Agriculture, Environment, Sustainability

What is precision agriculture?

In this post I will talk about precision agriculture and your usefulness to reduce environmental impact caused by farming activity.

Agriculture process and environment impact

The agriculture principle didn`t change in the last 10,000 years, the land is plowed, then come the seeding, irrigation, put fertilizers and at last the harvest, after the harvest, the cycle continue. With the mechanization of agriculture and the increased demand, the production increased but the environmental impact worsened. The increase of fresh water to irrigation is depleting the aquifers, 60% of fresh water in the world is for agriculture. Higher phosphorus demand as fertilizer increase the phosphate mining. This is a phosphate rock.

A phosphate mine.

And the increased soil erosion make the land infertile.

Other environmental problems include the use of pesticide and loss of biodiversity.

Precision agriculture

The precision agriculture seek to increase food production, using less resources with a lower cost. This type of agriculture use information technology and satellites to collect data and analyze the soil. This is the cycle of precision agriculture.

In the data collection, it is used GPS, digital maps, air photos with drones and multispectral sensors to obtain soil information like fertility, plague infestation, soil variation, weed and soil yield. The collected information are saved in Geographic Information System (GIS) in a computer which provide maps, models, graphics and reports. Here is the vegetative vigor map of a vineyard.

Measuring soil conductivity with geoelectric sensors.

With the application map, the machines irrigate only the right area reducing the fresh water consumption. Fertilizers and pesticides are used only in needed areas reducing the consumption and environmental impact. The plough is only used where is necessary, decreasing erosion and extending the soil fertility time. In a next future, robots will make part of precision agriculture as shown in a news I published, click here to see the robots.



About Pedro Ney Stroski

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