Global Profile: Precision Agriculture In Switzerland

Switzerland is characterized by valley, hill, and mountain landscapes. About one-third of the land is arable, while two-thirds is grassland. Plot sizes and farms tend to be small. Precision agriculture in the classic sense of sensor-supported management of gridor zone-specific differences in tillage, planting, fertilizer application, and plant protection is not widespread.

Profitable use of technology is primarily achieved by a contractor rather than by individual farms. Consequently, contractors are important agents for the spread of new technologies. Even though in practice precision agriculture is only implemented in individual cases, it generates a great deal of interest in both farming and research circles.

Targeting Weeds By The Plant

In Switzerland, agriculture that protects nature to the greatest extent possible, with the reduced use of herbicides, plays an important role. Finding an effective technique for controlling weeds in grassland is difficult, especially in organic agriculture where chemical plant treatments are banned. In particular, Rumex obtusifolius, also called broad-leaved dock, is one of the most competitive and persistent weeds in agriculture. The plant is very robust, and its dispersion is difficult to control.

Currently used methods such as time-intensive manual removal of the plants, manual treatment of individual plants with herbicides, and non-specific broad surface spraying do not produce satisfactory results. A Swiss research partnership is currently developing an automatic recognition and plant-treatment system as an alternative treatment technique.

An infrared-laser triangulation sensor and a high-resolution smart camera are used to generate 3D images of the weeds and their natural environment. In a segmentation process, contiguous surface patches are separated from one other. These 3D surface patches are compared with different criteria of a plant database containing surface parameters such as shape, state of surface, etc. When objects are extracted and confirmed as possible leaves or parts of leaves, their texture is analyzed by comparing the information of simultaneously taken 2D images with database criteria. If an object is recognized as a dock leaf, its coordinates in the vehicle coordinate system are computed and the leaves are sprayed with herbicide. The surface analysis in space can boost segmentation performance under conditions where state-of-the-art 2D recognition systems are not successful, e.g. low contrast, green-on-green images, noisy images, or images taken from inappropriate positions.

Initial results have been promising. System development focuses on a more robust imaging-sensor technique and refinement of the different algorithms. Looking to the future, the system design allows for the flexible integration of other plant species.

Controlled Traffic Farming

The soil-friendly wheel traffic concept of Controlled Traffic Farming (CTF) using GPS steering is already used extensively in Australia in field and row crops as well as in vegetable production. GPS steering systems ensure that the same vehicle tracks are used time after time, and as large a proportion of the land area as possible is no longer subjected to wheel traffic.

Although GPS steering systems are spreading more and more throughout Europe as well, CTF methods must still be adapted to the basic local strutural and technical conditions. In a field trial geared to Swiss conditions, a modified wheel-traffic concept is being examined and further developed. The hypothesis is that in addition to improving direct-drilling methods, CTF can also bring benefits in grassland management and vegetable growing.

Precision Management

For economic reasons, contractors are compelled to utilize their machines as close to capacity as possible.

GPS-supported planning and documentation solutions with continuous electronic data transfer between office, driver and machine help with job handling, billing and analysis of cost structures, as well as with the fulfillment of traceability obligations. Agricultural-machinery cooperatives and cooperative agreements between contractors with high social-welfare standards can be more easily set up by means of an IT system that fosters trust.

As proof of good professional practice and as a prerequisite for drawing direct payments, farmers must furnish extensive documentation for both plant production and the animal husbandry associated with it. Data is used not only in-farm but often also cross-farm, by the State Administration or buyers/processors.

In both cases, the creation of uniform communication standards such as ISOBUS for tractor-equipment combinations, ISOagriNET for in-farm technology linking, and agroXML for inter-farm data exchange with all agricultural interest groups is important. With communication standards as a basis, food-chain information systems can be built up. This information linkage holds great potential for the food economy as a whole.

Martin Holpp and Thomas Anken conduct research at the Agroscope Reckenholz-Tänikon Research Station ART in Ettenhausen, Switzerland. E-mail: [email protected]. Website: www.art.admin.ch.

Leave a Reply

Ag Tech Global Stories
Corn Field Sunset
Ag Tech GlobalAg Technology Among Focus Areas For Kohli Impact Investment Initiative
January 18, 2017
Tej Kohli, a serial entrepreneur, global businessman and philanthropist, has announced he has earmarked an initial $25 million USD, through his Read More
Decisive Farming My Farm Manager mobile app
Ag Tech GlobalLeading Canadian Farming Co-op Brings In New Tech To Boost Precision Agriculture
January 17, 2017
Co-op, one of the largest agricultural retailers in Western Canada, is partnering with farm management company Decisive Farming to provide Read More
Australian Harvest
Ag Tech GlobalAustralian Precision Agriculture Market, Forecast To 2020: Farmer Interest Yet To Catch Up To Industry Enthusiasm
January 13, 2017
Research and Markets has announced the addition of the “Australian Precision Agriculture Market, Forecast to 2020” report to their offering. Read More
Young Corn Field
Ag Tech GlobalEurocontrol To Commercialize Precision Agricultural Initiative
January 9, 2017
Eurocontrol Technics Group Inc., a Canadian public company specializing in the acquisition, development and commercialization of innovative test and measurement Read More
Trending Articles
PrecisionAg.com featured image
ProfessionalsWelcome to the Newly Enhanced PrecisionAg.com
December 29, 2016
Talk a quick look around our website and we hope you’ll notice it’s significantly different as we head into 2017 Read More
Ryan Raguse and Matthew Grassi
ProfessionalsIndustry Executives Talk New PrecisionAg Professional Brand
December 19, 2016
EFC Systems President and CEO Ernie Chappell Myriad Mobile Cofounder and Chairman Ryan Raguse Read More
PrecisionAg Professional logo
Industry NewsMeister Media Debuts PrecisionAg Professional
December 13, 2016
Agricultural technology is accelerating, and precision agriculture is gaining renewed interest across cropping systems. At the same time, growers are Read More
NDSU IoT
Sensors/IoTNew Farming Focused IoT Partnership Announced
December 13, 2016
Infiswift, an enterprise Internet of Things (IoT) platform developer, announces a partnership to develop IoT solutions with Acuitus Ag, an Read More
GVM E-Series cab
Ag Tech GlobalGlobalization And Precision Agriculture
December 7, 2016
Globalization has taken on a negative connotation in some circles in the U.S. in recent months. The lightning rod for Read More
Farmers Edge Truck
Data ManagementFarmers Edge, Trotter Fertilizer Form Partnership To Enhance VRT Programs
November 29, 2016
Farmers Edge, a global leader in precision agriculture and independent data management solutions, has partnered with Trotter Fertilizer, Nebraska’s foremost Read More
Latest News
Sonny Perdue
Business ManagementAg Tech CEOs Weigh In On Trump’s Pick For Ag Secr…
January 20, 2017
With President-Elect Donald Trump’s selection of Sonny Perdue as the new proposed Secretary of Agriculture, it brings a new set Read More
BASF Maglis Grower Tablet
EventsRetailers, Consultants Untangle Software Decision Proce…
January 19, 2017
Today, business and agronomy management software is the engine that facilitates a smooth running ag business. The next software decision Read More
Ag Weather Service
Decision Support SoftwareSciFi in Ag: Will Amazon’s Alexa Control the Fami…
January 19, 2017
*Article Notes: This monthly column takes some crazy sounding ideas and applies them to the field of Ag Tech. The Read More
Data ManagementNew Partnerhship Between AgIntegrated, CDMS, SeediQ Wil…
January 18, 2017
AgIntegrated, Inc. (AGI), CDMS, Inc. and SeediQ announce a partnership to develop, promote, and sell a single-source crop input reference Read More
Corn Field Sunset
Ag Tech GlobalAg Technology Among Focus Areas For Kohli Impact Invest…
January 18, 2017
Tej Kohli, a serial entrepreneur, global businessman and philanthropist, has announced he has earmarked an initial $25 million USD, through his Read More
Terry Griffin
Business ManagementUsing High Tech To Make Farm Decisions
January 17, 2017
Raj Khosla, professor of precision agriculture at Colorado State University, challenged farmers to think about how far the technology of Read More
Decisive Farming My Farm Manager mobile app
Ag Tech GlobalLeading Canadian Farming Co-op Brings In New Tech To Bo…
January 17, 2017
Co-op, one of the largest agricultural retailers in Western Canada, is partnering with farm management company Decisive Farming to provide Read More
Business ManagementCNH Names Danford Industry Relations Manager
January 17, 2017
Dan Danford has been named Industry Relations Manager, Precision Solutions and Telematics (PS&T), for CNH Industrial, parent company of agricultural Read More
Australian Harvest
Ag Tech GlobalAustralian Precision Agriculture Market, Forecast To 20…
January 13, 2017
Research and Markets has announced the addition of the “Australian Precision Agriculture Market, Forecast to 2020” report to their offering. Read More
Norris planter
Innovation SeriesCompelling Consultant Panel Kicks Off Next Month’s Prec…
January 12, 2017
Jeremy Wilson, Technology Specialist at CropIMS and renowned precision expert, leads a panel of top precision consultants to kick off Read More
Data ManagementProspera Selected for Top 100 Artificial Intelligence R…
January 11, 2017
CB Insights today selected Prospera to the prestigious Artificial Intelligence 100 list (“AI 100”), a select group of emerging private Read More
Business ManagementBREAKING: FAA Considering Less Restrictive Commercial D…
January 11, 2017
FAA is working toward allowing more freedom for drone operators, and at the same time is working with NASA on Read More
DronessenseFly, Agribotix Combine eBee SQ and FarmLens Offeri…
January 11, 2017
Agribotix has partnered with senseFly to offer a new combined solution for professional users. This technology solution combines the top Read More
Sentera software
DronesSentera Announces NDVI Livestream Capabilities for Doub…
January 10, 2017
Sentera today announced the upcoming release of LiveNDVI Video: livestreamed NDVI video via Sentera’s Double 4K sensor. This breakthrough technology Read More
Young Corn Field
Ag Tech GlobalEurocontrol To Commercialize Precision Agricultural Ini…
January 9, 2017
Eurocontrol Technics Group Inc., a Canadian public company specializing in the acquisition, development and commercialization of innovative test and measurement Read More
Corn Field
Data ManagementWaypoint Analytical, Highland Precision Ag Announce Str…
January 9, 2017
Waypoint Analytical (WP), based in Memphis, TN, and Highland Precision Ag (HPA), based in Mulberry, FL, are pleased to announce Read More
Western Canada Wheat field
EventsSixth Annual Precision Ag Summit Set for January 16-17 …
January 4, 2017
The 6th annual Precision Ag Summit will be held Jan. 16-17, at the North Dakota Farmers Union Conference Center in Read More
University of California Merced Professor Stefano Carpin
Hort TechRobots, People Working Together To Save Water, Enhance …
January 3, 2017
A nearly $1 million grant from the USDA is helping University of California researchers refine collaborative robotic technology that could Read More