From cultivation to harvesting, the use of new, revolutionary means of mechanization and automation has raised the agricultural industry to a new stage of development. The modern agrarian revolution implies the introduction of advanced information technology that will reduce manual labor and costs while increasing productivity and yields. Why do we need these changes in agriculture? The biggest reason is the growing world population, which significantly increases the need for food. And smart farming along with precision agriculture practices is to help with that.
Smart Farming Technologies
Today, the use of digital technologies in farming allows for controlling the full cycle of production. Smart devices measure and transmit the parameters of soil, plants, microclimate, etc. All this data from sensors, drones, and other equipment is analyzed by special tools. Mobile or online applications come to the aid of farmers and agronomists to assist in determining the right time for planting or harvesting, calculating the fertilization scheme, predicting the yield, and much more. Let’s get into more detail on the most effective and widely used precision farming technologies.
More and more drones are used by farmers, playing an important role in agriculture’s innovative changes. If years ago field inspection required farmers to go into the field themselves, searching for any issues and areas that needed special treatment, things have changed now. Farmers can just use modern drones to take aerial high-quality photos and videos of the field to easily see if there are any problems with plants that need to be addressed. And that is without having to go inside the field.
Monitoring and Analytics
Although inspecting a small field traditionally may not be that complicated, monitoring a big field is way more challenging without using any technology. To make this easier, farmers can use drones or satellite imagery. However, drones are more expensive and still require farmers’ presence in the field. In contrast, satellite imagery can be accessed remotely via different farming apps.
Among farming apps, Crop Monitoring by EOS offers multiple benefits to the users. The tool analyzes satellite images of the field using on-the-fly spectral index calculations to provide farmers with all the necessary and accurate information about the health of their crops, potential weather risks, and problem areas that must be checked, to name some. Thanks to NDVI analysis of satellite imagery, 14-day weather forecast, and a convenient notification manager, farmers can monitor remotely weather, soil moisture levels, field productivity, and more. Based on this information, farmers can make more efficient decisions for any field activities (fertilization, watering, pesticide application, among others), including performing them in a more precise and timely manner. Such field management not only saves time and resources but also helps significantly increase profits thanks to making the most out of every acre.
Robots and Automated Equipment
As the role of technology in agriculture is growing every year, the use of robotics can be the next great step for farmers. Agronomists usually have to perform repetitive, labor-intensive tasks in the field, and agricultural robots help them to deal with such activities as seeding, watering, harvesting, etc. For instance, there are automated tractors that can be managed remotely with the help of GPS, vision systems, tools for light detection, and other technologies ensuring easier machinery traceability.
Besides, there are robots for precision planting that can focus on a specific area within a field thanks to artificial intelligence and computer vision. This allows for precise pesticide application control in the field and, potentially, the higher quality of the produce.
The automation of plant watering is possible with robot-assisted irrigation systems such as Subsurface Drip Irrigation (SDI) and a variety of sensors. SDI is a well-known technology in the agriculture industry, providing more precise control over the amount of water used, whenever and wherever. On the other hand, the combination of SDI systems with water-measuring sensors makes for automated farming equipment that helps farmers save water resources and prevent overwatering.
Automated seeding can even be performed from the air. For this purpose, farmers use special drones with a built-in module that “drops” seeds on a particular spot and from a distance based on the preset parameters. The technology utilizes compressed air to ensure the seeds will not scatter around the field in chaos. Such planting technique is a great way to ensure uniform plant emergence, which means better crop health and, potentially, higher yields.
Although advanced technologies and automation are still relatively new to farming, they are already transforming the industry, offering new ways of transitioning to sustainable and more efficient agriculture via tech innovations.
It was not so long ago that the majority of modern smart farming technologies were still science fiction. Now, it is a reality that not only helps farmers to be more effective and increase profits but also allows for resource preservation in the process.
Thus, advanced technologies and automation address a bigger issue of the world’s food crisis, making it possible for farmers to increase yields both in quantity and quality.