A Framework For Managing Information In Precision Ag

Production decisions in precision ag rely on spatially accurate and timely information. This can come in many forms such as data, alerts, images, maps, tables, labels, commentaries, recommendations, reviews, standards and guidelines. The ever increasing flow of information has moved society ever faster into the information age. On the farm, this information flow can seem like a wave or, for the unprepared few, a tsunami.

To stem this flow, information must be managed in a way that it is readily accessible and easily incorporated in everyday decisionmaking. The management of information is both a necessity and a challenge. It is a necessity for pre-season strategic planning, in-season tactical support and ultimately for the long-term sustainability of a farming operation. It is a challenge because virtually every day some new source, device or program brings more information into the realm of farming.

Agriculture Production Flow Diagram
Click to enlarge

Viewing information in a framework helps to understand its management. A suggested framework is depicted as a flow diagram in this story. The two main sections of the diagram are the “production” space and the downstream “marketing.” Information flowing from the production space passes through processers, shippers, buyers and lastly to consumers as part of the food supply chain. The production space itself is centered on precision ag applications, which are driven by field data and alerts. Surrounding the precision ag applications are off-site monitoring, on-site monitoring, off-site modeling, grower-consultant management decisions, back-office inventory and sales and regulatory reporting.

Reading The Diagram

Starting at the top of the diagram, on-site monitoring consists of four information source examples: Weather stations, field sensors, equipment tools and scouting devices. Each source is physically located on a farm or involved in sampling the soil or a canopy. The form of each source’s information is data, either by measurement or observation.

Collectively, the four on-site monitoring sources provide field data for a fixed point (weather station), an array of fixed points (field sensors) and variable points located by GPS (equipment tools and scouting devices). Employing user-defined thresholds, field data can be in the form of alerts. Processed through a soil laboratory, field samples can be in the form of recommendations. Field data from on-site monitoring is unique among the other production space information flows because it is owned by a grower. Like management decisions that use it and precision ag applications based on it, field data is private and can only be shared with the permission of a grower.

Off-site monitoring sources represent information collected and processed remotely outside a farm. There are three examples of off-site monitoring sources: Weather, soil and imagery. Like on-site monitoring, the form of information for these sources is data. Weather data could be historical records or forecasts from governments via the Internet or be part of online subscriptions from private industry. Soil data are available from public and private databases. Imagery is available from public and private entities.

However, because it is collected with different techniques, spatial resolutions and domains, imagery, whether available from a government or a company, is increasingly being provided by 30 parties to a grower because of registration and calibration issues. Information from off-site sources must be delivered electronically to a grower and processed with a program in order to be useful for precision agriculture applications.

Off-site modeling sources provide information in the form of model output. Three examples could be models for crops, pests and water. Model output is the most sophisticated form of information because it needs minimal interpretation to be used in management decisions and can be readily input into precision ag applications. Unlike monitoring sources, off-site models can generate new information by ingesting data from those and other sources.

The on-site monitoring, off-site monitoring and off-site modeling complement each other as sources of data. Off-site monitoring data can be used to quality control on-site monitoring data. On-site monitoring data can be employed to locally calibrate large-scale model output. Together, the on-site and off-site data flows provide comprehensive sources of information for production decisionmaking.

The framework displayed in the diagram provides not only an understanding of information flow from various sources to precision ag applications, but can also serve as a tool for planning farm operations. A grower and his/her management team can begin identifying what information is necessary for a specific production decision. They can also schedule where, when and to whom this information needs to be delivered for that decision during a growing season.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Business Stories
Ag Drone
BusinessDroneDeploy Launches Turbo Uploader
September 27, 2016
DroneDeploy today announced a new solution that addresses drone data portability challenges in remote areas that have Internet bandwidth constraints. Read More
BusinessADAPT Conversion Toolkit Making In Roads With Equipment Manufacturers
September 22, 2016
A leading group of equipment manufacturers will soon release products that greatly enhance a grower’s ability to manage data across Read More
Business2016 Farm Science Review: Talkin’ New Products, Education and Big Data
September 21, 2016
The Ohio State University’s Farm Science Review has become an annual rite of fall for Buckeye State growers, retailers and Read More
BusinessGMO Aphids to Battle Weeds? It’s Not as Far Fetched as You Think…
September 21, 2016
No, I am not talking about optimizing aphids for a global agricultural armageddon. That would be silly. I’m talking about Read More
Trending Articles
Business2016 Farm Science Review: Talkin’ New Products, Education and Big Data
September 21, 2016
The Ohio State University’s Farm Science Review has become an annual rite of fall for Buckeye State growers, retailers and Read More
Mitchell Technical Institute students with drone
IntegratorsMTI Precision Ag Students Use Drone Technology
September 19, 2016
After weeks of sitting in the classroom, several Mitchell Technical Institute students were able to spend a few hours outside Read More
Robotics AGCO Fendt Guide Connect
Market ImpactReport: Ag Robots And Drones May Be A $10 Billion Market By 2022
September 7, 2016
Robots and drones have begun to quietly transform many aspects of agriculture. In fact, the IDTechEx Research report on Agricultural Read More
SDWG Bret Weisenburger
BusinessMZB Technologies, Climate FieldView Announce Data Integration for 2017 Season
September 6, 2016
MZB Technologies announces a data connectivity agreement with The Climate Corporation, a subsidiary of Monsanto Co., providing increased precision agriculture Read More
Deere R4023 cab
BusinessReport: Smart Agriculture Market Worth $19 Billion By 2021
September 6, 2016
Research and Markets has announced the addition of the “Smart Agriculture Market – With Forecast (2016-2021)” report to their offering. Read More
SDWG Bret Weisenburger
IntegratorsThe Top 10 People In Precision Agriculture
August 15, 2016
Precision agriculture — with all its wacky technologies and advanced algorithms and such — remains a people business. So, without Read More
Latest News
Ag Drone
BusinessDroneDeploy Launches Turbo Uploader
September 27, 2016
DroneDeploy today announced a new solution that addresses drone data portability challenges in remote areas that have Internet bandwidth constraints. Read More
FUSE Farm Graphic
DataAGCO Is Founding Member Of The DKE Data-Hub Initiative
September 26, 2016
AGCO Corp., a world-leading manufacturer and distributor of agricultural equipment, has announced its participation as a founding member of the DKE Read More
Ian Yule, ISPA
ResearchLeading Ag Technology Researcher Appointed ISPA Preside…
September 26, 2016
Massey University’s Professor Ian Yule, one of the world’s leading agri-tech researchers, has been voted president of the International Society Read More
BusinessADAPT Conversion Toolkit Making In Roads With Equipment…
September 22, 2016
A leading group of equipment manufacturers will soon release products that greatly enhance a grower’s ability to manage data across Read More
Business2016 Farm Science Review: Talkin’ New Products, Educati…
September 21, 2016
The Ohio State University’s Farm Science Review has become an annual rite of fall for Buckeye State growers, retailers and Read More
Farmers Edge Truck
DataFarmers Edge Awarded $6.1M Investment From Sustainable …
September 21, 2016
Farmers Edge, a global leader in precision agriculture and independent data management solutions, has announced that it will receive $6,107,563 Read More
BusinessGMO Aphids to Battle Weeds? It’s Not as Far Fetch…
September 21, 2016
No, I am not talking about optimizing aphids for a global agricultural armageddon. That would be silly. I’m talking about Read More
Young Corn Field
Best PracticesNitrogen: The Key to Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions
September 20, 2016
Precision ag can play a key role in reducing agriculture’s impact on greenhouse gases by limiting the nitrogen rate. Read More
W. Wade Robey, Raven
Industry NewsRaven Adds New Director Of Engineering
September 19, 2016
W. Wade Robey, Ph.D., joined Raven Applied Technology in August 2016 as Director of Engineering. In this role, he leads Read More
Mitchell Technical Institute students with drone
IntegratorsMTI Precision Ag Students Use Drone Technology
September 19, 2016
After weeks of sitting in the classroom, several Mitchell Technical Institute students were able to spend a few hours outside Read More
BusinessOPINION: Climate Corp. is the Jewel in Bayer’s Monsanto…
September 15, 2016
PERSPECTIVE: Over the next few days and weeks in the ag media space the major players will examine this latest Read More
Sugarcane India
Market ImpactPlantations International Brings Precision Farming Tech…
September 14, 2016
Hong Kong-based plantation and farm management company Plantations International has announced it is moving its contact centre from the Indian Read More
Corn close up
Start-UpsLewis & Clark Ventures Raises $20 Million For Agric…
September 13, 2016
Lewis & Clark Ventures, a venture capital firm focused on Series A and B stage investments, has announced $20 million Read More
BusinessSentera Joins Forces With Another Drone Distributor
September 13, 2016
Sentera has signed an exclusive distribution agreement with Dynamic UAV Solutions North America, LLC, a new distributor in the commercial Read More
New Zealand agriculture
Market ImpactPrecision Ag Technology Helping New Zealand Agriculture…
September 12, 2016
New Zealand has an enormous opportunity to use technology as a means to support the economic growth of its agri Read More
Robotics AGCO Fendt Guide Connect
Market ImpactReport: Ag Robots And Drones May Be A $10 Billion Marke…
September 7, 2016
Robots and drones have begun to quietly transform many aspects of agriculture. In fact, the IDTechEx Research report on Agricultural Read More
EventsPrecisionAg Vision Conference: Find Your Future in Phoe…
September 7, 2016
As the summer winds down and harvest begins in earnest, the time for immersing ourselves in future planning is getting Read More
SDWG Bret Weisenburger
BusinessMZB Technologies, Climate FieldView Announce Data Integ…
September 6, 2016
MZB Technologies announces a data connectivity agreement with The Climate Corporation, a subsidiary of Monsanto Co., providing increased precision agriculture Read More