Efficient agriculture through smart farming

Smart farming means efficient agriculture.  Smart farming is a farming management concept using modern technology to increase the quantity and quality of agricultural products.

Efficient agriculture through smart farming

Precision agriculture – Smart Farming:

Precision agriculture or Smart Farming means that plants or animals get treatment precisely which they need and determined with great accuracy thanks to the latest technology. A range of technologies are used to this end including GPS, Sensor technology, ICT and robotics.

Technology can assist in strategic decision making at farm level as well as with operational actions at plant level. This allows production to be optimized and means we can work on more sustainable crops.

The big difference with classical agriculture is that rather than determining the necessary action for each individual field precision agriculture allows actions to be determined per square meter or even per plant.

In order to achieve this, Sensors are required to record observational data from the crops or the soil Observation. On the basis of the sensor values specific software with decision rules and models is used to ascertain the condition of the crop or soil and any deficiencies or needs diagnostics and determine whether location specific treatment is necessary and if so which Decisions.

Lastly the treatment also needs to be performed by means of the correct operation of machines Implementation. After evaluation the chain starts again from the beginning.

The first success stories have already been achieved through Smart Farming. Fixed tracks and straight line systems have been introduced in arable farming and vegetable cultivation businesses primarily in order to make cultivation measures such as ploughing easier. Section control is possible when using sprayers thus reducing duplication in spraying activities.

Yield maps can be created using measuring equipment on harvesting machines making it possible to estimate and show the location specific variations in yield.

Crop reflectance measurements obtained through remote and near sensing can also be used to produce maps showing yield predictions. In turn these measurements can be used as input for location specific fertilization and crop protection.

Smart agriculture includes agricultural practices with the adoption of internet of thing (IoT), sensors and others in order to increase the productivity of the farm.

Smart agriculture also addresses the inter-linked challenges of food security and climate change and benefit smallholder farmers by increasing efficiency of inputs such as labor, seeds and fertilizers, increasing food security. By protecting ecosystems and landscapes smart agriculture practice helps protect natural resources for future generations.

Precision Livestock Farming:

The Smart Farming system is also being developed within livestock farming particularly dairy farming or Smart Dairy Farming. Cows that wear sensors to monitor behavior and health.

Collar replaces fence

Cows wear a collar with a sensor to register her field position and to signal the cow. The cow receives signals as soon as she comes too close to or threatens to overstep the by GPS coordinates defined virtual fence.

This method offers farmers the possibility to graze cows according to their needs. It allows the use of new grazing routines e.g. give top producing cows in a group priority access to a fresh highest quality grass strip.

Scaling up the next step towards large scale implementation is technological development of the system into a reliable, sustainable and cost efficient product.

Sustainable Agriculture and Smart Farming:

Tomorrow’s challenges of doubling food supply put sustainability of agriculture at one level with ensuring food security. The global food system needs to be resource efficient and at the same time sustainable.

Efficient use of water reduction of soil erosion and degradation to the minimum, minimization of energy input and maximization of yields under uncertain natural conditions are the goal.

Improvement Requires:

  1. Improvement of the practical applicability of sensor images
  2. The continued development of computation models and decision rules that translate sensor images and data into better cultivation measures for the end users: growers and agricultural contractors.
  3. The improvement of the ICT infrastructure, data interchangeability and standardization.
  4. Demonstrating the advantages of precision agriculture that the growers and agricultural contractors could enjoy.

There are many reasons to implement a smart agriculture solution into commercial and local farming. In a world where the internet of things is accelerating adoption of data gathering and automation, an important industry such as agriculture can surely benefit.

Monitoring and collecting data for soil moisture, air temperature, air humidity and sunlight intensity across multiple fields will improve efficiency of water usage and crop yield of large and local farms.

As the world population increases, farming and food production will have to increase with it. Low cost sensors, data insights and IoT Platforms will enable this increase in efficiency and production. Here are some benefits of implementing a smart agriculture solution:

Benefits or advantages of Smart Agriculture:

Following are the benefits or advantages of Smart Agriculture:

  • It allows farmers to maximize yields using minimum resources such as water, fertilizers and seeds etc.
  • Solar powered and mobile operated pumps save cost of electricity.
  • Smart agriculture use drones and robots which helps in many ways. These improves data collection process and helps in wireless monitoring and control.
  • It is cost effective method.
  • It delivers high quality crop production

Drawbacks or disadvantages of Smart Agriculture

Following are the drawbacks or disadvantages of Smart Agriculture:

  • The smart agriculture needs availability of internet continuously. Rural part of most of the developing countries do not fulfil this requirement. More over internet connection is slower.
  • The smart farming based equipment’s require farmers to understand and learn the use of technology. This is major challenge in adopting smart agriculture farming at large scale across the countries.
  • As inputs become more costly, site-specific crop management.

Authors: Muhammad Umar Hameed, Muhammad Sajjad

(University of Agriculture Faisalabad)