Modern Crop Management Tips Part 1
Hyperspectral Imaging and Precision Agriculture
With the recent global pandemic, the novel Coronavirus, COVID-19 has forced many sectors to shift operations in light of the new rules for social distancing. The agricultural sector has also been impacted and farmers are forced to pivot, and pivot quickly. The US Agricultural Sector was named a critical industry for Food Security by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) amid the coronavirus outbreak. The DHS announcement allows those in the food and agriculture supply chain to continue operations in order to meet the demand across the nation. The DHS declaration covers farmers, food processors and producers, distributors and retailers. Issues around farm workers have always been a challenge in light of US-Mexico tensions with immigration matters, all of which do not bode well for the entire food-based agricultural supply chain. In short, crop farmers aren’t excluded from the COVID-19 nightmare!
The challenge for crop farm owners or managers is in achieving precision in governance. Mitigating risks and increasing yields has always been part of the equation, and now more so within the current COVID-19 context. Simplifying and more importantly removing any assumptions and ambiguity will accelerate precision in decision making. An efficient and cost-effective approach for farm-management data gathering is through remote sensing, specifically Hyperspectral Imaging to develop precise, crop-specific prescriptions. The traditional farmer may balk at a dominant, data-driven approach to farm management, but the truth is crop production in agriculture has relied heavily on the development and implementation of various technologies combined seamlessly with field-production knowledge passed down from one generation to another. What must and can happen today is the cognitive shift for farmers to break away from traditional thinking and to embrace the “Fourth Revolution” in agriculture and understand the value of data-driven, precision agriculture because of its enormous economic benefits and potential.
What Is Precision Agriculture?
Dr. Prasad Thenkabail, author of Advanced Applications in Remote Sensing of Agricultural Crops and Natural Vegetation, talks about how a complete precision agriculture system can be described in terms of four indispensable parts: (a) field variability sensing and information extraction, (b) decision making, (c) precision field control, and (d) operation and result assessment. The success of any precision agriculture system depends on the optimal implementation of these four parts. Like most applications, while acquiring the data is only one aspect of crop management, the key here lies in extracting the appropriate, actionable information, and having the knowledge and training required to in apply this information to making the right farm management decisions. Traditions don’t have to die but with precise data and actionable information, the number of possible errors can be reduced and decisions aimed making to risk mitigation, such as pest control, for instance, can be accelerated. COVID-19 has, in fact, shifted the world paradigm to wider acceptance of working remotely. Remote sensing and precision agriculture are playing key roles in the modern agricultural revolution supporting the notion of remote management of farms – bringing the additional dimension of personal safety for farm operators and workers as well.
The purpose of precision agriculture is based on economic, productivity, and environmental considerations, namely:
- Greater yields with more targeted inputs
- Cost savings with reduced inputs and labor
- Reduced environmental impact and sustainable farming practices
- Personal safety (in the current COVID-19 context)
The challenge we face now is to review data-adoption patterns with farmers specific to each individual crop type and growing context. Farmers who have already adopted precision agriculture into their best practices, know that it is important to be proactive rather than reactive in maintaining direct control of several fundamental aspects simultaneously, such as the health of crops, the targeted use of irrigation or fertilizer, and early-warning of pest infestation and infections that can develop in the field. Why would anyone say no to this? Perhaps, as with the introduction of any new technology, a considerable amount of confusion exists regarding the solution that will provide the best return on investment. A “chicken and egg” situation has developed whereby given the many, competing solutions that have been proposed, it is difficult to sort out the best approach that is most appropriate to each individual context. Adoption will start with two key factors, a frame of reference that leans towards pivoting to technology-based crop management and finding the right partner to provide the data. SaraniaSat has been a partner for many applications and offers a very customized approach for each farm. The company has a team of data analysts who can process the information and provide it in real time to farm owners.
Part 2 of this blog will discuss in more detail what Hyperspectral imaging and how this is applied to precision agriculture. Dr. Tom George, CEO of SaraniaSat, has been instrumental in promoting the use of hyperspectral technology and its’ application in farm management for robust, cost-effective decision making. Saraniasat is an award winning business providing data and information products aimed at increasing profits for farmers both by input cost savings and increasing ultimate harvest yield. SaraniaSat will work in partnership with farm owners or corporations in providing actionable information based on the needs of the farm. For more information contact our team of experts HERE