To have a good performance in the management of your property, the rural producer needs to know how to use the technological resources available today, in order to make a more efficient management of his production and increase his income. Precision farming offers tools that enable you to get a better understanding of the agricultural areas and seek solutions to increase productivity and make better use of natural resources.
But do you know what precision farming is? What are the advantages of this management system? How does spatial variability mapping work? What technologies are used? Here are the answers to these and other questions for you to understand why this is so important.
Find out what is precision farming
Precision farming is an integrated production management system that attempts to define the type and amount of inputs needed for the crop, taking into account the needs of each field and seeking for the proper management of soil, inputs and crops.
It is an agricultural production management system that considers the spatial and temporal variability of the cultivable area and uses the latest technology to apply management procedures, taking into account the productive differences and the different factors involved in the production.
See how precision farming started
Precision farming has emerged as an information management system and has grown with the advance of referencing and positioning technology and the emergence of mechanisms such as GPS and remote sensing.
Even before the Industrial Revolution, farmers were already able to recognize the spatial variability of certain physical-chemical and biological characteristics of the cultivated areas. At that time, they still used hand labor and animal traction to treat areas of lesser or greater fertility, or with infestations of pests, diseases, and weeds.
Precision farming as we know it today would have arisen in mid-1929 in the United States. It was verified, then, the existence of great variations in the need of liming in certain areas and it was verified that the application of limestone should respect this variability.
In Brazil, the first research actions in the area were carried out in 1997 at the University of São Paulo’s School of Agriculture, where pioneering work on maize crop resulted in the first map of crop variability in Brazil.
At that time, agricultural machines with GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) receivers, on-board computers and systems were introduced in the country, which enabled the generation of productivity maps.
Precision farming is currently used in Brazil mainly in the corn, soybean, coffee, cane, beans, as well as in fruit growing, precision livestock and irrigation.
Understand the advantages of this management system
Precision farming enables greater control of property management, favoring faster, more informed and efficient decision making. The manager thus has greater precision in the distribution of the inputs, applying them only in places and when they are most needed, thus minimizing production costs.
With this technology, it is possible to collect a large amount of crop-specific data, which can support decision making and reduce business uncertainty. The greater the amount of data collected, the better the diagnosis will be on the variability present in the analyzed crops.
By correcting the factors that contribute to production variability, it is possible to achieve greater uniformity in the results, leading to an overall increase in productivity. Consequently, this management system favors the reduction of the risk of the agricultural activity and of the costs of production and assures greater crop productivity.
The local application also contributes to the preservation of the environment, since agricultural inputs and pesticides are applied only in the places, in the quantity and in the time required.
Learn how mapping capabilities work
The maps of crop yields spatial distribution allow a relation between soil quality and crop productivity, correcting the factors that generate great variability in order to achieve uniformity in production. Spatial variability refers to attributes related to soil texture, fertility, pest control, and yield.
Variability mapping allows the application of agricultural inputs in varying amounts, according to the spatial and temporal variability identified by the sensors, the needs of each plot of the cultivated area and the most appropriate moment for input application. Since each piece of rural property has different characteristics, every square meter of a productive field needs to be mapped and treated differently.
By mapping the factors that contribute to the variability in the agricultural areas, one obtains a greater precision in the control of the processes, applying inputs such as seeds, fertilizers and chemical substances according to the needs of each area and contributing to achieve better results.
See how each stage of the production process works
Soil preparation involves an analysis to measure productivity, search for the causes of its variation and application of fertilizers and correctives at variable rates. This management system also takes into account the productivity of previous crops to generate maps and restore extracted nutrients.
Planting is also done with variable rates, according to the productive potential of each area. During the monitoring of the plantation, pests and diseases are mapped and the localized application of agricultural pesticides is done. At harvest time, productivity maps are also generated and machines with productivity sensors are used.
To enable an accurate analysis of cultivated areas, softwares have been developed which will generate maps for the right interpretation of what needs to be corrected and allow decisions to be made more appropriately, reducing risks and minimizing production costs. Big Data analysis allow the interpretation of a large volume of data, which is used to optimize the applications at each point of the crop.
As we have seen, precision farming assists the producer in the management of his property, enabling the use of inputs at the correct time, place and quantity, promoting productivity and sustainability.