The World Bank estimates that by 2050, there will be 9 billion people on the planet, and to feed them, we would need to produce around 70% more food than we do now. Precision farming is the practice of using a variety of techniques and tools to help farmers improve and increase soil quality and productivity through the application of a number of carefully planned and timed critical interventions, a feat made possible by the development of ever-more sophisticated technologies. This agricultural management system aids in the advancement of sustainable agriculture by enabling the resolution of increasingly pressing economic and ecological issue.
Importance of Precision Agriculture:
It is called "precision" because, thanks to the cutting-edge tools employed, it is able to carry out the proper intervention in the proper location at the proper time and in a manner that is more precisely tailored to the needs of certain crops and geographical regions.
The primary use of technologies is to gather the data and information needed to make judgements about how to increase production, followed by the implementation of the necessary corrective measures to achieve this goal.
GPS, drones, and satellite photos are just a few of the technologies incorporated into such a system. Precision farming aims to boost efficiency and production, lower labour costs, and improve environmental sustainability.
Technologies used in Precision Farming:
Sensor based technology
In order to collect information on soil water availability, soil fertility, plant water status, local climatic data, insect-disease-weed infestation, and other topics, wireless sensors have been successfully utilised in precision agriculture.
These sensors can be mounted on vehicles, satellites, drones, or robots, allowing for soil collection and analysis of the same.
GPS and GIS based technology
Precision agriculture uses the Global Positioning System (GPS) and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to assist with anything from farm planning to field mapping, soil sampling, tractor guidance, crop scouting, variable rate applications, and yield mapping. They also assist in charting crop issue areas like weeds or disease, roads, irrigation systems, and field boundaries.
Satellite based technology
Many approaches are being used by satellites in agriculture, starting with calculating agricultural yields. Optical and radar sensors can distinguish between different crop varieties, gauge the health and maturity of the crops, and give a precise picture of the area that is being farmed. This information can aid in market education and offer farmers early warning of natural calamities such as famine or crop failure.
Internet of Things (IoT)
The term "IoT" has gained popularity in precision farming due to its usefulness. In IoT-based smart farming, a system is created for irrigation system automation and to monitor the crop field using sensors (light, humidity, temperature, and soil moisture). With IoT, farmers can keep an eye on the state of their fields from anywhere. Compared to traditional farming, IoT-based smart farming is significantly more efficient.
The growing use of small, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), sometimes known as drones, in agriculture is one of the most recent trends. Drones are remotely piloted aircraft that lack a human pilot. These can greatly enhance the collection of geographical data and the support of evidence-based planning in agriculture. These tools and technologies can offer useful Drones can assist with crop health assessments, soil and drainage studies, and the variable-rate administration of liquid pesticides, fertilisers, and herbicides.
The benefits of precision agriculture:
Precision farming's ultimate goal is to increase production while using fewer resources and maintaining high quality standards. Both growers and the environment benefit from precision agriculture.
The ability to accurately lower pesticide, fertiliser, and seed rates in regions where they are not cost-effective is one of precision agriculture's key benefits. The process of applying inputs (such as chemical fertilisers and pesticides) in the right amount, at the right time, and at the right place is known as "site-specific management." Farmers can receive insights on the amount of fertiliser or herbicide required based on the crop health by using sensors and software to analyse the crop health, and this knowledge can help them in the long term.
Promoting sustainable agriculture:
In addition to improving the bottom line, ensuring that applied crop input materials reach the plant and do not have an adverse effect elsewhere in the environment also promotes a safer environment.
Prevents soil deterioration:
Precision farming technology helps to prevent the overuse of chemicals, which means that harmful chemicals cannot affect the soil since they cannot seep into it.
Understanding farm nutrient levels and soil types across the farm is one of precision agriculture's biggest advantages. We are aware that different fields and geographical regions have different water retention capacities, nitrogen mineralization rates, and other characteristics. Understanding these variations allows us to avoid over-applying nitrogen, which can cause lodging, or to boost minerals like potassium, which improve standability in regions where it is deficient.
Profit is multiplied with precision agriculture compared to traditional agriculture due to lower input costs and higher yields. Additionally, precision farming aids in increasing agricultural yields of higher-quality crops. Precision farming also lessens crop failure.
At a small-scale level, there are five key barriers to the adoption of precision farming technology: limited land size, high adoption costs, technological challenges, a lack of adequate professional help, and a lack of supportive policies.
Some solutions could be - joint/collective actions, zone delineation/field boundary detection, cooperation-cooperatives; low-cost technology, use of common machinery; education, (common) knowledge, use of standards, simple and user-friendly technology; professional support of vendors, advisors, agricultural contractor services; and policy-initiated investments and adequate regulations, respectively.
Precision farming is a cutting-edge agricultural method that employs technology to raise crop yields and cut waste. This new-age technology houses enormous potential to support agriculture that is more sustainable. It can be hugely beneficial in increasing crop yields, decreasing waste, and making farming more sustainable by creating more awareness about precision farming.
Adopting precision farming methods has the potential to increase the productivity and sustainability of agriculture to a very large extent.