Specialty Crops: Precision Agriculture And Big Data Gaining Traction Fast

Farming big data style
Technology is going mobile, allowing growers to access information in the field from tablets or phones. Photo courtesy of Highland Precision Ag

This year, the iPhone will celebrate its 10th birthday. In only a decade, smartphones have found their way into just about everyone’s pocket and have fundamentally changed the world, writes Frank Giles on GrowingProduce.com. Looking back 10 years ago, one wonders how anybody ever got by without these little computers that fit in the palm of their hand.

The data-driven age that will unfold over the next decade will take society to even greater heights of automation and intuitive technology aimed at making life easier and more productive. Challenges and questions of ethics will arise as new innovations occur — as they always do — but the technology train is barreling forward and the pace will only quicken as computing power increases and the Internet of things spreads.

Technology has spread through agriculture as well, most notably in the form of precision agriculture practices. For big-acre row crops, precision ag is much like the iPhone — just a normal part of daily farming. Variable rate applications, auto-steer, field mapping, and yield monitoring have become standard operating procedure for many of the commodity crop growers.

Catching on Quickly

While specialty crop growers have generally lagged behind in the adoption of precision agriculture practices, the segment is catching up fast. In the past few years, Florida growers have been adding various facets of the technology to their operations. Auto-steer is common and grid mapping is catching on, allowing more variable rate applications to be applied.

“Precision ag is kind of nebulous term that doesn’t really describe the industry that well anymore,” says Robert Saik, Founder of the Agri-Trend Group (now part of Trimble Navigation) and an agricultural futurist who tracks farm technology. “There is so much wrapped up in that term now and it can mean so many different things to different people.”

Growers also are getting a grasp of how this concept of “big data” can be used to improve the productivity and sustainability of farms.

“The biggest decision a farmer will have to make in the next three years or sooner is the data platform he or she chooses to run their operation,” Saik says.

Regardless what platforms growers choose, Saik says agriculture is embarking on exciting times as growers learn to harness the power of data being collected by fertility grid sampling, sensors, and imagery captured from unmanned aerial systems (UAS, aka drones), planes, or satellites.

“First, we need a system to capture all the data, then we need a way to make sense of it all,” Saik says. “That is where algorithms come in to assimilate all the information. That’s what many of the technology companies are focusing on now. He who has the best algorithm will win.”

He adds algorithms will be able to analyze factors like weather, soil moisture, plant growth stage, and fertility as crops develop. Also, as data is collected over time, it will allow “machine learning,” meaning a computer platform will recognize problems developing that it has observed before.

“The future vision of these systems surround anomaly detection,” Saik says. “I don’t need to be told everything is good. I need to be told where problems exist. There is far too much information for a human to possibly deal with. That is where algorithms and machine learning will come in.”

Saik says the technological revolution approaching agriculture is being driven by computing power.

“Computers are pulling us along,” he says. “By 2023 or sooner, a $1,000 laptop will be have the computing power of 10 to the 16th power. That is the same computing speed as the human brain.”

Saik says these capabilities will unlock the ability to “variable rate everything” based on a crop’s needs throughout its development. Variable rate planting, fertilizer, weed control, fungicides, and irrigation will become common. Robotics will follow to address concerns in the labor area.

Read the full story on GrowingProduce.com.

Leave a Reply

Specialty Crops Stories
DronesDrones Play Critical Role in Ohio Agricultural Research
November 17, 2017
The Springfield Beckley-Municipal Airport now has a new hangar for unmanned aircraft and precision agriculture, writes Allyson Brown on GovTech.com. Read More
Field
Data ManagementThe Climate Corp., Deveron Form Drone Analytics Partnership
November 16, 2017
The Climate Corp., a subsidiary of Monsanto Co., has announced a partnership with Deveron UAS Corp., that will deliver farmers Read More
Data ManagementAgGateway Grain Transfer Proof of Concept Shows Promise
November 10, 2017
We talk about closed-loop systems quite a bit in modern production agriculture. Having a closed-loop, or completely self-contained, system is Read More
Data ManagementDJI Announces FlightHub Drone Operations Management Platform, Other New Developments
November 7, 2017
DJI showcased new hardware and software advancements that make it easier for businesses across multiple industries to incorporate drones into Read More
Trending Articles
Blue River Tech See and Spray prototype in CA
Business ManagementIs the Agtech Startup Boom Over?
November 13, 2017
In the past few months there has been a flurry of acquisitions of agtech startups by major players in the Read More
Spray Drift
Business ManagementProtecting Your Business with Ag Data: What Dicamba Can Teach Us (Guest Column)
November 9, 2017
All over the country, in ag communities large and small, farmers are reporting crop damage, neighbors are fighting, lawsuits and Read More
Kokoda-Trek2
Australia/New ZealandPrecision Agriculture in Papua New Guinea
November 2, 2017
I recently spent two weeks in the Central Highlands area of Papua New Guinea (PNG) on the Kokoda Track. The Read More
Robotic-Field-Scanner
Specialty CropsOpinion: Agriculture’s Big Data is Coming to You
October 20, 2017
If you think your world is changing at a dizzying pace, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. That’s my takeaway from Read More
Brazil-Soybean-field
AmericasIPNI Brazil: Precision Agriculture to Improve Nutrient Use Efficiency
October 16, 2017
As I mentioned in my last article, the IPNI Brazil Symposium on Precision Agriculture was held in early October in Read More
Decision Support SoftwareFarmers Edge, Service Provider Talk High-Frequency Imagery Deal
October 11, 2017
As the domestic ag tech market continues to mature and develop as we barrel into 2018, another intriguing partnership has Read More
Latest News
DronesDrones Play Critical Role in Ohio Agricultural Research
November 17, 2017
The Springfield Beckley-Municipal Airport now has a new hangar for unmanned aircraft and precision agriculture, writes Allyson Brown on GovTech.com. Read More
Iowa-Farmer China
AsiaIowa Farm a Model for Modernizing China Agriculture
November 16, 2017
The buddy seat on Rick Kimberley’s combine-harvester is a fine vantage point from which to observe precision farming. The combine’s Read More
Field
Data ManagementThe Climate Corp., Deveron Form Drone Analytics Partner…
November 16, 2017
The Climate Corp., a subsidiary of Monsanto Co., has announced a partnership with Deveron UAS Corp., that will deliver farmers Read More
aggateway
Service ProvidersAgGateway Recognizes Leaders at 2017 Annual Conference
November 16, 2017
At its annual conference last week, AgGateway honored individuals and companies that are advancing electronic connectivity efforts in agriculture and Read More
corn field
UncategorizedTopcon Agriculture Prepares to Release Horizon 4.02
November 15, 2017
Topcon Agriculture has announced the addition of new functions including Auto Turn and Steer to Boundary applications in its upcoming Read More
Used Combine
Service ProvidersFinding New Precision Ag Opportunities in Older Equipme…
November 15, 2017
Whether to buy new or used equipment has been and continues to be an important topic for growers. When it Read More
John-Deere-Air-Carts
Systems ManagementJohn Deere 1910 Air Carts Can Now Be Retrofitted with S…
November 14, 2017
Intelligent Agricultural Solutions, LLC (Intelligent Ag), a leader in electronics innovations for modern farming, has released Engage Zone Control, the Read More
Climate FieldView Script Creator
EuropeThe Climate Corp. Expands Global Digital Agriculture Pl…
November 14, 2017
The Climate Corp., a subsidiary of Monsanto Co., has announced at Agritechnica, the world’s leading trade fair for agricultural machinery, Read More
Soybean-Field-Photo-Barbara-Eckstein
Data ManagementWeather Forecasting: How Does It Work, and How Reliable…
November 14, 2017
Do you ever wonder exactly how the weather forecast is made? And how good are they, really? In last month’s Read More
Topcon_TAP
Decision Support SoftwareTopcon Agriculture Introduces New Connected Agricultura…
November 13, 2017
Topcon Agriculture has introduced TAP, the Topcon Agriculture Platform, a cloud-based agricultural ecosystem designed to provide real-time monitoring and data Read More
Topcon A6
Systems ManagementTopcon Agriculture Adds ISOBUS Communication to Opus Co…
November 13, 2017
Topcon Agriculture has added industry-leading ISOBUS universal terminal and task controller functionality to the Opus A6 and A8 consoles. The Read More
Blue River Tech See and Spray prototype in CA
Business ManagementIs the Agtech Startup Boom Over?
November 13, 2017
In the past few months there has been a flurry of acquisitions of agtech startups by major players in the Read More
Data ManagementAgGateway Grain Transfer Proof of Concept Shows Promise
November 10, 2017
We talk about closed-loop systems quite a bit in modern production agriculture. Having a closed-loop, or completely self-contained, system is Read More
Spray Drift
Business ManagementProtecting Your Business with Ag Data: What Dicamba Can…
November 9, 2017
All over the country, in ag communities large and small, farmers are reporting crop damage, neighbors are fighting, lawsuits and Read More
Farmers Business Network, FBN Procurement
Industry NewsFarmers Business Network Details Updated FBN Direct Sho…
November 8, 2017
Farmer’s Business Network, Inc. is modernizing the way farmers shop with a new e-commerce platform designed and engineered exclusively for Read More
Excellence AwardsNominations Open For 2018 PrecisionAg Awards Of Excelle…
November 8, 2017
The PrecisionAg Award of Excellence program sheds light on some of the most important people and programs that have helped agriculture realize the full benefits of technology to improve agronomy, efficiency, and stewardship in crop production. Read More
Data ManagementDJI Announces FlightHub Drone Operations Management Pla…
November 7, 2017
DJI showcased new hardware and software advancements that make it easier for businesses across multiple industries to incorporate drones into Read More
Deere-Combine
Data ManagementTech’s Perspective: Closeout to #Harvest2017
November 7, 2017
As the harvest season comes to a close, a quick look at Twitter gives us some insights into how things Read More