Why - A More Sustainable Approach Is Needed
Precision Farming Tech
Technology — including precision farming — is changing the way farmers think about optimizing yields, with significant implications for input application. Nearly half of growers today use precision farming services, taking advantage of applications such as soil sampling, monitoring, and mapping.
Precision farming results have been positive: Users report that yields improved by nearly 60% relative to the yields of nonusers over the past two years. Furthermore, almost one-third of precision agriculture users ranked reduced input costs and improved yields as the top benefits of precision farming.
Despite encouraging progress and benefits limitations of today's aerial imaging and terrestrial sensor technology still leave much to be desired for in actual in-field performance visibility. Higher field performance granularity and near real-time data could enhance per-field profitability and reduce losses.
Why Precision Farming Is Important
Environment & Sustainability Evolution
Traditional farming relies on managing entire fields making decisions related to planting, harvesting, irrigating, and applying pesticides and fertilizer-based on regional conditions and historical data.
Precision farming, by contrast, combines sensors, robots, GPS, mapping tools, and data-analytics software to customize the care that plants receive without increasing labor. Stationary or robot-mounted sensors and camera-equipped drones wirelessly send images and data on individual plants, e.g. information about stem size, leaf shape, and the moisture of the soil around a plant to a computer, which looks for signs of health and stress. Growers receive feedback after flight operations or from sensor monitoring and then deliver water, pesticide, or fertilizer in calibrated doses to only the areas that need it. The technology can also help farmers decide when to plant and harvest crops.
As a result, precision farming can improve time management, reduce water and chemical use, and produce healthier crops and higher yields—all of which benefit farmers’ bottom lines and conserve resources while reducing chemical runoff.
The U.S. farming industry is in the midst of a significant evolution, and traditional ways of thinking about farming methods and input purchasing are evolving as well. An aging grower population, increasing consumer enthusiasm for non-GMO and organic foods, further penetration of precision farming, and emerging disruptors in the agribusiness supply chain are some of the dynamics at play across the industry.
Farming communities and others involved in agriculture have to adapt agriculture to climate change and other challenges. In this context, ICT-driven tools and technologies to enhance decision making through accurate, reliable and timely information have an important role to play. Agriculture has to look towards emerging technologies for solutions to overcome some of the challenges facing it.
“In the current milieu, use of sustainable information and communication technology in agriculture is not an option. It is a necessity.”
Food and Agriculture Organization