You may already be using some precision agriculture techniques, you may not. You may already have a fully operational precision agriculture system in place. It may be working great for you, then again it may not. Managing a farm is completely different from one farm to the next, each has its own unique challenges, and each has its own strengths.
Identifying your own precision agriculture system is crucial to farm output, smart investment and quality of life. Here we look at some things that you should consider before deciding on which precision agriculture system to implement across your farm.
What Do We Mean by Precision Agriculture System?
A precision agriculture system can be anything that improves the manner in which you’re farming. Typically, it means the implementation of technology to enhance yields and profitability. It comes in all shapes and sizes and can be something as simple as monitoring soil nutrients and recording the data to installing a fully-fledged fertigation system.
So, Which System Should You Choose?
The best way to decide which precision agriculture system to use is first to understand your farm as it currently is. Look over your yields and your real incomes (not projected) and see how your farm is performing on its own. You can use databanks to tap into other farms in the local area and see how your farm is doing in comparison.
Look for a like farm that is producing the same crops and has around the same acreage. Look at their yield results and if they’re doing better than you, look at what practices they are employing to obtain the higher returns.
Be wary when comparing statistics as it will not reflect the cost involved to obtain the yields, it is a matter of looking at what is achievable and then working out a solution to make that happen.
Smart and Simple Wins the Day
You will probably be surprised to find that farmers that are out performing you are not necessarily working harder or doing anything miraculous. Oftentimes, it will be a matter of going back to basics, installing irrigation systems, using drones to monitor crops better and working in unison with the fields as they evolve rather than constantly battling against any hindrances that pop up.
Knowing your fields enables you to realise where shortfalls are. If you struggle to identify the shortfalls yourself, there are many affordable farm consultancy firms that will come out and provide tailor made advice and recommendations.
Record Data: Always
Perhaps the biggest difference between ordinary farming and precision farming is the fact that precision farmers constantly record data, some are fastidious with it, noting even the smallest of intricacies.
Recording and storing data allows you to monitor your farm in real time, informs you of everything that is happening and allows you to make smarter decisions about your next investment.
Another key consideration is that when you implement precision farm practices you are likely to be doing so for purposes of growth. This should be a deciding factor about any investment you’re planning to make. For example, you may want to buy the latest GPS tractor, but, when the farm grows the tractor may not be the ideal investment as it will not be able to cope with anticipated workloads.
Having a better understanding of your farm and realising its full potential will allow you to make investments where needed and keep you one step ahead of the competition.
Some precision farmers fail at the first hurdle, they think that simply by purchasing the latest gadgetry that they are going to improve their farms output. This is rarely the case and is often costly. Technology is rapidly changing and is a fantastic addition to your farm, but the crucial factor here is to ensure that the tech you’re buying will have a really positive long-term effect.
Remember state of the art tech today is going to be obsolete in as short a time frame as a few years. Calculate how much money that bit of tech will generate you over that time frame, then weigh it up with the cost of purchasing. If you make a significant profit margin then it is a no brainer, but if the figures are fairly close there is likely to be a bit of better tech out there that can be more beneficial.
When you have decided which aspects of your farm you can improve on, look around at what kind of support is in those key areas. Perhaps you are going to record all of your data concisely onto a cloud system. See if there is a collective sharing cloud system that allows you to look at other farmer’s data.
Something as simple as having more information readily available in your chosen precision agriculture field can make a staggering difference in profit margins.