Precision Farming: Using Data To Improve Farming Outcomes

What is Precision Farming?
Precision farming is a kind of smart farming where optimal amounts of inputs such as manure, water, pesticides and even temperature modulations are made to maximize yield. This type of farming relies on technical tools like sensors, GPS guidance, self-driving vehicles, robots, telematics, GPS based soil sampling, GPS based seeding, and more to make farming scalable and profitable. This is a sustainable way of farming which uses technology in every aspect of the end to end agricultural life cycle. This increases efficiency, optimises processes, and decreases the risk factor of spoilage or losses significantly. With precision farming, farmers can rely on data analytics instead of their intuition and advice that isn’t backed by data. This revolutionises every step in the life cycle, right from seed selection, predicting the output quantity, pesticides involved, and the distribution process. The advantages of precision farming are:
Increased per square foot agricultural yield
Optimized seeding
Optimized use of fertilisers and pesticides and increased soil quality
Introduces avenues to imbibe sustainable practices
Efficient use of water and resources.

How Precision Farming is changing Farm Management?

Optimized farm inputs and resource utilization

Precision farming in India relies on GPS based technology solutions, sensor data, satellite imagery, GIS data, harvesters and yield monitors, among others. Precision farming is a launch platform for farmers of all sizes to migrate from traditional farming practices to a data-driven approach that recommends optimum solutions right from crop selection, to irrigation processes to marketing and distribution. Precision farming is especially helpful in cases where there is lower manpower available and the tract of land is difficult to manage with existing manpower. It is also a solution to minimize the wastage of inputs and ensure that crops planted across the farm receive the right kind of nutrients and farming inputs needed to maximize yield.

Each crop has its own unique needs in terms of inputs, a one size fits all approach does not work. Some crops such as rice and corn may require high water inputs for optimal yield while, in some crops the same water input may cause spoilage. Similar to how we measure our BMI and other health indicators to decide on our diet and exercise regimen, each crop has an optimal input schedule that needs to be followed. Precision farming allows us to adhere to this schedule and ensures maximum yield.

GPS to achieve high on field accuracy

The first GPS based precision farming method was practised in the 1900s. Where tractors were to be enabled with a GPS device that would follow a set route and co-ordinates in the pre-seeding phase. Nowadays there are multiple machines such as combine harvesters, self driving tractors, weeders and more that require little to no human intervention and can mechanize every stage of the farming process. This allows farmers to ensure that the errors and costs associated with tilling, seeding, and harvesting were brought down significantly. With this, farmers and agri-consultants are able to save millions annually in fuel, water, and seeding related expenses.

Farm GIS and Data Management for Improved Decision-making

GIS is a method of forming spatial images using satellite imagery, drones, and other visual mediums to record data and analyse it to make informed decisions in the lifecycle of the crop. With GIS farmers can now have data-driven insights on soil type, elevation matrix, the direction of the wind, insights on rainfall, the slope of the cultivable soil, chances of soil erosion, fertilisation ratio, and more.
Satellite imagery, drones, and unmanned-aircrafts are used to collect spatial data on the land in context. That data is analysed to enable the farmers to gain insights on the stage of fruition, atmospheric moisture content, weather predictions and more. The use of robotics and advanced unmanned-aerial equipment clubbed with the GPS based satellite imagery has now empowered farmers of all kinds to make the switch from traditional forms of agriculture to precision farming.

Agricultural Robots and Drones Take Over Mundane Tasks

Robots are getting smarter and smaller. With precision farming in India, agriculture is now ushering to a new level that is migrating from a macro care process to a micro-level. With advanced robotics, farmers can now save money, time, and workforce on tasks like seeding, fertilisation, and weeding. Today, there are specific robots designed for these tasks with an accuracy level of more than 96%. While traditionally, heavy machinery is used for harvesting, a new array of robots and drones that are significantly smaller in size have been introduced to fine-tune the on-field processes on a micro-level.

Variable Rate Technology – An Invaluable Farmer’s Tool

Variable Rate Technology (VRT) is an integrated analysis of GIS-based data, data collated from GPS equipped farming devices, and other sources of data inputs that are used in precision farming. With VRT, farmers are now able to develop and optimize their agricultural practices every season constantly. VRT relies on BigData and constantly analyses data on multiple variables like rainfall, soil erosion, soil fertility, irrigation methods, terrain inputs, fertiliser distribution, and more to provide the farmer with the inputs that could save millions in raw material and workforce.

For example, with VRT, the farmer will now be able to know the current state of soil and the nutrient content in it. With this information as constant, he will be advised by the system to optimise the fertiliser input in a way that it is neither too much nor insufficient, thereby, minimising overspend on it. Likewise, VRT empowers the farmer with actionable data on multiple factors to enable better farming practices that are better for the yield and are sustainable.

The way forward

The benefits of precision farming can be reaped on a long-term basis. Though the initial cost of set up might seem steep, the pros outweigh the cons and the return on investment on this is consistent and scalable. Precision farming can be easily integrated into current agricultural practices on landholdings of all sizes.

Modern Farming ERPs such as KhetiBuddy are your perfect partner for precision farming in India. The sensor data that is received on-field and IoT systems can be hooked up and integrated to the dashboard to give you a real-time analysis of your farm. KhetiBuddy can help in collecting, monitoring, improvising on the farming data as well as integrating with other software platforms.

It also acts as a platform where you can also seamlessly connect with your business partners such as field-staff or vendor, be it agri-consultant, dealer, manufacturer or retailer. Everyone who has a role to play in the Agribusiness sales cycle will also benefit greatly from having a single management system in place which ensures transparency.

If you’re a farmer owner or business looking to get into precision farming, talk to an expert from team KhetiBuddy learn more.

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