Role of precision agriculture in food security

Agriculture sector is a voguish sector in which our life and business enterprises are combine together. Agriculture is considered to be backbone of Pakistan with a share of 23.4% in economy of our country.

Now a days, food security is a big challenge and focus of agriculture sector is to maximize production for growing population. Pakistan must pay attention on priority bases to enhance the productivity of agriculture sector.

The important role of agriculture sector is to minimizing poverty, provide employment opportunity for work force.  Approximately, 70% of total population of Pakistan lives in rural areas, 45% of labor force is engaged with agriculture sector.

Wheat, Rice, Maize, Sugarcane and Cotton are major crops in Pakistan. According to the economic survey of Pakistan, contribution of major crops in agriculture sector are 25.6% while 5.4% in gross domestic product (GDP).

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Besides major crops, contribution of minor crops in agriculture sector are 11.6%. Livestock is a sub-sector of Pakistan agriculture which contributes 56% value addition in agriculture and 11% in GDP.

Unfortunately, agriculture productivity is very low in Pakistan so profit margin for farmer is very low that’s why farmers are not able to purchase advance technology, high quality seeds, and other inputs as well.

Role of Precision Agriculture

Precision Agriculture is defined as information and technology based farm management within the field for optimum profitability, sustainability and conserve the land resources. Precision Agriculture techniques involve doing more with less inputs and reducing harmful applications to the soil or crop.

This means optimizing the use of water, fuel, fertilizers, pesticides and maximizing farm profitability. Precision agriculture focus on distribution of inputs on site specific basis to maximize cost/benefit ratio. For better farming, information technology enhances the crop production by efficient utilization of farm inputs.

Now a days, farmers are also looking for new way to increase farm productivity and decrease cost of farm inputs which is possible by precision farming. For precision farming, spatial information technology is used such as Global positioning system (GPS) and geographic information system (GIS) to make precision in different cropping system.

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The emerging challenges for agriculture are climate change and water shortage. Precision farming can face these challenges because precision technology distributes farm inputs on site specific area of crop.

Precision technology is considered as advanced technique to protect the environment from environmental pollution. Global positioning system (GPS) increase the efficiency of farm inputs with their optimum use.

Precision farming provide useful information to the farmer for optimum use of inputs likes irrigation, fertilizers, pesticides and seed as well. Precision farming also maintain water table in the soil.

Precision farming are now being practiced in different vegetables, fruits and crops like barley, maize, wheat, soybean, tomato, onion, potato, sugarcane, grape, forages and citrus. Crop-input determination, variable-rate application, yield monitoring and parallel swath navigation are the important garb of precision farming.

Precision agriculture based on three things

  • Crops cultivation according to need of the crop
  • Increasingly economics challenges through more efficient practices (e.g. improved management of fertilizer usage and other inputs.
  • Minimizing environmental risks due to farming practices (e.g. limiting leaching of nitrogen)
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Components of Precision Agriculture

There are four components of precision Agriculture.

  1. GPS (Global Positioning System)
  2. GIS (Geographical Information System)
  3. Variable Rate Technologies
  4. Remote Sensing

Applications of GPS

GPS-based applications in precision farming are being used for

  • field mapping
  • soil sampling
  • farm planning
  • crop scouting
  • yield mapping
  • tractor guidance

Applications of GIS

GPS-based applications in precision farming are being used for

  • to measure layers of boundaries
  • to take aerial photos
  • to take different measurements
  • to take data from various sources for analysis.

Applications of Remote Sensing

Remote sensing applications in precision farming are being used for

  • Crop Height Monitoring
  • Chlorophyll Measurement
  • Electrical Conductivity (EC)
  • Aerial Photography
  • Satellite Imagery

Need of precision Agriculture

In future precision agriculture

  • Increase yield of different crops
  • Reduce investment for crop production
  • Reduce pest and disease problems in different crops
  • Increasing the use of sustainable farming practices
  • Ensure food security for 9 billion people

Authors: Rashid Rafique*1, Arslan Ali1, Akhtar Abbas 2, Muhammad Asad1

1 Department of Agronomy, 2Department of Plant Breeding and Genetics, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, Pakistan.

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