The field of precision agriculture is growing rapidly and is not slowing down anytime soon. There are so many aspects that go into precision agriculture to give a farmer a better chance in being more successful and more importantly gain a larger profit.
The most common thing everyone thinks of when discussing the idea of precision agriculture is GPS. But there is so much more that goes into it. Just a few more components that I think of off the top of my head are yield mapping, soil sampling, remote sensing, (GIS) geographic information system, and (VRT) variable-rate technology
As professor Atherton says in our precision agriculture class all these components go into making up the umbrella of precision agriculture. The main question every farmer has after harvest is what can we do to improve and make the next crop better or more profitable. And that is where all the components will come into play, what tillage system to use, how much fertilizer of which specific type to put were, which soil type would benefit from a higher seed population, which hybrid did best on in the conditions that were presented to it. Now we can answer all of these questions with cold hard facts based off of our own past experiences. No more playing the guessing game or relying on what you here from the all the neighbors at the coffee shop.
High Input Cost
With the input cost as high as they are it is making farming harder to turn a profit. Any way to cut cost, but still make a profit is becoming the game of farming and this is where VRT comes into play. Being able to change the rate of applied input depending on the condition is where you will save the most money. For example over applying fertilizer will not hurt your yield, but it will hurt you in the pocket book. The question that is asked here is why would you spend more money to get the same results and no major gain of profitability. To break it down into simpler terms would it make more sense to spend one dollar to get ten dollars in return or to spend nine dollars and still only get ten dollars in return. But the fertilizer example is not the only input cost that comes into factor. One other major input cost that VRT can help cut cost is with your seed by changing population throughout the field based on soil types, drainage issues, or any other limiting factor.
One major problem that many farmers have during anytime of the year is stress. The main reason for that is that there is no guarantee. It is all a gamble and I believe that precision agriculture can help. Anything that I can see in a picture or in person helps me comprehend better and faster. That is where yield mapping and soil mapping come into play and the visual information that you can use to see what happened and where improvements can be made. Another major example of relief of stress is the most simple thing in precision agriculture. That is just a simple auto steer application, push a button and let your mind at ease. Think of the time and fuel you can save from not having constant overlap or skips. Also some say how hard is it to run a tractor all day, you just sit there and look through a window. Well honestly if that is all it was it wouldn’t be to bad, but there is always so much going on that the farmer has to keep track of. There is always something that can go wrong.
There is nothing that I dread more than when my dad says it is time to walk a field. But what is there now that saves farmers the hassle of walking through their field to check on their crops. Well the one thing that comes to mind is call in your local agronomist to come scout and tell you the results of what they found. But anymore what they will do is pull out their handy little drone and fly it over your field and they can basically get any information that they need from their monitoring device. Then if needed they can go to the specific spot in the field and get a better understanding of what is going on. Already you have saved yourself and your agronomist time, and as the widely known quote says “time is money”.
Which Company to Choose
Before there was an explosion in the market there were only a few products to choose from but now that everyone is starting to get a handle on it there are too many to count. Honestly I have no recommendations of which company is better than another. I would almost like to call this a technology revolution in farming due to the fact there are always improvements being made. The best thing you can do in my opinion is first figure out a budget of what you are willing to spend. Second, I would find all the companies with a product within your budget and compare them. Things to look for when comparing them would be what all does this product do, is there a yearly subscription fee, how is the customer service, and lastly do they have the best quality of product that you can afford.
What you just read is a very broad overview of the precision farming world and there is so much more that goes into it. I highly recommend everyone to start moving towards looking into what would work on their farm to help improve profitability. Just like the machinery that farmers use on a daily basis precision farming equipment and software is an investment in which you will see a return on. Depending on how much you invest will be the main factor in how big of a return you will see.
My name is Baily Schnettgoecke and I am currently a junior at Western Illinois University. I am majoring in Agriculture Science with an emphasis in technology management. I was raised on a grain/livestock farm just outside of Carrollton, IL which is about two hours south of Macomb. When I am not at school or working on the farm I usually stay busy working with our herd of show calves.