Precision farming: Understanding a field’s potential at a glance.

4 minute read

There are numerous technologies being developed to tackle the challenges faced by farmers in our ever-changing world. Here, we explore some of the most popular precision farming technologies available and look at how they can help simplify processes whilst increasing yield.

Precision Farming

Precision farming has raised modern agriculture to a new level. It encompasses a range of systems designed to provide differentiated, targeted management of agricultural land based on the current position in the field.

The aim of precision, or site-specific, farming is to identify differences in soil characteristics and yield potential between areas within a field and to respond by modifying crop management practices accordingly.

The precision farming cycle starts by identifying variability. The fertiliser application and drilling rate can then be adjusted and regulated on the basis of this information. Yield mapping allows effective monitoring of the success of site-specific management systems. Soil maps also make site-specific tillage (working depth adjustment) a reality.

All these systems are supported by processes such as soil mapping, soil sampling and yield potential mapping.

This increases yields and saves on inputs while also protecting the environment and conserving scarce resources.

Precision Farming

The idea driving precision farming is simple: use less to grow more.

By utilizing precision agriculture technology to understand the conditions of the environment and ecosystem, farmers can improve crop management and maximize their yields in a relatively short span of time.

A Brief History

The biggest breakthroughs in Precision farming occurred in the 1990’s thanks to the advent of important technologies such as Geographic Information Systems and  Global Positioning Systems. Various controllers, sensors, and monitors were simultaneously developed alongside these technologies as well.

These were competently matched with farming equipment such as servo motors, sprinklers, and shaft monitors. The subsequent development of high-speed internet and mobile computing also played a major role in boosting the efficiency of these processes in the following two decades.

Today, precision agriculture technology is widely available around the world. The adoption by farmers, however, is still slow going and this needs to be greatly improved in the near future.

Land Preparation Tools

Understanding the composition and nature of the soil being used for farming is a key element to achieve success in this sector. There are many variables at play here, and precision agriculture tech allows you to grasp a sense of these variables in order to control them as best as possible.

Modern sampling tools such as Soil Information Systems are a classic example of technology that’s developed to help farmers better understand the soil beneath their feet. These systems allow you to comprehensively decipher the precise nature of the soil health. This can be done by examining various components such as soil fertility, soil texture, moisture retention capability, and root zone depth.

Once a farmer is able to understand the strengths and weaknesses of their farmlands, they can utilize this information to plant the ideal set of crops to match these conditions.

Apart from obtaining information from the ground level, there are also various aerial technologies available to help identify problems from a macro point of view. Some problems with the land and soil can only be observed from this vantage point. With the help of aerial infrared images of their lands, farmers can now stay one step ahead of their problems and gather information that would simply not be possible from a ground level.

sprinklers providing water on a crop field

Guidance Systems

The advent of GPS technology has played a massive role in the development of guidance systems in subsequent years. Today, this technology is driving the progress of various PA systems such as GPS-guided seeders, tractors, and sprayers.

With the help of precise positioning capabilities, farmers can now irrigate and cultivate their crops with accuracy that’s never been seen before in this segment. The variability of the conditions has been eliminated from the equation to a large extent. This allows growers to work round the clock and in any conditions they desire.

Guidance systems also play a major part in eliminating redundancies and overlaps in the irrigation process. This tends to yield considerable monetary benefits over time and also reduces the stress on resources and farmer mindsets.

There are also plenty of automated steering systems available to farmers that are capable of taking full control of heavy-duty equipment. They are capable of operating and handling the equipment with impeccable accuracy, and this leaves farmers free to focus on ancillary processes on the field.

The use of intelligent guidance systems is also being seen in various farms around the world. These systems are capable of identifying the best steering paths based on the shape of your respective fields. 

Thus we see that a combination of automated and intelligent guidance systems can help assist farmers with various grueling elements of farming. To top it all off, they also maximize the efficiency of these processes apart from lightening the burden of the workload.

Yield Monitoring Systems

Yield monitoring systems are another important variant of monitoring technologies that were developed alongside GPS systems. When implemented on the ground level, this technology is capable of providing important insights into facets such as grain loads, moisture levels, and auto-cut width. 

When farmers have such important information in-hand at all times, they are capable of making educated decisions to help maximize the profitability of their yields. More often than not, a given stretch of farmland will not produce consistent levels of yield across the surface area. 

Yield monitoring systems, however, can identify the weak links in this chain and help boost the productivity of low-yield segments.

Other Relevant Technologies

Apart from the three major branches of precision farming covered in the sections above, some of the other noteworthy systems in precision agriculture technology includes:

  • Data Integration Systems
  • Water Management Systems
  • Variable Rate Technology
  • Flow and Application Control

Even though nearly 10% of the world’s surface area is being utilized for farming, it’s shocking that there is a global food shortage currently. This points to the fact that the practices being employed for farming are not as efficient as they need to be. 

Enter Precision Agriculture

The tools being developed within this vital segment holds the potential to improve farm management, revolutionize the agricultural industry and maximize the potential of the farmlands.

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