The Basics and Benefits of Precision Agriculture
15 August 2018
Recent technological innovations in the agricultural industry have revolutionized the way the world’s farmers approach the growth of their crops. Whereas the previous generations of farmers relied heavily upon constant experimentation and knowledge passed on through family and other farmers, today’s farmers have access to cutting-edge technologies designed to enhance every stage of the agricultural cycle.
An Introduction to Precision Farming
In the past few decades, the use of advanced agricultural technologies has taken on a life of its own, giving rise to the concept of precision agriculture. Put simply, precision agriculture – commonly referred to as precision farming – involves the use of modern technologies, including GPS, variable-rate technology (VRT), computer applications and more, to maximize crop yield with minimum resource expenditure.
Precision farming technologies are applicable all throughout the agricultural cycle, from the moment you begin soil preparation until harvest is complete. Prior to planting, for example, precision agriculture materializes in the form of remote sensing technology, which enables the monitoring of soil, water and other key resources to collect critical data that will affect the agricultural cycle further down the line, from pH levels to soil brightness and beyond.
Once you’ve gathered and applied this data to your soil management efforts, precision farming can be put to work through variable-rate seeding technology, which allows you to tailor your seeding rate to suit the area of the field in which the seeds are planted. This is generally accomplished through a GPS guidance system that’s capable of adjusting seeding rates based on precise coordinates for ultra-accurate results.
How Can Precision Agriculture Save Your Operation Money?
While some farmers might balk at the financial investment required to implement precision agriculture tactics, the reality is that these technologies tend to pay for themselves fairly quickly. That’s because the combination of precision technologies used throughout the agricultural cycle can drastically reduce the overuse of inputs, including seed, fertilizer and chemicals.
Additionally, this data can offer insight into portions of an operation that are underperforming, allowing the discerning farmer to make appropriate adjustments to ramp up productivity wherever possible.
Where Should You Start?
If you’d like to incorporate precision agriculture into your farming approach, there’s good news – precision farming techs are spread far and wide, making it easily accessible to farmers from all walks of life. But to make the most of your investment, it’s important to first evaluate your operation to determine which technologies you need the most.
Start by considering what you’re aiming to accomplish through the use of precision agriculture, whether that’s improved input application or simply a more accurate soil management approach. Then, explore the available tools that can help you accomplish what you’re looking for, and don’t hesitate to enlist the professional advice of precision agriculture professionals.
Finally, once you’ve gotten your hands on the appropriate technology, make sure it’s implemented properly – and once it’s in action, give it time. The value of your investment may not show up overnight, but with a bit of patience and strategic use, the resulting productivity levels and financial savings should justify its cost and then some.
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