What is precision agriculture and how will it help improve the performance of agricultural machinery

28 December 2020

The use of satellite positioning systems marks the beginning of precision agriculture and the third major revolution in the world agricultural sector. Although some articles have already reported spatial variability in the 1920s, precision agriculture as we know it today emerged in the 1980s in Europe and the United States. In Brazil, the first records of the technology are 10 years later.

Precision agriculture, in a very simple way, is a technology developed to help the agricultural producer, whether family or large companies, to produce more intelligently, at less expense, and better using the planted area space, thus optimising resources and inputs to increase profitability and achieve hitherto unimaginable results.

Although much more advanced and innovative technologies such as Big Data and the Internet of Things (IoT) already exist on the market, precision agriculture is still essential in world agricultural production. This is because it is the integrating interface between machines that are in fields, with data reaching increasingly intelligent management systems.

In this article, we will present in detail what precision agriculture is and how this technology can still make farms greatly improve the performance of their inputs, as well as the most used resources and their benefits in agricultural operations.

What is precision agriculture and how does it work?

Precision agriculture is the concept of agricultural management based on georeferenced information to accurately observe, measure, and control field activities. Using geo-positioning technologies such as GPS (Global Positioning System) and GNNS (Global Navigation Satellite System), it enables the operator to create accurate maps of their position and the activities carried out, collecting data such as machine yield, seedling location, and terrain characteristics, so that in the next step the operation is more efficient. This data is collected by antennas, receivers, and sensors in real-time to be used in conjunction with satellite images, so it is possible to better use the planted area space, distribute correctives, fertilisers, and agrochemicals in an optimal way.

Precision agriculture resources act at all stages of cultivation or harvesting, and may be present in tractors, machinery, or agricultural implements. Discover three of these resources that can help you below.

Three precision agriculture resources that can change your agricultural operation

If this type of technology was initially used only for grains, such as wheat and soybeans, it is now widely used in various types of crops, including irrigated rice, sugarcane, and even in the forestry sector. With easy-to-use interface solutions, precision agriculture technology is used through displays or onboard controllers, which can be purchased for installation on virtually all types of machines, even the oldest, thus allowing the agricultural fleet to be modernised without changing machinery.

Learn how precision agriculture can help improve the results achieved at the end of each harvest in practice:

1. Light Bars and Auto Steering

Used in the cultivation and harvesting operations of any crop, the light bar solution or virtual guide, is a guidance system to maintain the alignment of agricultural and forestry machines while performing their routes and activities. Through straight lines, curves, or even pivots, it is used in activities that need help in identifying application points such as soil preparation, fertilisation, application of formicide baits, correctives, and herbicides.

Auto steering solutions enable automated and even more accurate navigation for tractors, ensuring alignment and reducing overlap during planting, crop treatments activities, and also harvesting. Satellite-guided by means of an antenna installed on the tractor, this type of technology allows the route of the machine to be planned while still in the office, optimising activities and resources that are in the field. Using an auto steering solution, it is possible to increase the planted area, since it is possible to ensure a smaller spacing between the lines, considerably reducing the loss of plants caused by the irregular passage of the tractor. It also makes better use of the inputs used, from the application of seeds and inputs to the fuel consumption of the machines. The return is all that the producer seeks for their business: better performance and greater productivity and profitability.

2. Crop Treatments

Preparation of the soil is one of the most important stages of the agricultural process, it is at this time if it provides the best possible condition for the growth and development of seedlings. At this point, the soil is prepared to receive the seeds or seedlings, then correctives and fertilisers are used, as well as herbicides and agrochemicals. And precision agriculture is also present to ensure accuracy in applications and savings of inputs.

Section control or section cutting: this type of solution presents the implement operator with the possibility to control the application of liquid spray inputs, reducing the overlap of the application and controlling the flow variations of application speed.

Variable rate control: this tool acts as a high precision controller where fertilisers and correctives can be applied intelligently and economically, allowing the visualisation of application traces during operation.

3. Machine Monitoring

One of the most efficient ways to assess whether the work is done can be improved and where it should be improved is to analyse data from the activities performed in order to achieve new results. And that's when telemetry comes into agriculture. The technology allows remote collection and sharing of information about agricultural machinery and equipment. Using this, it is possible to monitor in detail everything that happens to fleets that are working in the field, through reports and performance indicators.

What are the benefits of using precision agriculture?

The technology, whether in any segment of the industry, is developed to reduce the strength required to perform activities and consequently bring more profitability to the business. In agriculture, this could not be different. Precision agriculture resources presented here aim to optimise the resources used in the field (machines, operators, planted area, water, correctives, agrochemicals, etc.) so that they can be used more intelligently, improving the profitability of the business.

Precision agriculture has as its essence to automate activities so that they are executed accurately and with the least possible human interference, generating intelligent data and reports so that the manager is able to make decisions that make the operation more efficient every day, spending less and yielding more.

Now that you know how precision agriculture can bring better results to your agricultural operations in a simple and effective way, you do not want to waste the opportunity to increase your productive capacity, do you? Contact [agriculture@hexagon.com] our sales team and learn how to purchase Hexagon solutions.

Maximum profitability with Hexagon's precision agriculture resources.