Precision agriculture is a crop and livestock production management system that uses a global positioning system (GPS) to monitor equipment field position to collect information and apply inputs as required at each location. Precision agriculture technologies include equipment guidance and automatic steering, yield monitoring, variable rate input application, remote sensing, in-field electronic sensors, section and row control on planters, sprayers and fertilizer applicators, and spatial data management systems. Click on "Computer Controllers" to compare features of each unit.
Use this table to compare features of in-cab monitors for agricultural tractors and equipment.
Variable Rate Technology
Variable rate fertilizer application allows crop producers to apply different rates of fertilizer at each location across fields. The technology needed to accomplish variable rate fertilization includes an in-cab computer and software with a field zone application map, fertilizer equipment capable of changing rates during operation and the Global Positioning System (GPS).
Field Shape Affects Farming Efficiencies
Energy devlopment on farmland often results in rectangular fields divided into irregularly shaped fields. Farming irregularly shaped fields takes longer, results in more overlap, and increases the fertilizer, seed, and pesticide product used on the same number of acres.
Section and Row Control Technology
Automatic section control technology turns planter or air seeder sections or rows off in areas that have been previously planted, or on and off at headland turns, point rows, and waterways. Similar technology is used on sprayers and fertilizer applicators.
Farm GIS and Data Management
Farm GIS is used to manage geospatial field data, including field boundaries, imagery, soil information, application maps, yield data, and near-earth and remotely sensed data.
Crop fields can be divided into management zones to allow producers to use different production techniques based on the unique conditions in each area of fields. Fertilizer application maps are prepared from zone maps to indicate the amount of fertilizer needed for crop production in each zone and used for variable-rate fertilization.
Telematics Machinery Operating Information Available on Internet
Most agricultural equipment companies are developing telematics systems. Farmers now have the option to remotely collect and manage information from their field equipment by using telematics technology. "Telematics is a technology that captures data from farm equipment operating in a field and transfers the data to the internet in real tim", says John Nowatzki, North Dakota State University Extension
LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) is an optical remote sensing technology that can measure the distance to other features by illuminating the target with Light. LiDAR technology has been used in airplanes to measure features on Earth's surface, including determining a detailed elevation model. In locations where LiDAR data is available the ground surface elevation contours can be used to prepare both surface and subsurface field drainage patterns.
Optical crop sensor can be used to evaluate crop conditions during the growing season by directing light waves at crop leaves, and measuring the type and amount of light reflected back to the sensor. Green plants absorb much of the visible light wavelengths, particularly the blue and red light waves, and reflect much of the green light waves. Plants absorb much less near-infrared (NIR) light than red light. Darker green leaves reflect more NIR light and absorb more red light than lighter green leaves. These reflectance characteristics of plants are used to develop vegetative indices to compare the relative health of crops.