by R Santhosh Raj, Sastra University
Precision monitoring of agricultural crops integrates a set of technologies, devices, protocols, and computational paradigms to improve agricultural processes. the adoption of digital technologies in precision agriculture has enabled the farmers to treat crops and manage fields more efficiently. No wonder that the technological additions have changed the concept of farming by making it more profitable, safer, and simple. Here we will be discussing some of the technologies that are deemed to be the best in class.
GIS Based Agriculture
Since fields are location-based, GIS software becomes an incredibly useful piece of tech in terms of precision farming. While using GIS software, farmers can map the current and future changes in temperature, precipitation, plant health, crop yields, etc. It also allows us to utilise the GPS-based applications in-line with smart machinery to optimise fertiliser and pesticide application; as long as farmers don’t need to treat the whole field, but only deal with certain areas, they are able to achieve conservation of money, effort, and time. Another great benefit of GIS-based agriculture is the application of satellites and drones to collect valuable data on vegetation, soil conditions, weather, and terrain from a bird’s-eye view. Such data significantly improves the accuracy of decision-making.
Drones – Data from Sky
With the help of drones farmers have an opportunity to define the features of crops such as plant height, the presence of weeds, and water saturation on certain field areas, etc., with high precision. They also provide a better and more accurate data with higher resolution. When they are locally operated, they provide valuable information even faster than scouts. Drones also comes to the rescue in the battle against insects by applying the insecticide on the hazard areas. Though drones are easy to use and are capable of collecting large amounts of data within short time frames, they are almost helpless where monitoring of large areas is required. It is better to complement the technology with satellite monitoring among already mapped areas, where specific zones need to be cross-checked.
Satellite derived Data
Satellites, while being used to Predict yields, it also conducts almost real-time field monitoring of the crops. The sensors that are used these days are ready to give the imagery in various spectra, allowing the appliance of various spectral indices, like the Normalised Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI). NDVI allows for the detection of vegetation content, the quantity of wilting crops, Canopy Chlorophyll Content Index (CCCI) that helps with nutrient application, Normalised Difference Red Edge (NDRE), which detects Nitrogen content, the Modified Soil-Adjusted Vegetation Index (MSAVI).
Online Data Management
Online Data acts as the key To Precision Farming. Crop Monitoring allows the use of the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) for tracking crop health. The data also allows us to implement a scout. Once the task is assigned, a scout moves directly to the selected location and checks problem areas at the site, inspects pest activity, performs weed management activities etc. Since Satellite imagery is used, it provides a huge advantage for monitoring the crops by making reliable decisions – what crops to plant, when to harvest, how to effectively plan for the next season, what amount of nutrients and fertilizers apply, etc. Depending upon the weather analytics, the type of irrigation needed is also controlled.
Crop Monitoring has got to compare and analyze various data sets to provide valuable insights for your fields. The user stands in a position to match the performance of his own field with the typical performance of all the fields within the district. For facing this challenge, multiple datasets obtained from all of the fields in your district needs to be compared. Though new indices would be included in the near future, for now, such comparisons can be done only with the NDVI vegetation index which limits the necessary details of the fields.
The Precision Farming development methods of today could provide the technology essential for the environment friendly agriculture for Tomorrow! From the above-mentioned features essential for precision agriculture, It is evident that modern farms get significant benefits from the ever-evolving digital agriculture. These benefits include reduced consumption of water, nutrients, and fertilizer, reduced negative impact on the surrounding ecosystem, reduced chemical runoff into local groundwater and rivers, better efficiency, reduced prices, and many more. Thereby, business becomes cost-effective, smart, and sustainable.