrigation, as well as a better understanding of their ecosystem and farm environment, farmers will undoubtedly benefit from cost-savings and will be able to give their attention to other areas of the farm.
Precision technologies available to farms of all sizes:
- Sensors: By embedding sensors on farmland, specifically in certain soil sections, information/data is relayed back to the farmer. Using this data, farmers can then come up with a plan to take corrective measures if needed. These sensors can be set to send alert notifications if any anomalies occur helping the farm to take swift course of action.
- Sampling: Working in tandem with sensors, sampling can provide a more accurate measurement of the nutrients available in the soil. With this information, farmers will be able to see if their soil is nutrient-dense or if it is lacking something which may be the determining factor of the fruitfulness of the crop that season.
- Satellite monitoring: Through the use of satellite crop monitoring, farmers will be able to frequently monitor the health of their fields. Precision images taken from satellites highlight soil temperature, humidity, and plant deterioration. This means that farmers will be better able to gauge which areas of their land need more attention and what they can do to help their land boost productivity.
- GPS location: With GPS-based applications, farmers are able to create better farm maps with precise acreage for their crops and are able to monitor crop conditions more accurately.
- Normalised Difference Vegetation Index: Farmers can also view the health of their crops through Normalised Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), which analyses live green vegetation in a specific area. The NDVI comes from data taken through satellite monitoring.
What does it mean for you?
Precision technologies are becoming increasingly available to farms globally. This means that farmers can now choose which tech they want to introduce onto their farms, keeping in line with their farm strategies and long-term goals no matter the size of their property.
By integrating technology onto farms, farmers can set up notification alerts based on the data they receive if an anomaly pops up or a custom threshold is met. They can then setup an automated response based on these events and correct the irregularity immediately. For example, if certain crops experience high pest alerts, an automated response could trigger a pesticide spraying event more frequently than for crop located in other areas.
Precision farming does not have to be a costly exercise. Putting simple practices in place can mean the difference between maximised outputs and low yielding crops. As governments worldwide are focusing more and more on Agriculture 4.0 (growing precision farming and tech advancements in the agricultural sector), the future and efficiency of farming has never looked brighter. With the explosion of the Internet of Things and the innovation in the agtech space, improvements in farm operations and resources will result in more profitable, safer, efficient, and environmentally friendly farming.
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