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Can Smart Technology Improve Farm Performance?

Can Smart Technology Improve Farm Performance?

13 November 2013

ANALYSIS - The use of smart technology in precision farming can increase production, yields and quality. This is one of the major themes at this year’s Agritechnica in Hannover, Germany, writes Chris Harris.

Precision agriculture has revolutionised traditional farming practices and now farmers are integrating these new precision practices into their working line to operate more efficiently –making the most of what they are putting into agricultural operations, reducing costs and improving crop performance.

The use of GPS to guide, drive and control large pieces of equipment in the field has been a development that agriculture has seen for many years.

In many parts of the world intelligent driving systems are commonplace.

However, many of the latest intelligent systems are employing space-age technology to ensure that ploughing, drilling, fertiliser spreading and watering are precise and accurate.

These intelligent systems such as the G7 Farmnavigator manufactured in Italy by AvMap and the Topcon X Console can set guidelines for farming operations and create a profile of each activity and each piece of equipment, whether it is seeding , fertilising or spraying.

All the latest devices are touch screen controlled and allows the farmer to fit the use to the parameters of their farm and activity.

The new technology also allows individual vehicles and piece of equipment to communicate with each other remotely as seen in the technology from Connected Farm from Trimble.

However, farmers have also been using the latest information technology to control and manage their businesses for many years.

Now several companies are starting to bring the capability to administer and drive the business and the machines all under one roof – an much of this is controlled from a ‘app’ on an iPad, phone or screen in the cab of a vehicle.

Companies such as 365FarmNet draw together the expertise of several industry suppliers such as Claas, Bayer, Allianz, KWS, GSA and Amazone to offer solutions and advice across the board.

Companies such as 365FarmNet and many others are also using smart maps of the farm to track the growing patterns and offer advice on best practice for feritlising and watering.

Now this high level of information is not only making use of satellites to fix positions of vehicles on the farm but also to monitor the farming activities and the progress of agricultural production.
Satellite technology is being used to draw a profile of individual fields to show the most fertile areas and the arid and wet areas so that fertiliser distribution and watering can be adjusted for optimum effect.

“By referencing the absolute biomass of a fields or zone, you can compare plts at any point in time using satellite information,” Dr Wolfgang Angermair from Land Data Eurosoft told a seminar during Agritechnica.

“Biomass calculation is an essential factor for nitrogen application.”

Agricultural systems manufacturers are not only using satellite technology to ensure the latest data to assist the farmer is captured and stored.

More and more companies are now looking to use the “cloud” to store data and deliver it to the farmer in the field.

Australian company AgDNA, which was launched earlier this year allows the farmer to access third party precision farming data that has been gathered from AgDNA’s participating partners.

In a similar way, German company Agricon offers data management in the cloud.

The driving force behind this new concept for the use of advanced new technology is to ensure the farmer and farm manager are connected to the field, fleet and office wherever they are.

Using these high-tech systems farmers, the companies say that farmers can manage costs, ensure they manage fertiliser and water use as well as seed and sprays and ensure not only optimum performance for their crops but also compliance with environmental legislation and producing a sustainable and profitable business.

Chris Harris

Chris Harris

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