The last 10 years have seen a rapid evolution in technology, especially in the world of agriculture. Precision agriculture or SSCM (site-specific crop management) is a term that has become increasingly popular with the rise of technology.
But what is precision agriculture? Precision agriculture is quite like a large puzzle, as it is made up of many different pieces which are the individual technologies within it, but the larger picture is focused on helping farmers to break their fields into smaller portions and areas to manage each portion of the field individually. This gives the plant life more immediate and specific care, as opposed to looking at entire fields and treating them in the same manor.
There are many different types and pieces of technology in precision agriculture that help to assist farmers and let them get a better sense of what their fields are truly like. Technology use in precision agriculture is something that is constantly changing and bettering itself for farmers.Different technologies that are currently popular in precision agriculture are VRT (variable rate technology), UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles), GPS (global positioning systems), various maps, and guidance software. These technologies are not all of the technologies that are used in precision agriculture, although at the moment they are the most commonly used.
Variable rate technology, also known as VRT, is a form of seeder, spreader, sprayer, and planter technology that has been developed overthe last 10 years. This technology helps to reduce over seeding, spraying, and spreading on farms by tracking the equipment with GPS location and preventing redundant use of product. Variable rate technology can vary from assisting farmers from seeding, spraying or spreading where they have previously, or this technology can connect with different maps and use GPS to determine what areas need more seed, pesticides / herbicides or spreading of fertilizers and distribute the perfect amount. Variable rate technology is one that is extremely beneficial to the farmer due to the fact that since it is reducing product usage, it is saving farmer’s money.
It may sound like something out of the movies, but unmanned aerial vehicles or UAVs are a piece of precision agriculture technology that are helping farmers to more productively and precisely care for their fields. A UAV gives a farmer a bird’s eye view over their fields and can have a variety of different cameras attached to them. These different cameras can be highly specialized cameras that are designed to only pick up specific wave length frequencies that are emitted by plants and reflected by plants. These cameras can make it so that farmers can tell a variety of different things about their fields, including how much nitrogen is found in specific areas of their fields, what species of plants are living in a certain zone, as well as many other crucial pieces of information.
UAV technology helps to more accurately and efficiently scout for the farmer via remote sensing. There are many different types of resolutions that a UAV can use, one being spatial resolution. This is the distance between two points, an example of this would be the distance between two sample locations, the further or closer together these points are, the higher or lower the spatial resolution.
Ever since the inception and development of GPS or global positioning systems in the 1970s, GPS has been constantly refined and further developed. GPS works in a rather simple manor, it uses a network of about 30 satellites to calculate what is called trilateration. For a GPS reader to obtain an accurate signal, it needs to connect with 3 or more satellites. GPS technology today is a modern marvel and has drastically changed the world in which we live, including the world of agriculture.
Different global positioning systems have helped to make great advancements in precision agriculture, and because of GPS technology,precision agriculture has developed geo-referencing. Geo-referenced data is when data that is collected in the fields is applied to the specific location in the field where it was collected, this means that things like soil samples, or crop samples can be placed to a specific location. This geo-referencing helps farmers to better understand their fields and understand what sections of their fields need more attention. GPS helps to let the farmers better understand each crop in their field and not just their fields as a whole, this helps to improve crop yield, productivity and profit for farmers.
A large piece of precision agriculture rests with the use of many different types of maps. Precision maps can help farmers in a huge amount of ways, as well as increase their productivity, efficacy, and crop yield. There are many different types of maps that can be made with different technologies such as UAV's and GPS. With these technological advancements, geo-referencing data is much easier and collecting information into an easy to read map can be done by a computer. Maps can help farmers by showing a great amount of detail, and depending on the resolution size, the farmer could see each plant in his or her field. This amount of information could help the farmer to make a variety of strategic decisions including how much fertilizer or pesticide to use, what crops to harvest, how much nitrogen is in the field, and much more.
Over the past 10 years, guidance technology has become increasingly more popular. Guidance technology is in essence a method for farmers to more efficiently and much more accurately use resources such as pesticides, fertilizers and seed. This technology can be applied to tractors, combines and other pieces of farm equipment to help farmers by automatically steering the equipment to an exact location guided by GPS. This guidance technology can till a row of soil, and then later fertilize the exact location and seed precisely over top of that. Guidance technology helps by adding accuracy to work done in farm fields, and because the machines are so accurate, fewer products are wasted when seeding or fertilizing.