Precision Agriculture: The Future of Farming

Food production, specifically agriculture, is a crucial component in the expansion of civilizations. As populations grow, the need for more food rises. The gathering of data is the new frontier in advancement for agriculture technology. The more known about the field the better it can be nurtured. Precision agriculture is defined as “the application of technologies and principles to manage spatial and temporal variability associated with all aspects of agricultural production for the purpose of improving crop performance and environmental quality.” [1].

Figure 1 Precision Ag. Wireless Sensor Network [2]
A farmer is able to optimize their crop production by monitoring soil conditions through a deployment of wireless sensors and reacting to that data. A major component is proper amounts of water. An automated irrigation system can be deployed that contains sensors monitoring soil moisture and temperature at different depths and can water the field accordingly, reducing water waste. Another possibility is using proper amounts of fertilizer for specific parts of the field. If one rate of fertilizer is applied across the whole field, there could be over fertilization in one part of the field and under fertilization in the other, sometimes causing runoff and pollution. Sensors detecting nitrate levels in the soil can be connected to the tractor or applicator applying fertilizer to the field and can automatically adjust based on the GPS of the tractor and sensor.

Another issue that precision agriculture helps solve is disease and pest control. Some diseases are prone to occur at certain combinations of temperature levels, moisture, and too high of PH. A wireless sensor monitoring system can alert the farmer through computer software that a specific region of the field, for example, has PH levels too high and could cause brown rot and suggest appropriate actions are needed.

Figure 2 Projection of world population [3]
Precision agriculture is the next big leap in farming. Increasing populations will raise demand for more food. Precision agriculture will facilitate greater yield from crops while also reducing necessary land and workload for field workers.

 

[1] Francis J. Pierce, Peter Nowak, Aspects of Precision Agriculture, Advances in Agronomy, Volume 67, 1999, Pages 1-85, ISSN 0065-2113

[2] Precision Agriculture Wireless sensor network. Digital image. Source Tech 411. N.p., June 2013. Web.

[3] US Census Bureau, Demographic Internet Staff. “International Programs, International Data Base.” World    Population: 1950-2050. US Census Bureau, Demographic Internet Staff, 27 June 2011. Web. 29 Apr. 2017.

Syth Ryan

About Syth Ryan

Syth is a former software engineer with DISTek. He has worked on numerous agile scrum teams working with Model Based Software Development(MBSD), AUTOSAR tools, C and C ++. He has a Bachelors in Computer Science from the University of Northern Iowa and a Masters of Computer Engineering from Iowa State University.

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