by Tanja Folnovic
Agricultural productivity nowadays may seem to have reached a stationary (maximum) point due to the global availability of fertilizers and pesticides which are used to improve crop yield. However, misuse of these products and lack of awareness of the field parameters can decrease our productivity and endanger the environmental balance in the cultivation area.
Farming is becoming more scientific, with remote sensing, GPS and data analytics all being added to farming equipment. Thousands of farmers all over are adopting the new equipment to make their farming more precise. Tractors can map fields, drive themselves, and check its own motion within inches so it doesn’t waste fertilizer, seed or fuel. Farming technology includes remote sensing with data collection on variables like nutrient levels and soil moisture.
Precision farming is about managing variations in the field accurately to grow more food using fewer resources and reducing production costs.
All aspects of the environment – soil, weather, vegetation, water – vary from place to place. All these factors determine crop growth and farming success. Farmers have always been aware of this, but they lacked the tools to measure, map and manage these variations precisely. Thus, precision farming can make a difference to food production facing the challenge of a rising world population and can help farmers to achieve:
The goal of precision farming is to improve agricultural yield and reduce potential environmental risks, while benefits are:
- Monitor the soil and plant physicochemical parameters: by placing sensors (electrical conductivity, nitrates, temperature, evapotranspiration, radiation, leaf and soil moisture, etc.) the optimal conditions for plant growth can be achieved
- Obtain data in real time: the application of sensing devices in your fields will allow a continuous monitoring of the chosen parameters and will offer real time data ensuring an updated status of the field and plant parameters at all time
- Provide better information for management decisions
- Save time and costs: reduce fertilizer and chemical application costs, reduce pollution through less use of chemicals
- Provide better farm records essential for sale and succession
- Can be integrated with farm management softwares, like Agrivi, to make all activities on farm more easy and to improve farm productivity
Benefits due to reduced overlap of spraying were typically in the order of 10% savings on spraying costs. Other important benefits are: less fuel use, less soil compaction, less hired labour requirement and more timely sowing.
So, to farmers and land owners who decide to use technology to manage their fields, precision farming seems to bring many benefits, and ultimately increase of profit.