Agriculture is an ancient industry. But like phones and cars, it has also become “smart” and now incorporates advanced technology to make farming more efficient.
Here’s what you need to know about smart farming and its contribution to agriculture.
What is smart farming?
Smart farming is the use of modern technology to manage the farm and increase the quantity and quality of agricultural products. It includes utilising GPS, soil scanning, data management and the Internet of Things (IoT).
Smart farming systems enable farmers to make better decisions, and provide precise data for more efficient operations and management, cutting down the need for resources and painstaking labour.
Smart farming includes the usage of farm management software to monitor, manage and optimise production and operations. It records and stores data of crops and livestock, monitors and analyses all farm activities, and streamlines the schedules for farm work, including harvest and production. It tracks daily operations and the progress of field workers. Some companies even develop farm management software with sales monitoring and accounting functions.
A farm management software helps farmers improve the farm’s profit and production rates, and provides access to analytics on specific crops, environmental conditions and profitability. They can also be tailored to fit the needs of different types of farms.
Irrigation control devices operate automatic watering systems, like sprinklers and drip irrigation systems. Even without a human operator, these systems ensure that crops are able to maintain ideal moisture levels. Advanced irrigation systems have weather and temperature sensors that allow them to schedule the watering according to the weather. They also provide status reports about soil moisture and how the current weather condition affects crops.
Nowadays, farmers also have access to machinery that automate farm tasks. For one, there is now a machine that automatically moves over crops, and pulls out weeds and unwanted seeds from the surrounding soil. The automatic farm weeder could replace herbicides and reduce labour costs.
Modern farmers also use combine harvesters on grain crops. Traditional grain harvesting involves a series of complicated and laborious operations. First, farmers need to cut the stalks with scythes. Then comes threshing, where the grain is separated from the chaff by beating the cut-off stalks. Afterwards, they must clean the grains to make them suitable for milling. A combine harvester does all these jobs on its own and the farmer only has to drive it through the field.
Aside from grains, there are also harvesting machines for fruits and vegetables, including lettuce, potatoes, carrots, olives, and fruit trees. Dairy farms have automatic milking machines built into the barn, too.
The Global Positioning System (GPS) offers a lot of help for the smart farmer. It can be used for soil sampling, field mapping, and identification of water logged locations. Especially in vast farmlands, GPS can be installed in farm quads, tractors and any farm machinery, to pinpoint the exact location of equipment at any given time.
Farms are commonly associated with manually planted crops, rickety barns and a certain detachment from modern technology, but this is far from the truth. Agriculture makes use of technological advancements despite being an ancient industry. Now, farmers can maximise their yield and in a way, reap more than what they sowed when they invested in smart farming.