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The Adoption of Precision Agriculture Technologies

Enterprise Technology Review | Wednesday, May 29, 2019

FREMONT, CA – The emerging technologies have brought to light the impact of intensive farming on biodiversity. In the world today, almost 70 percent of freshwater is used for agricultural purposes. Also, the pesticides and fertilizers used to control diseases and maximize yield affects the crop quality as well as the food chain. To minimize the detrimental practices employed in agriculture, several countries have passed regulations to control water and chemical usage.

The innovations driven by the need for sustainable practices have given rise to precision agriculture (PA), a new method that utilizes the internet of things (IoT), machine learning (ML), machine vision, and artificial intelligence (AI). Over a couple of years, manufacturers have started building equipment powered by some form of PA components. 

A greenhouse is a form of intensive farming in practice for the last few years. Although useful to some extent, it is not without problems. Greenhouse contraction is highly expensive, requiring high maintenance and climate regulation. Besides, greenhouse crops sustain diseases related to ground quality, humidity, and ventilation. The farmers keep track of crop health and take the necessary steps needed for prevention and cure. Several greenhouse growers have turned to PA, which has helped them in cutting down water and fertilizer usage by almost 30 percent.

When adopting a solution, a farmer needs to consider the level of interaction and connection with the solution provider. Most PA solutions come as a complete package, but conducting a pilot test will ensure proper adjustments needed for maximum efficiency.

Nevertheless, many obstacles hinder the implementation of PA. The data gathered from the sensor and image analysis needs to be precise. In irrigation, a controlled amount of water is supplied to the crop at intervals. However, water usage needs to be precisely measured to avoid wastage. The use of electronic sensors in the greenhouse and open farming can facilitate image analysis, which can enable seamless automation of agriculture processes.

A recent review of studies published from 1988 to 2005 indicated a rise in profit when PA was employed. Although most of the studies were based on theoretical models and pilot tests, it has fired up the optimism for PA solution providers to develop innovative equipment and offer alternatives to sustainable agricultural practices.