Crop care is an extremely important aspect of agriculture, especially in the world of cash crop farming. Crop care is the act of protecting crops from weather, pests, or nutrient deficiency; crop care includes fertilization, pesticide application,temperature control, and more. Precision agriculture and crop care have developed together in recent times to make farmers more accurate and exact. Instead of typically caring for large fields by treating them all roughly the same, precision agriculture helps to break that tradition and encourages farmers to look at fields more granularly by identifying individual plants, or smaller sections of their fields, giving them the potential for a better crop yield.
There are many different pieces of technology that are used within the field of crop care, technologies like: GPS (global positioning systems), VRT (variable rate technology), guidance systems, mapping, and yield monitoring. These are all active forms of crop care that farmers can use to protect their fields from damage and help to produce larger crop yields. Although there are many different sections of crop care as well as precision agriculture technology being utilized today, the pieces talked about on this page are the most popular pieces of technology used in crop care.
GPS or global positioning systems are something that have become much more common in the world of agriculture and are starting to be a huge aid in the world of crop care and precision agriculture. GPS allows for much more accurate work to be done by farmers all around the world. Many global positioning systems are accurate to under one foot, this means that farmers who drive heavy equipment that is cumbersome to maneuver, can accurately use these machines in a much more precise fashion.
There is a large variety of equipment that utilizes GPS capabilities, for example: seeders,tractors, combines, spreaders, fertilizers and more. These piecesof equipment useGPS data to provide information to the farmer, and this information can also be plotted into a precision map or be used to support other existing technologies like VRT (variable rate technology). GPS has helped to more accurately and precisely show farmers what their plants need on an individual level, and because of this technology, providing crop care can be much more precise and reflect what each plant needs. This helps to reduce over-fertilizing as well as over-planting; and due to this reduction, the soil and plants stay healthier while the farmer saves more of their money.
Variable rate technology or more commonly known as VRT, is one aspect of precision agriculture and crop care that helps to not only save farmers money, but also prevent over spreading. VRT is utilized when equipment is given information and automatically distributes product at a variable rate, as oppose to a constant rate. VRT is known to help farmers save money because it effectively helps to cut back on over use of product.
There are different types of VRT products that take advantage of different technologies, for example a VRT planter could use GPS information to determine where it is at that moment and where it has been previously. When the planter knows the previous path it has taken, it can automatically shut off corresponding dispensers which are overlapping areas that have been previously been seeded. Other VRT models use global positioning system information along with a variety of onboard sensors to create maps, and depending on the onboard sensors that are being used, different maps will be created. These maps can then be used to tell the VRT system specific information about the field. This means that if a previous map shows that there has been too much fertilizer used in one area opposed to another, then the VRT system will apply fertilizers according to that information. This helps to reduce over use of chemicals, pesticides or fertilizers on crop life. VRT can help to improve crop yield and along with reducing the amount of inputs that a farmer uses, it helps to save the farmer money every time that it is used.
Although it might sound like something out of a science fiction movie, guidance systems are a piece of equipment used in precision agriculture that helps farmers to tend to their crops in a much more accurate manner. Guidance systems in the area of crop care can range from lightbar guidance to a high accuracy auto steer system. A lightbar system consists ofan LED screen that shows error and easy to monitor guidance, while an accurate auto-steer system takes control and does the maneuvering for the operator.Accuracy with these large machines is crucial to the overall betterment of farm yields, and if machines like planters or sprayers can distribute the appropriate products in specific areas, then crop yield will improve. With guidance systems the farmer is aided to an extent where he or she can confidently distribute product and know it is going exactly where it needs to be.
Precision agriculture as well as crop care both hold core values in collecting information; the more information a farmer has, the better equipped he or she is to care for their crops. When farmers are caring for their crops it is extremely beneficial to use different types of precision agriculture maps. These precision agriculture maps can range from anything such as soil maps, crop yield maps, weed maps, and much more. This variety of information can tell a farmer many different things such as moisture or nutrient content in the soil, nitrogen levels in specific parts of the fields,among other points of information. When a farmer is equipped with this knowledge there are many different ways that he or she can mitigate potential threats, such as low soil nutrient level or moisture. Due to precision mapping, crop care has become much more precise and targeted to smaller portions of the field, instead of just looking at the whole field as one unit to be treated the same.