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Precision Farming: An Overview and Its Impact

by | Jul 7, 2022 | Sustainability




Problems with the agriculture sector

Agriculture is the world’s most important industry. And it is going through some growing pains with globalization. The population is rising and we are physically running out of resources and space. The world’s population is expected to reach 10 billion by 2050. And according to some estimations, 70% of these people will live in urban areas.

And when we talk about urban areas, this means higher purchasing power and standard of living. To feed this larger urban population food production will have to double. Some reports estimated that humanity must now produce more food in the next 4 decades than in the last 8,000 years of agriculture combined. And all done in a more sustainable approach.

So we need to grow good and nutritious food without harming the planet. We are already battling a warmer planet and some of the adverse effects of climate change. Agriculture is one of the main contributors to climate change but it is also the most affected by the crisis, and it could also be part of the solution for it.

Food production is highly dependent on climatic conditions. And when supply is low, prices are high, and demand is low, the farmers’ revenue plummets. This means that farmers cannot earn their basic incomes and risk going out of business. But that’s not the only problem, the world is faced with a water crisis and the agriculture sector depends largely on water.

The agriculture sector consumes around 70% of the world’s freshwater. Most of the water is used in an unsustainable way where most of it goes to waste. During the last couple of decades, the sector has turned to heavy machinery to increase yield. Modern technology has made farming more efficient and productive, but it also has negative consequences.

Modern machinery has encouraged the overproduction of certain crops, which leads to increased pollution, soil degradation, and food waste. Also, farmers in developing countries usually cut corners when it comes to environmental protection. Traditional farming requires fertilizers and pesticides to sustain itself which is very damaging to the environment and the food itself.

The use of artificial fertilizers and pesticides has been a problem and heavy competition in the sector makes the matter even worst. Agricultural production is also responsible for deforestation, which upsets the natural eco-balance and makes regions vulnerable to calamities. Climate change is already devasting the food supply.

Another problem facing the agriculture sector is the rapid urbanization of the world. In fact, as the world grows, farmers are forced to sell their land. Urban fringe farming is also becoming extinct. On top of that arable land is becoming more and more scarce. Because land has become so expensive for farmers, would-be farmers can’t find affordable arable land for farming.

The agricultural sector is also confronted with pests. Pest threatens agricultural production and poses a huge challenge to food security. This gives a little bit of an indication of the pressure on the food system. The agriculture sector is faced with huge challenges such as population growth, change in consumption behavior, climate crisis, and food security.

Agriculture must use fewer inputs, less fertilizer, fewer pesticides, less water, and less surface area. Otherwise, we will destroy our planet. Basically, farmers have to produce more food on the land already used and with fewer resources. So the only solution is sustainable production.

To face and adapt to these monumental challenges and to feed the world, major farming paradigms are dominating the landscape. To address this problem, agricultural stakeholders need to adopt measures to reduce the vulnerability of the agricultural sector. One way is to innovate and implement new technologies.

One of the most promising ways to address those problems is through data-driven agriculture. Capturing data from different parts of the farm and then using artificial intelligence to process and add value to the data. This way farmers can predict things that otherwise would have been difficult to sense or measure.

There are plenty of machines in different sectors that perform precision operations with data. Now it is time for the farmers to harness the power of big data and precision equipment for growing plants. So what are the hypes around precision agriculture?

What is precision farming?

The term “precision agriculture” is a catch-all term for a variety of technologies, each with its benefits and disadvantages. It means using exact science and technology to enhance food production. Achieving precision agriculture means collecting data on every aspect of a farm.

The concept is based on observing and responding to ordeal variations while relying on new technologies like satellite imagery, GPS, information technology, and other geospatial technology. And through connected sensors and complementary data connectivity platforms, growers can pinpoint which fields need treatment and how much water and fertilizer to apply.

With precision agriculture, farmers can precisely collect a lot of information from different sources and in different parts of the field. These tools have enormous benefits for the environment and the bottom line. Although the technology is most commonly associated with large farms, small farms and cooperatives can benefit as well.

Precision agriculture helps farmers increase production at reduced cost through efficient management of resources. With it, everything is automated and computer-controlled. Farmers can also collect information like soil nutrients, pest detection, weeds location, the level of the greenness of plants, and weather forecasts.

Precision farming has many potential benefits for agricultural practices and can help reduce costs while increasing crop yield as well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions. With the help of geospatial technology, crop growers can analyze soil data and determine which crops should be planted where and how to maintain soil nutrition.

Why precision farming is important?

In the 21st century, we have sensors that can collect data from different parts of the environment, and with artificial intelligence, farmers can make sense of all the data received. This way farmers can know the best course of action which will result in producing higher quality and quantity of produce while wasting fewer resources.

For example, using AI, farmers can monitor soil moisture, and weeds, and check crop physical properties with ease. The same technology can detect disease and develop corrective measures. Farmers can use AI-powered apps to recognize weeds and spray them with corrective measures.

With the help of AI and Machine Learning-powered technologies, farmers can monitor soil moisture, crop nutrients, and weeds without having to spend additional money on a scout. The best part is that AI can learn and improve itself from the data feed. It can also use past experiments for future predictions.

Precision farming focuses on auto-guidance and variable rate application, two features that used to be the dominant aspects of agriculture. With the help of these technologies, growers can now more effectively manage crops while minimizing the environmental impacts of their operations.

By using these tools, farmers can monitor and manage soil quality, as well as detect changes in the presence of pollutants. Precision agriculture also helps farmers improve crop health by ensuring the right nutrients are applied at the right times. It also allows farmers to optimize inputs such as water and fertilizer without affecting the quality of yield.

Precision farming includes specialized drones that can be controlled remotely. Drones allow farmers to make more informed decisions regarding variable rate applications and management strategies. Drone mapping has been used in agriculture for years, and it will continue to grow in the future.

Precision agriculture allows farmers to optimize soil and also increases yields and saves farmers time and money. During a force majeure event, precision agriculture can adjust its strategy, enabling a stable food supply. This technology is crucial to improving the efficiency of agricultural operations, and the future of agriculture.

Gamaya’s advanced technologies in precision farming allow farmers to accurately assess crop yield before planting. By combining satellite remote sensing and GPS, Gamaya’s technology offers farmers an effective method for monitoring crop yield during the growth cycle and harvest. These solutions help farmers reduce chemical use, save time, and minimize crop losses.

Precision farming helps farmers identify the most profitable fields and reduce the number of inputs they use. Profit maps help identify which fields are most profitable and which are not. They also help farmers avoid waste by identifying the fields that aren’t performing well.

These technologies can help improve yields and decrease costs for all types of farms. With precision farming, plants can be grown in denser and more space-efficient arrangements. The Internet of Things devices is one of the biggest factors behind precision agriculture applications.

Yield monitoring equipment collects data on seed varieties, moisture, grain load, and auto-cut width. Different devices are connected to the Internet all day long and report real-time data to cloud databases, allowing farmers to have a constant pulse on their crops. By analyzing this information, farmers can make in-the-moment decisions regarding seeding or fertilizing crops.

These automated systems help farmers follow guidance patterns. Geo-mapping is now commonplace, and sensors provide complete insight into the soil’s environment. Data allows farmers to make better decisions and improve crop outputs. The use of a variety of precision tools is already transforming agriculture.

Impact of precision farming

Precision farming combines various data sources, such as satellite imagery, drones, and sensors, to make precise decisions on the farming process. It is aimed at increasing profitability and efficiency in farming while protecting the environment. With the use of satellite imagery, farmers can pinpoint crop growth, yield, and soil health.

This can also help growers control agricultural machinery and even be used in poor-visibility or low-visibility area. Geospatial technology is commonly used to collect and analyze this information. Through this data analysis, farmers can make decisions on how to manage a given farm. Precision agriculture also allows growers to divide their farms into different zones, each with specific characteristics.

For example, farmers may plant the same crop in several fields. Different types of crops require different care, depending on the type of soil and pest pressures. With precise data, farmers can know exactly where to place a particular input and what amount to apply. This can increase productivity and reduce waste while contributing to environmental sustainability.

Big data from precision agriculture is used to make decisions on future and immediate actions, including when to apply fertilizer or chemicals. For example, if an agronomist observes that a crop is suffering from an insect infestation, he will know when to apply a pesticide. In this way, precision farming will help farmers avoid expensive and unnecessary mistakes.

Farming is a labor and land-intensive process, but smart data usage can increase productivity. By using GPS guidance, tractors steer themselves according to field coordinates, reducing human error. Today, most tractors are equipped with automated steering systems, which help reduce human error and follow a guidance pattern.

The GPS-controlled tractor automatically steers itself based on the field coordinates, eliminating the need for the driver to make multiple passes on a field. Precision farming also allows the traceability of food provenance to ensure food safety. And by integrating data from imaging and sensor, farmers can improve the health of their soil.

With precision farming, farmers can decide on what amounts of fertilizer, water, and pesticides to apply in a field. Further, it reduces the wastage of fertilizer, fuel, water, and time. By using technology, farmers can minimize costs by optimizing the efficiency of their operations.

In addition to reducing costs, precision farming also improves profitability and yield. It can also improve the productivity of the land over the life cycle of the crop. The increased productivity will increase the value of the land, making it more valuable to the owner and society as a whole. And it is the only way to ensure that farmers are making the most of their land.

It is estimated that one-third of the world population doesn’t have access to clean water. Nevertheless, the agriculture sector uses 70% of the world’s fresh water in an unsustainable manner. But now with the severe water crisis, and climate change the world is facing, farmers will have to waste less while increasing yield. Technology can be used to monitor the efficiency of water usage.

Sensors also provide complete insights into the soil, allowing farmers to make better decisions. A more precise data system can make a difference in both crop yields and profitability. The result of these improvements is improved yields and environmental responsibility. Which was once reserved for large-scale farming, precision agriculture is now available for small-scale farmers with smart sensors and cloud computing.

If the technology and the model are implanted properly and are embraced by all farmers, then we may be uncovering part of the solution to one of humanity’s most pressing contemporary challenges. With precision farming, we can feed the ever-growing population while reducing the detrimental effect of the agricultural process on the planet’s resources.