The future? From the rapid advancement in the methods of farming over the years, it is safe to say the future is here already. Although the adoption of technologies and the new waves sweeping fast across the tides of agriculture is very minimal on this side of the world, the fact remains that the sector has experienced remarkable evolution over the past few decades. As the use of technology in agriculture grows, a new trend, known as precision agriculture is taking hold all over the world.
Drone systems, Soilless Farming, Hydroponics and aquaponics, Automated weather conditions, Digital climate, Synthetic nutrients and Highly sophisticated operation machines that are in use in some parts of the world are the future of what agriculture will evolve to become.
In this post, we will explore the basic concept of precision agriculture and its importance on crop yield and productivity.
What is Precision Agriculture?
Precision agriculture is a digital concept in farming that includes information technology systems using processed data from plants to ensure optimum physiological conditions and maximize plant yield. The system is called precision because, under zero supervision, software-driven devices obtain information from plant environments like soil, root water, and even weather using sensors. These data are analyzed and action is initiated. The response to the observed stimulus is directed towards creating an optimized condition which might include irrigation, fertilization, pest or weed control or even harvesting.
Precision agriculture can also be called smart farming. Precision farming uses technology like satellite positioning (GPS) systems, automated steering systems, remote sensing and geo-mapping to supply the needed input, in the needed amount at the right time. An example of smart farming is the responsive drip irrigation system (By GrowStreamTM). This irrigation concept uses sensors that detect root exudates released by plants as their environment changes. The irrigation pores react to the root signals by releasing water and nutrients directly to the root of the plants. This precision irrigation system regulates the supply of the needed amount of water and nutrient to plants with no labour supervision.
Importance of Precision Agriculture
Controlled crop quality
With precision agriculture, smart farming software provides farmers with information on hybrid crops, optimal planting times, fertilization schedules, soil management practices and harvesting periods. This guidance help farmers grow healthy crops that produce quality fruits.
Improved disease and pest management
Satellite positioning systems and drone imagery implemented with information technology that can analyze plant physiology help farmers provide the required treatment for the right plant. The system also helps detect pests before they damage plant tissues.
High harvest yield
Precision agriculture ensures the optimum growing condition for crops at all times. This helps improve the quantity of output per plant and also the overall yield and profit of farmers. This is achievable with reduced cost and lesser hired labour.
Increased production cycles
Plants need water, nutrient and sunlight to produce fruit. Digital agriculture has made it an easy feat to farm all year round in a controlled environment. A constant supply of quality outputs to the market will bridge the demand gap for agricultural products.
Inputs are targeted at the crops directly. These inputs are supplied at the needed amount, saving the soil from excess chemicals and the environment also from the impact of the uncontrolled application of agrochemicals.
Factored by the high number of subsistence farmers populating the agricultural system in developing countries around the world, digital agriculture might take more than just time to balance as the new normal. Proper education on the technical-knowhow and availability of these systems to farmers will go a long way.