Agriculture in any country plays a very vital role in contribution towards its GDP, in addition to feeding of respective human or animal population. Time and time people have felt the need to introduce or use new innovative cultivation/monitoring practices or use of geographical/weather related data or information in order to obtain better quality crops and with high yields. The adoption of digital technologies in precision agriculture has gained pace in recent years. By applying these technologies, farming is turning more simple, profitable, efficient, and safer without being an expert on the relevant subject. Out of several new technologies, the five technologies given below have been considered as best by most farmers:
- GIS software and GPS agriculture
- Satellite imagery
- Drone and other aerial imagery
- Farming software and online data
- Merging datasets
GIS software and GPS agriculture
Applying GIS software has an important role in precision farming, since fields are location-based, Use of the software is quite effective for farmers who are able to map current and future changes in precipitation, temperature, crop yields, plant health, etc.
Satellite Imagery: This involves image or valuable data collection through satellites and drones. The data can be on vegetation, soil conditions, weather, and terrain from a bird’s-eye view. Such bird’s eye view data significantly raises the accuracy in decision-making. With this technology one can easily predict the crop yields and also conduct real-time field monitoring, with an aim to find out variety of threats associated with the crop. An example is Crop Monitoring, which is a digital Platform that employs satellite monitoring in order to accelerate a farmer’s decision-making so that he is able to cover all the crucial point/facts of any particular field treatment.
Drone/Aerial Imagery: With the help of images taken from drones it enables farmers to have fair idea regarding crop biomass, plant height, water saturation on certain field areas or even presence of weeds, with higher accuracy. Aerial or Drone based images are beneficial in providing more accurate data and with higher resolution in comparison to satellites. Drones provide valuable information even faster than when operated locally. In curbing insect attacks, use of drones is very effective. This is because their infestation threats are minimized or prevented by applying the insecticide on the affected areas using drones. This eventually reduces the possibility of applying chemical control methods, which can adversely affect the crop growth or yield at times.
Farming software and online data
This can be using farm based software, involving analysis of weather data in-line with the data on plant condition obtained from satellite imagery. By this, farmers can apply irrigation accurately and prevent frost or heat damage. For instance in order to avoid drought issues, drip irrigation with automatic or manual valve control is applicable. Therefore analysis of the weather data in-line with the data on plant condition enables farmers to apply the required amount of water to dry areas, quite comfortably.
This is applicable during crop monitoring. Occasionally one has to mash or merge various data sets in order to get meaningful interpretations in his/her fields. In this case the user of these data sets is able to compare the performance of his/her field with the average performance of all fields in the given district. Another application is during weather data analysis. For example the data system can notify a researcher about low temperatures, detrimental for crops sown during winter season. Or in another case the system can highlight days with temperatures above +30℃ so as to evaluate the damage due to heat stress.
Considering the value addition provided by above technologies, it is quite likely that modern farms shall continue receiving productive results from the ever-evolving digital agriculture. These product results implies lowering water intake, or plant inputs, better efficiency, affordable prices for end user. The list of benefits and uses are quite big. Therefore the agricultural technologies mentioned above no doubt will be seen as offering substantial help for farmers in years to come. They will be advantageous in optimizing use of seeds or fertilizers and simplifying farm management methods, apart from increasing crop productivity. They will be also helpful in enhancing yields, and reduce maintenance costs, or even improve profit margins. Finally these new technologies will be seen as effective methods to make any business venture sustainable and cost-effective.