Victoria, Australia — Long gone are the days of farmers being out in the field tending to their crops and manually completing all their daily tasks and working dusk ‘til dawn. Over the past few decades, technology has become part of farming, and ag technology continues to advance. Precision ag technology has revolutionized the way that farming works, allowing farmers to improve productivity, reduce waste, and increase the yield of crops. As the owner of Ag Tech and Machine, a leading independent provider of ag tech products and services, I have seen the impact that new ag technologies have had on farms and the monumental leaps forward that have been made in recent years. In this post, I’ll tell you about some of the ag tech products we regularly work with and how they have revolutionized farming for good.
What Is Precision AG Technology?
Precision ag is all about using new technologies to collect and analyze data from the farm and using this data to make decisions to improve sustainability and yield while reducing inputs required. These types of ag technologies allow farmers to collect highly accurate data and have control over all elements of farming. For example, precision ag technology allows farmers to control exactly what goes onto their crop, in what volumes, and in which areas it is most needed.
What are the benefits of precision ag technology?
The benefits of precision ag are extensive. The use of ag technologies allows farmers to increase crop yield, reduce input costs, and improve sustainability. The environmental benefits of precision ag technology are enormous. By improving yield and reducing inputs required, farmers are able to grow more food on less land. Fuel consumption can be significantly reduced, and use of spray, fertilizer, and seed can also be greatly reduced. All of this has the impact of reducing the carbon footprint of the farm and reducing the overall environmental impact of farming.
Application control encompasses technologies that allow for the precise control of inputs such as seed, fertilizer, and spray. With an application control system, data is collected from the field and used to control the exact amount of input that goes into the farm. GPS positioning is then used to control the exact amount of product that goes into the field, and exactly where it goes, with an accuracy down to 20cm. When fertilizing a crop, more fertilizer can be spread to the areas that need it, with less going to areas where less is required. Because of the precision involved, it is easy for the farmer to ensure that all areas are covered with only the exact amount of fertilizer required and no more. The overall amount of fertilizer is reduced, and farmers can expect a reduction in fertilizer consumption of 16%. The same technology is also available for seeding, planting, and spraying, allowing farmers to reduce the amount of input needed.
GPS autosteer is an amazing innovation that combines GPS technology, and self-driving and autosteering technologies. The use of GPS autosteer in agriculture allows farmers and contractors to map out the entire property, and cover each area of the property in the most efficient and effective way. In practice, this means that when the farmer is out in the field completing tasks such as seeding, spraying, or harvesting, each area is covered only once without overlap. This means that there is no overlapping area that receives more spray/fertilizer/seed than desired, and there are also no areas that are missed. This allows for the most efficient use of the land possible and increases the crop yield to its highest possible level. In addition to the obvious benefits of virtually eliminating overlap and missed patches, the use of GPS autosteer also reduces driver fatigue and reduces driver errors. Often farmers, employees or contractors will be out in a tractor in the paddock for many hours at a time, and often work overnight during busy periods, such as harvest. This can result in fatigue and an increase in errors. Previously, it was common for farmers to recall times that they had fallen asleep at the wheel in the paddock. Thankfully, GPS autosteer technology has drastically decreased the risk of this happening, making everyone safer and reducing risk.
While farmers used to rely heavily on things like newspaper weather reports, manually checking crops, and generic advice from agronomists, the software can now assist in real-time with providing accurate and individualized data for every farm. Software can help with just about every task involved in farming. Software is available for a variety of applications, for example, software can assist farmers and land-owners to map out their entire properties, and this data can be used to inform decisions about irrigation, land forming, and efficient use of the land for cropping. The software can also be used to collect and analyze data about crop health, spray and fertilizer needs, weather, and optimal times for sowing and harvest.
While the practice of land forming has been around for a long time, the use of precision ag technology to assist with land forming is much newer and has resulted in an enormous increase in the efficiency of water use and drainage. Modern land forming relies on the use of technology to accurately survey the land, then software is used to create a 3D model. From here, the most efficient land formation can be designed. The land can be shaped precisely for optimal water use, and the most efficient drainage. By designing precisely using design software, the 3D design is then created on the farm. Machine control is used in land-forming machinery to allow the exact design to be created in the paddock. This is more precise and efficient than older land-forming equipment.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. Precision ag technology is helping farmers every day to get their farm working at maximum efficiency, helping them achieve the best possible results from their crops, and see improvements year on year. With new technologies being designed every day, the use of technology in agriculture is only going to grow and continue to make further improvements in the working lives of farmers.
James Rovers is the owner and founder of Ag Tech and Machine. James created Ag Tech and Machine to combine his two fashions of farming and technology. James has been farming for his whole life and has always had a passion for working and living on the land. He currently lives and works in rural Victoria, and consults with customers Australia-wide. James can assist with all questions you may have about ag tech, and can be contacted via his website at: www.agtechandmachine.com