Precision Agriculture Future is Here

Kurt Lawton

Precision farming has come a long way since the military allowed civilian access to the NAVSTAR GPS constellation in 1995. We’ve gone from initial accuracies of tens of meters down to a couple centimeters. And now we’ve got receivers handling multiple satellite constellations, referred to as GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System).

Topcon Precision Agriculture’s senior VP Albert Zahalka gave a talk recently about how the future of precision ag is here today, and the journey is just beginning. Some of the key points he made:

  • Receivers with GNSS technology will have fewer lost signals.
  • Today’s precision ag is about three key elements: saving time, reducing costs, and environmental stewardship.
  • Future: Massive user interface improvements will make operation simple without the need for a manual.
  • Future: Expanded telematics will allow users to remotely monitor critical operating conditions and status of machines whether in a field 5 minutes away or across the globe. You’ll be able to manage your farm from inside your home.
  • Future: Autonomous machine operation, already at work in the mining industry, will come to agriculture. Coming safety measures will allow for autonomous driverless machines to work in fields.

In the future, farmers will be increasingly reliant on accurate, dependable statistical information, which will then feed into integrated precision agriculture systems to deliver outstanding productivity and crop yields.

In the not-too-distant future, we’ll have a farmer sitting in his farmhouse, looking at his computer and saying to his wife, “Marge, we are going to do the planting today.”

Then he will press the “planting” button and his tractor (or tractors) will come out of the shed, head off to the fields and begin planting the right seed in the right location, in the right quantities for optimum growth, all with minimal human intervention.

And if there’s a problem or a machine breakdown, the farmer will be instantly alerted.

And as those crops grow and mature, we’ll have sprayers and watering equipment driving along in the farm field. It will see that one plant is not as green or thriving as well as the next, so it will apply a shot of water or nutrient as required.

That vision is still a little way into the future – but it is clearly the direction precision agriculture technology is going.

Read the entire speech.

Education, GPS, Guidance, Planting, Remote sensing, Satellite, sustainability