How data and drones are helping farmers take care of their crops.
APRIL 14, 2016
Mapping tools, data-collecting drones, and sensors are just a few pieces of technology playing integral roles in farm tech, or what farming industry leaders refer to as precision agriculture. Allowing for improvements to be made in taking care of crops, this niche technology is proving to be good for profits and the environment.
Farmers Edge provides farmers with a device that automates the reporting of real-time costs, equipment data, and work information. The company’s portal CanPlug device transmits information from agricultural equipment to the cloud. The technology comes with a cellular data plan, fully prepared and activated. Once connected to the port on the equipment, CanPlug begins its communication process with the equipment and the cloud-based servers. Regular wireless updates to the operating system inform equipment managers about bug fixes, upgrades, and other necessary customization.
“When we have customers come on board we invest heavily in the digitization of their farm.”
says Marina Barnes, VP of Marketing at Farmers Edge.
“All customers get weather stations, access to satellite imagery, soil sample results, CanPlugs for telematics and fleet management, and access to the farm management platform, FarmCommand. This creates integrated proprietary data sets based on your farm, which is then combined with the data across our network.”
How is the digitization of farms aiding farmers?
Farmers Edge customer, Trevor Scherman, a farmer from Saskatchewan, Canada, knew that he needed to reseed his Canola by looking at weather data through the FarmCommand platform.
“I knew the closest weather station, 25 miles away, did not have as cool of nights and therefore did not represent what I was seeing in the field,” shares Scherman. “With that weather data I was able to give the crop insurance inspector much more reliable insights as to why we were seeing such damage in my fields versus fields in other areas. This field-centric data from FarmCommand gave me comfort in going ahead with my decision to reseed.”
Can aerial views predict the future of farm crops?
They can certainly assist farmers in making sure crops have a future.
From the fields to the friendly skies, farm tech is spreading its wings via drones. The unmanned aerial vehicles ofAgEagle Systems, for example, are equipped with near infrared sensors that survey crop fields, checking their health and stress levels.
The regulatory ceiling in the United States for unmanned aircrafts, which is a few meters to 120 meters above the crops, gives farmers a view they wouldn’t normally have. Highly accurate images covering hundreds of acres can be captured in a short flight. And, this tactic is less expensive than trying to get satellite imagery or taking photos from a manned vehicle.
At the end of the day, drones can detect things the naked eye can’t like pests, disease, weeds, and fertility. If farmers play their cards right, they can use this information to cut costs and save time and resources—a couple of key reasons technology was invented.
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