Precision Agriculture had its birth during the 1980s when farmers began using GPS technology to map and monitor their fields accurately
The significant advancement of technology has paved the way for farmers to maximise yields despite having minimal resources. Modern farmers are now using environmental sensors to help them understand their crops at a micro-scale level. With the data gathered from these sensors, farmers can map out areas in their fields that require attention. Thus, farmers can accurately determine where to allocate their resources. The use of environmental sensors has given rise to a new kind of agriculture known as Smart Agriculture or Precision Agriculture.
The Start of Precision Agriculture
Precision Agriculture had its birth during the 1980s when farmers began using GPS technology to map and monitor their fields accurately. Farmers were able to pinpoint field areas that require fertiliser application or weed control. The advancement of technology has given rise to several devices that could measure more variables used for farming application.
Here are some environmental sensors being used for precision agriculture:
Smart Sensors for Animals
You can attach environmental sensors to farm animals to keep track of their activity level and health. For example, sensors can easily give an idea of the animal’s health by monitoring their body temperature levels. With sensors, you can quickly identify and separate sick animals. Sensors on animals will also help farmers to determine where the animals are. This ability is beneficial, especially for farms with massive amounts of grazing land.
Location sensors connect to GPS systems to determine data such as location and altitude.
An optical sensor measures the different light frequencies. When used with a drone or aerial technology, optical sensors can monitor soil reflectance to inform farmers where to focus field irrigation. Plant colours can also be monitored to determine which areas of the field have healthy plants and which areas need attention. Optical sensors can also be used to monitor soil types and moisture content of the soil.
Mechanical sensors are environmental sensors that measure the compaction of the soil. These sensors penetrate the soil and record any resistive forces they encounter. Data gathered from mechanical sensors can inform farmers about field areas that need tilling or predict the pulling requirements for ground equipment.
Dielectric Moisture Sensors
This environmental sensor records moisture level by measuring against a dielectric constant in the soil. The data will give farmers information on field areas that have dry land that needs irrigation.
Agricultural Weather Stations
Agricultural weather stations are strategically placed throughout a farmstead. Weather stations have multiple environmental sensors that are calibrated to measure parameters that apply to the farm. Information, such as soil temperature, rainfall, chlorophyll, wind direction, wind speed, air temperature, and atmospheric pressure, is measured at different intervals and analysed to determine existing and future weather conditions.
All the data collected from these environmental sensors are transmitted wirelessly to a central system, analysed, and reported to farm owners. Modern farmers utilise environmental sensors to gain access to a wealth of data that they can use to improve their farming. Information that is gathered could be used to develop the best course of action for the farms. The data collected can also help identify the best time for planting, prevent soil from drying out, predict any outbreak of pests and diseases, monitor animal health, and other relevant predictions related to harvesting.
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