Precision agriculture (PA) is not a new trend. As we can observe from many cultivation systems around the world, a lot of producers have adopted precision agriculture technologies on a high scale and are familiar with them. Many technologies have been developed and are already mature to solve crucial matters that concern many producers and for years were remaining open issues. At the moment, no one is sure to what extent PA is going to expand, if we consider how rapidly it evolved. In this post we will take a look at some very successful applications of precision agriculture that are used by producers.
- Record keeping
Using the tools of precision agriculture, record keeping by the producers is beneficial in many respects. Both financial and production performance data can be correlated with spatial parameters to refer to each field location. More specifically, the ability to store data and plot them in a map, allows the producer to have a general overview and to analyze the financial information with the production records. Data is automatically collected during any field operation using sensors and devices, and stored in a database. All this knowledge is valuable to the producers to make various combinations and to compare their income each year in relation to their expenses for crop optimization in order to maximize their profit and also to avoid any possible risks.
- Spatial analysis for decision making
Record keeping is the foundation for decision making. However, records alone cannot provide meaningful options, that’s why they should be combined and applied in real time conditions to assist the producers. The decision-making process is very crucial and includes various stages from the problem statement to the solution. This is not so simple, as the right decision must be made to fit best to the problem, then to be evaluated and finally to be implemented, considering also other important factors which may be linked to the initial problem. The cross-referenced information from the records is fully utilized as a holistic approach by the factors that could provide a reliable solution. Also, the decision-making process of precision agriculture is free from any human error that may be due to over/under estimation of a particular situation or even psychological factors. It can also be a very helpful tool for the young farmers who lack experience. At this point, it is important to emphasize that now the decision-making process is directly accessible by producers even from their mobile phone, at any time and place.
- Variable rate application
Variable rate applications are widely regarded as the main purpose of precision agriculture. However, it cannot be put into practice if there is no previous spatial reference of the crop and if there are no suitable components to implement it, like sensors, software and other devices. Variable rate applications have a multitude of applications and to name a few, variable spraying is conducted only on crop parts that have been affected by certain diseases or insects and not on the rest of the healthy ones. The same goes to nutrient deficiencies. It is particularly useful to mention that to perform all these processes, computer vision is needed. Data for computer vision tasks are offered by the Eden library either through the datasets that are available on the website or as a service by the Eden Viewer novel device. Another variable rate application is fertilization based on a soil fertility map. The more fertile an area of the field is, the less fertilization will be needed. Barren lands are treated in the opposite way.
The goal of all the precision agriculture producers is to maximize their production with the least possible expenses both in money and natural resources. This assumes, however, that the producers will also do their best from their side. So it’s clear that precision agriculture has a lot to offer to the producers, as a collaborative tool. It is also very gratifying to realize that producers take advantage of the possibilities that new technologies provide them. It is probably the best application of science into practice which also contributes to economic and environmental sustainability.