Precision agriculture is worth implementing
“Optimizing yield is the aim of every farmer,” says Ian Beecher-Jones of Chiltern Hills Farm Ltd. “The challenge is identifying what input is put where and by how much. Precision Farming techniques will help identify this, but the biggest driver in yield optimisation has been and always will be the weather.”
Farmers can not control the weather as this growing season has underlined. 2019 has been one of the worst crop years on record in many areas, and many counties in the prairie provinces and in Ontario have been declared agriculture disasters. As many farmers begin planning their budgets for 2020, they may be wondering how to save costs.
Precision agriculture may be one of the pieces to that puzzle. While farmers may think precision agriculture requires heavy investments, they may be pleasantly surprised that is not necessarily the case.
Over the years, precision ag has proven that it is worth implementing. As an example, in the US, the Precision Ag Institute surveyed soybean farmers in 2016 and determined that if precision ag technology is used well, the payback can occur in one season. Growers in the Precision Ag Institute survey reported an average of 15% saving on crop inputs.
"Much of the focus in precision agriculture is to find ways to reduce costs to growers, and even more so now with recent struggles in Canada,” says Zach Harmer, Sales & Support Manager (North America) for SoilOptix® Inc. “Technologies in precision ag give us the tools to go the extra step to ensure where and what dollars are spent and the dollars coming out at harvest; optimizing inputs rather than wasting."
Many experts believe that in addition to less inputs and increases in yields, there are other less obvious benefits to implementing precision agriculture techniques, such as less wear on equipment and less labour required due the fact that people working on the farm, may be working smarter, not harder.
The other good news is that precision agriculture practices do not all have to be implemented at the same time, precision ag techniques can be implemented incrementally. As producers experiment with precision agriculture techniques and processes and they begin to see the positive results, they can then add more precision agriculture techniques to the next growing season, based on their success.