Agricultural productivity nowadays may seem to have reached a stationary (maximum) point due to the global availability of fertilisers and pesticides which are used to improve crop yield. However, misuse of these products and lack of awareness of the field parameters can decrease our productivity and endanger the environmental balance in the cultivation area.
The so called Precision Agriculture (PA) can be defined as: that kind of agriculture that increases the number of decisions per unit area of land per unit time with associated net benefits (McBratney et al., 2005).
Here are 5 benefits of Precision Agriculture to improve agricultural yield and reduce potential environmental risks.
1- Monitor the soil and plant physicochemical parameters: by placing sensors (electrical conductivity, nitrates, temperature, evapotranspiration, radiation, leaf and soil moisture, etc.) the optimal conditions for plant growth can be achieved.
2- Obtain data in real time: the application of sensing devices in your fields will allow a continuous monitoring of the chosen parameters and will offer real time data ensuring an updated status of the field and plant parameters at all time.
3- Automate your field management: by incorporating a Decision Support System (DSS) in your Precision Agriculture environment the best conditions for the specific soil and plant species will be automatically optimised based on the data obtained by the sensors. The DSS will suggest the best moment for watering (or whether there is need or not), the need to irrigate to wash the salt content due to an excess in the radicular area, the need to fertilise, etc.
4- Save time and costs: by introducing a PA system in the daily operation of an agricultural exploitation time is saved due to the on-line measurement methods. Data from the sensors is automatically transmitted to a central server and this can be consulted using a Smartphone or Laptop. Or even, email or SMS alerts can be programmed to notify the field owner when there is a need to irrigate, fertilise or address any issue in their properties. Moreover, costs in terms of water, pesticides and others are optimised and can easily be reduced.
5- Improve your image: By using PA technology, not only the yield and profits will be increased but also the perception of the general public and Public Administration (through Smart Agriculture and environmental care) towards your activity will be enhanced.
All in all, Precision Agriculture seems to bring many benefits to farmers and land owners who decide to use technology to manage their fields.
Project Manager Energy and Environment