Gone are the days when farmers had to guess the best time to plant by looking up a forecast in the Farmer’s Almanac or going by your gut feeling. Next-generation farms are putting science and technology in the forefront, delivering a step in the right direction, growing more from less. Here are some of the most exciting developments to watch out for.
Okay, not technically a technology but definitely something that is taking farming forward. The power of advanced mathematics is boosting farm productivity made accessible by the processing capabilities in the latest generation of computing hardware and software. For example, farmers can now know the best time to plant their crops by looking at historical data and using simulators to model possible farming conditions, helping them to make informed choices based on current conditions, rather than guesswork.
Plant breeders also take advantage of advanced mathematics to identify crop varieties with higher yields and other desirable traits. Maths can help with almost everything around the farm, from scheduling your harvest to loading trucks in a way that ensures fresh crops make it to the market. In other words, the mathematics revolution brings to the entire agricultural supply chain the power to make informed decisions about using natural resources wisely.
Real time and quality sensory tech
Maths can only deliver these benefits if the simulation models are fed high-quality data. This can only be done with advanced sensor technologies that enable a real-time understanding of what’s happening around the farm. The latest equipment takes advantage of networks of smart sensors that monitor the health of the soil along with a plant’s water and nitrogen needs. Knowing precisely how much water is needed helps optimize irrigation, conserve scarce resources and maximize yields. Getting the amount of nitrogen and water right is absolutely essential to preserving the environment.
For livestock, collars equipped with RFID, biometric sensors and GPS combine to allow real-time monitoring of the location and health of farm animals, ensuring that ranchers and farmers will be able to respond quickly to any potential problem.
Automation works hand-in-hand with the advanced mathematics and high-resolution sensing to ensure that all the data inputting processes are performed with absolute precision. Agricultural robots, or agbots, are automating the tedious tasks. Combine hundreds of these energy-efficient agbots and you end up with robotic farm swarms, which work in a network to monitor conditions and harvest crops without the need for human intervention, which means fewer farm injuries and less environmental waste. Such projects are currently in testing stages.
Watch more upcoming agricultural technology, from a weed killing laser, to farms run completely by robots:
iSOYLscout is an easy-to-use, in-field scouting app. Simply record areas or points of interest either by hand, or while on the move on foot or in a vehicle using the built-in GPS. The app can be used to record crop performance and weed infestations as well as any other feature you want to locate across the farm. Each logged feature provides an instant area measurement. Points of interest are recorded with a text label such as ‘Broad Weed’. Notes and/or a photo can also be added to the point. iSOYLscout files are uploaded to mySOYL, OneDrive, or Dropbox allowing your scouted data to be wirelessly and efficiently transferred between field and office.
This app from John Deere helps you manage your grain harvesting fleet from your field to your preferred elevators. Know where your team members are, where the nearest elevators are, and get information about wait times at those elevators. The apps allows you to create a team to let your workers know where the combine, carts, and trucks are; find and view your favorite grain elevators, including contact information and directions; view estimates of grain elevator wait times; and securely create and share your own on-farm storage locations with your team.
FARMapper is a new generation Web-based app that allows users to build farm maps quickly and efficiently. The app securely stores your map in the cloud so that it can be shared across both desktop and mobile devices. Using your Web browser, you can access your farm project from any device. Click on any point and the application parses public land survey data for the Township, Range, Section, and quarter section. It creates detail for any point that is clicked upon, and will highlight the parcel. Build custom polygons easily with the app’s drawing tools. The app also helps farmers keep track of water rights, easements and irrigation records