Despite its idyllic depiction in movies, life in a farm requires back-breaking work. Every day, farmers keep their crops nourished by providing a steady supply of water and nutrients. At the same time, they also struggle against the forces of nature, keeping disease, weed, and pests at bay through the use of chemical controls.
Because they have too little data to tell the particular needs of the plants and soil, traditional farmers usually distribute water, fertilizers, and pesticides uniformly across their land. Often, this results in high amounts of chemical runoff and supply consumption.
To increase their bottom line and reduce wastage, many farmers now employ precision farming methods that make their farms more efficient. Precision farming refers to dividing the field into smaller regions and micromanaging each sector.
This farming principle is done through collecting geospatial information on the requirements of the crop and applying site-specific treatment to answer those needs. Some of the technologies used to collect and track the different variables that affect plant health are:
Precision farming owes its existence to the rise of the global positioning system (GPS) and geographic information system (GIS) technologies.
In fact, this farming method is also known as satellite agriculture, partly because precise positioning via geographic triangulation is the cornerstone of precision farming. GPS satellites, through the use of location sensors, determine the longitude and latitude of the field. At least 3 satellites are needed to triangulate the location of a particular field sector.
Precision farming requires gathering a lot of data from the field, almost all of which are measured and collected through the use of sensors. There are stationary sensors, like agricultural weather stations that measure and record climate and crop variables at predetermined intervals, which are set in the soil and left in place to collect data in real time.
Mobile sensors, on the other hand, are often attached to vehicles so they can measure variables in the different parts of the field. Some examples of mobile sensors include electrochemical sensors that detect pH and soil nutrient levels, mechanical sensors that measure soil compaction, and airflow sensors that take note of soil permeability.
Aerial spectral imaging refers to the use of aircraft to get a bird’s eye view of the farm. It employs highly specialized cameras attached to an airplane to capture images of the crops at specific wavelengths, which are then used to measure crop health factors such as water stress, chlorophyll content, canopy vigor, and many others.
In addition to aiding in the assessment of the plants, aerial imaging can also help identify pest problems, irrigation or nutrient issues, or other variables that can affect yield.
After capturing information from different sensors and images, the data is collated and processed using analytics software. Weather analytics, for one, can generate local weather forecasts and help farmers decide when and what is the best way to irrigate their field.
The same can be done for nitrogen content and fertilizer application. These programs, coupled with the advice of agronomists, give farmers a more detailed view of their farm and plants, from the different challenges they face down to the solutions at their disposal.
Precision farming goes beyond data gathering and interpretation; it also empowers farmers to employ methods and systems that will minimize supply consumption and maximize yields. The collected data serves as a reference for distributing seed, water, fertilizer, and other supplies at a specific time, depending on the condition of the plants.
This ensures that supplies are used only when they are needed, thereby reducing costs, manual labor, and environmental impact.
Hello, I’m Laura Bennett. I love nature especially when it comes to flowers and different kinds of plants. I started a very small garden behind my house and I named it Humid Garden. So, I created this blog to provide aspiring and inspiring thoughts about gardening for gardeners and anyone who has the intention of keeping a garden.