How Precision Farming Tools Can Help Agriculture Become More Resilient
Resilient: defined by Merriam-Webster as “capable of withstanding shock” and the ability to “recover from or adjust easily to change.” Resilience enables people to adapt to setbacks and bounce back from changes. In business, resilience protects continuous business operations, people, and assets. It separates those that can innovate and thrive from those that freeze and fail.
Resilient is what agriculture must become to withstand changes in climate, rising costs, supply chain challenges, and a growing population demanding more production on less land. And while building resilience is not easy, having the proper tools at hand makes withstanding the storm much easier.
The development and implementation of agriculture technology in recent decades has paved the way for farmers to improve their productivity and sustainability like never before. This wave of precision farming tools – often referred to as precision ag or precision agriculture – is what enables agriculture to become more resilient to changes.
What Is Precision Agriculture?
The International Society of Precision Agriculture defines precision agriculture as “a management strategy that gathers, processes, and analyzes temporal, spatial and individual data and combines it with other information to support management decisions according to estimated variability for improved resource use efficiency, productivity, quality, profitability and sustainability of agricultural production.”
Precision agriculture technology leverages new technologies to increase crop yields and profitability while reducing the amounts of inputs needed for crop production. Reducing inputs can be crop-dependent, but often means minimizing the land, water, fertilizer or crop protectants needed to maintain or increase yields. Oftentimes, this requires resources to be used more effectively or precisely.
There are many examples of precision agriculture technology in use today. GPS systems on farm equipment can help farmers plant in efficient patterns to save time and fuel. Documenting where the tractor or sprayer has been through the GPS system can reduce overlapped seeds during planting or reduce overapplication of fertilizer and crop protectants.
Unoccupied aerial vehicles can be used to fly over fields and measure disease on crops. Farmers can monitor plant health of the entire area without needing to walk through every pass on foot. With a birds-eye view, farmers can make the most sustainable and profitable crop protection decision.
Water management can be part of precision agriculture, too. Soil moisture sensors can be used to measure current soil moisture and assist in irrigation system scheduling to ensure that water is distributed only when needed to reduce inefficient or excess application.
In many of these examples and across the industry, precision agriculture and sustainability often go hand-in-hand. Reducing or precisely placing inputs, reducing fuel use, and improving decision-making is a win-win for farmers and the environment.
Data Is What Makes Precision Agriculture Possible
Precision ag encompasses many different types of technologies. The collection of data for these technologies – or by these technologies – is the fuel that makes precision farming so powerful.
Armed with data that spans multiple years, numerous crops, all applications, and different climatic events, models and machine learning can improve accuracy in outputs for farmers. Correctly identifying diseased plants from images or understanding what plants in a field are weeds versus crop lets a farmer address crop needs efficiently and effectively – with minimal input use.
Predicting fertilizer needs based on crop developmental stage allows farmers to provide the nutrients needed at the right time and right rate for maximum effectiveness. These are all data-based precision agronomy solutions.
Data can be quantitative or qualitative, but are typically composed of single observations or numbers reflecting an important variable in the production process. Data has been used for decision-making on the farm since the 1990s, but recent advancements in communication and sensing technologies have made on-farm data collection cost-effective and increasingly popular.
Today, big data analytics in precision agriculture improve efficiency and productivity, increase cost control, improve execution, and automate farming activities. Agriculture data management goes hand-in-hand with these benefits of precision agriculture crop management, though tools are becoming increasingly optimized for data management on the farm. What’s most critical is creating and utilizing accurate data because it is the bedrock that makes precision agriculture possible.
Agmatix’s Tools For You
Big data analytics in precision agriculture have so much potential to improve sustainability and profitability. Agmatix develops technologies that convert data into field-level actionable insights through agronomy data science and artificial intelligence.
Agmatix’s Digital Crop Advisor is a precision agronomy crop nutritional decision support tool. Digital Crop Advisor creates customized nutrition optimization plans and standardizes field measurements. Multiple parameters are considered in the creation of the nutrition optimization plans, including crop type, field location, pH, previous crops, plant uptake, and laboratory analyses.
Users can monitor sustainability KPIs such as carbon footprint and nitrogen leaching. WIth this precision agriculture tool, it’s even possible to understand the tradeoffs between driving high yields and minimizing environmental impact.
Digital Crop Advisor also provides insight into crop production at any scale. Deep insights into yield, quality, and carbon emissions are possible, even across worldwide operations and a diverse team. This easy access to data enables efficient and effective decision-making.
Agmatix is a proponent of open data to enable precision agriculture crop management. Agmatix offers an open data platform for agriculture professionals and researchers around the world. Users can easily share and access standardized agronomic data to support data analytics in precision agriculture. By breaking down data silos, the full value of precision farming is unlocked.
Agmatix also supports open data access through partnerships with the International Fertilizer Association, Innovative Solutions for Decision Agriculture, the African Plant Nutrition Institute, and Wageningen University & Research. The Global Crop Nutrient Removal database is an example of open-source agriculture data that can be used to make informed, precise crop management decisions.
Digital Crop Advisor transforms open data from all sources: live inputs from growers, existing databases, and data silos. This data combined with advanced algorithms takes precision agriculture crop management to the next level.
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Precision agriculture and big data analytics: breaking down data silos
Precision Ag for the Future
Precision agriculture benefits farmers and sustainability through reduced input costs, increased productivity and profits, more sustainable cropping systems, and lower carbon footprints. Precision farming can help farmers at any level be more resilient to the ever-changing world. With precision agriculture technology, a successful cropping system is possible, regardless of external factors requiring adaption.
That’s why Agmatix is focused on providing precision agronomy solutions that use the power of big data analytics for field-level insights. With the right tools, fueled by data, agriculture can position to be successful despite an uncertain future.