Precision agriculture, its process and vitality
Precision Agriculture is a farming management concept which is based on measuring, observing and responding to intra and inter-field variation in the crops. (Blackmore et al., 2003) define precision agriculture as the management of spatial and temporal variability at a sub-field level to improve economic returns and reduce environmental impact. It is also referred as Satellite Farming/SSCM (Site Specific Crop Management). Precision Agriculture was firstly introduced in United States in 1980s. Precision agriculture has been practiced above 15 years mostly in North America and North Europe. During the several last decades, the electronic revolution has launched two technologies that will affect the agriculture. These technologies are GPS (Global Positioning system) and GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System). When GPS and GNSS came to know then the concept of Precision Agriculture become popular.
GPS, GNSS and Remote Sensing trained the farmers to design their field in that way by which correct position of the field should be known rather than in the field. Modern technology improves the Precision Agriculture to provide lot of benefits to farmers and improves agriculture practices in which Crop Scouting and Yield Monitoring also involved. Precision Agriculture can be subjected to different agriculture practices but the economic improvement by technology is common among them.
Precision agriculture is a four-step process:
1- Geo-location of records/data.
2- Variability characterization.
3- Decision Process.
4- Address variability by implementation of practices.
In first step (Geo-location of records/data) as farmers are well aware about the crop, soil, nutrients and fertility status of their fields, they should visit the field and gets information crop after crop.
In second step (Variability characterization) as inter and intra variability is present in the field which may be in the form of drought, hail, rain, weeds and agriculture practices, a farmer keeps farming in good position when he gets knowledge of it.
In third step (Decision Process) decisions are made by the farmer keeping in view the environment, field design, crops stage and funds availability. Decision making leads than other three steps of Precision Agriculture because all of the process depends upon the thinking power of farmer that what he wants? What can he do? And how he can manage?
The last step (Address variability by implementation of practices) involves the whole implementation of the agriculture practices or the decision in an action.
Precision agriculture plays a vital role in improving the agriculture. To improve its vitality some of the examples are explained here. With the help of precision agriculture, yield can be monitored with the help of yield monitors. They give the information about crop yield by time or distance. With the GPS receivers, yield can be monitored. As GPS receivers coupled with yield monitors and provide information of long term spatial coordination for the yield monitor data.
For granular, liquid and gaseous fertilizer materials, variable rate controllers are available. Variable rates can be controlled either by driver or automatically by computer.
With the help of GPS receiver and data logger, a farmer can map weeds while seeding, spraying and combining. These maps are then mapped on computer and then compared with the fertilizer maps, spray maps and yield maps. Also by knowing the location of weed from map, a farmer can control the weeds by implementation of herbicides.
A farmer can also track the change in salinity level over time. He can be guided by a guidance system that replaces the conventional equipment markers for spraying or seeding.
With the help of electronic sensors a lot of data can be collected in a short period of time. Also electronic controllers can also be designed to provide signals that are recorded electronically. For this purpose a lot of disk space is required to store all the data.
Also precision agriculture gives following information to the farmers.
1- Keeps the record of the farm.
2- Improving the decisions.
3- Increasing the market value of agri products.
4- How social setup can be built?
5- Improves the quality of agri outputs.
Precision Agriculture results in reduction of artificial nutrients supply and other inputs while improving the yield. Farmers get profit on their investment in the form of output. The other benefit is saving environment by targeting inputs. Application of correct type of inputs in right time and place protect and improves the soil, water and crops. Thus Precision Agriculture is a pillar of sustainable agriculture. Since it gives benefit to farmers, soil and crops. Sustainable agriculture ensures the chain supply of eating material in the ecological, economic and social range over a long period.