What planet are we going to leave for the next generations unless we change our approaches to crop farming? Extensive agriculture has already proven itself neither cost-effective nor sustainable. Nor is it effective for handling the looming global food crisis.
Moreover, “traditional” farming approaches with their devastating impact on the environment fail farmers forcing them to implement innovations. Cooperating with scientists, growers search for the new forms of economically, environmentally, and socially effective agriculture. The adoption of precision ag techniques tackles many financial ecological challenges.
More Crops, Less Harm to Nature
Modern agriculture has to balance between profitability and sustainability. Not to forget the coming global food crisis. According to the United Nations, the world population is expected to reach 9.8 billion people by 2050. The demand for crops will grow respectively. Can it be met unless farmers change their farming approaches today to preserve natural systems and resources? Hardly. Fertile lands aren’t inexhaustible. Statistics speak for itself: as the Environmental Defense Fund states, about 40% of the world’s land is used for food production. So, it is not about the area of the fields but about the way we treat them.
Sustainable agriculture encourages us to think outside the box. Technologies are already offering powerful tools to help growers optimize farming. GPS-based ones are the most popular because they unlock numerous opportunities. Unfortunately, many of them, like analysis of vegetation indices, are still being missed out. Only 35%-40% of U.S. growers have implemented several technological tools on their farms, according to the precision ag platform EOS Crop Monitoring estimates.
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Leveling up to satellite monitoring, growers can take advantage of the rational distribution of nutrients depending on the cultivars and soil productivity. Using processed satellite imagery of their fields, growers can make data-driven decisions and thus cut down on expenses. Applying precisely the needed amount of fertilizers they avoid over-enrichment that causes soil degradation.
Satellites to Take Care of Crops — and Nature
Are satellite images worth their salt in ag? As the analysis by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development shows, consumers from different parts of the globe prioritize healthy and convenient food. And this is exactly what satellite imagery helps farmers provide as it helps to use chemicals rationally and sustainably.
Implementing precision ag tools, growers can expect a boost of yield production. These technologies allow them to analyze the quality of applied interventions and define which of them work more efficiently. Rational use of water and fertilizers as well as timely reacting to problems also contributes to the health of the ecosystems.
Growers opt to use this technology to enjoy operational and environmental benefits, such as:
- Making informed decisions about sowing on the areas vulnerable to yield losses and quickly reacting to emerging problems;
- Being aware of coming unfavorable weather conditions and timely reacting to the changes;
- Controlling crop rotation based on updating data on growing crops and yields;
- Evaluating and revealing the areas with considerable crop losses and potential crop gains;
- Practicing intercropping or multi-year crop rotation that allows farms to produce more yield and positively affect soil fertility; and
- Testing different cultivars as satellite imagery shows distinct variations in vegetation, allowing to choose the most productive variation.
“Sustainable” doesn’t necessarily mean “expensive”. Satellite monitoring is not merely an innovative but also cost-effective means of sustainable ag. According to the study published in Agronomy, “corn farm operating profit of precision agriculture adopters was 163 dollars per hectare higher than for non-adopters.”
From an economic perspective, precision ag implementation enables growers to reduce large outlay. In fact, they can mitigate recurrent costs on vehicle maintenance used for transportation to different parts of arable land. On the environmental side of the issue, less vehicle use results in diminishing carbon dioxide emissions.
Moreover, this technology is useful in budgeting. Having necessary data about field condition, growers can plan their expenditures more precisely. Saving on logistics and applying fertilizers with Variable Rate technology is already an important contribution to the health of the planet.
Last but not least, crop monitoring carried out via satellites needs less human resources and is exceptionally efficient for tracking vast areas. Fewer field trips are needed, which means less gas is spent, fewer exhaust fumes will be in the air. On top of that, they take action after analyzing the obtained satellite images and can focus their potential on the solution of the existing issues. Satellite data also prevents growers from overlooking crucial points in certain zones.
Precision Ag As a Cooperation Tool
Precision ag also enhances the importance of networking for farmers. As Global Market Insights states, “the North America precision farming market is expected to hold a market share of over 32% by 2025 owing to mechanization and heavy dependence on technology for aiding agribusinesses.” As such, uniting into data-sharing communities, growers acquire numerous benefits from discovering new techniques to boosting income.
Moreover, growers network effectively and conveniently when integrating precision ag technologies. Based on data retrieved from Meticulous Research, “the agriculture IoT market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 14.1% from 2019 to reach $34.9 billion by 2027.” Thereby, cooperation becomes even more significant than before, enabling farmers to communicate and stay tuned about up-to-date components, applications, and services.
Farmers can discuss recent information and experience valuable for gaining profit and protecting nature or even monitor the fields together (for instance, with group accounts in EOS Crop Monitoring). Sharing analysis and prognosis with each other enables them to improve their operations and approaches as well as learn more about other practices.
Eventually, the collaboration among data-driven farms emerges as an apparent step toward efficiency and sustainability. High yield production and conscious use of natural resources make satellite monitoring an easy choice for growers that want to care about the environment without financial losses.