Special Report: Making Sense Of Sensors In Agriculture

Special Report: Making Sense Of Sensors In Agriculture

PASpecialReport-FieldMonitorsFor agriculture service providers, evolving sensor technology is viewed with a sense of endless possibilities, mixed with a bit of trepidation.  Sensors can seemingly do about anything on the farm. Measure soil characteristics with electrical current? Check. Monitor soil moisture and irrigation activity? Check. Track rainfall, wind, and other weather conditions? Check. Transmit data points 24/7 to a central database for deep analysis? Check. Report on planting, application, and harvesting efficiency? Check. Ride on a drone or a satellite and provide in-season feedback on crop and farm conditions? Check.


Become one of the farmer’s trusted advisers? Uh, not so fast. Sensor capabilities are robust and growing, but not likely to replace “boots on the ground,” at least for the foreseeable future. The better bet is that sensors will allow agronomists and consultants to help farmers make better decisions, and invite contributions from equipment and seed dealers who provide vital advice and services to the farmer.

From UAVs and satellites to weather, irrigation, and field equpiment, sensors are providing data and feedback that is helping technology service providers add accuracy and value to agronomic plans, while also improving operational efficiency. The “Field Monitoring And Sensors” Special Report from PrecisionAg Professional focuses on current and emerging technology and how service providers are deploying it. Topics include:

  • Inside Ground-Based Systems
  • Trends In Aerial Imagery and Remote Sensing

Download the full report here.

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Ian Isen says:

Good article. You rightly underline the indispensable role of the human advisor as ultimate prescriber (I’m not one of them), a key point many tend to misunderstand today. I’d appreciate your view on the operability of ground-based vs aerial sensors. My experience tells me that large farms will struggle operating multiple sensors dispersed in the field and exposed to nature, mechanical equipment, animal and human contact. Besides installation and calibration, due to such uncontrolled contact, much of the maintenance consists in keeping the sensors communicating with each other or with a central unit. Aerial sensors (I believe drones will make for most) on the other hand seem immune to all the above. An interesting analysis may look at a matrix that optimizes the right dose of ground and aerial sensors based on three farm sizes (i.e. 160). Thank you.