Precision agriculture allows farmers to use technology to create management systems based on site-specific data on soils, crops, nutrients, pest moisture, or yield. Instead of treating a field as one, this technology is site-specific, reducing the need for over-application or misapplication of products.
Other examples of precision agriculture include the use of global positioning systems (GPS) and GPS-computer-guided machinery. Using GPS technology results in more accurate and efficient use of resources.
Nearly 50 percent of U.S. farmers use precision technology for increased farm conservation.
In this article, Pritish Kumar explains the Uses of technology for healthier soils.
Reduced tillage provides important benefits to the soil including reduced soil erosion, improved water infiltration, increased organic matter, and improve overall soil health. In the U.S., 70 percent of soybean acres use reduced tillage, including no-till.
Many Minnesota soybean farmers use tile drainage to help improve water quality and reduce soil erosion. Other advantages include more consistent yield, less plant stress, fewer plant diseases, and less soil compaction. Another large benefit is the decrease of total surface runoff, protecting water quality.
Eighty percent of soybean acres are used in crop rotation, improving soil health and reducing pest and weed issues. Many Minnesota farmers use a corn-soybean crop rotation.
A cover crop is a crop grown for the protection and enrichment of the soil. Today’s soybean farmers may use cover crops to reduce nutrient loss by taking up nutrients left over from the previous crop. The benefits are endless – including increased soil organic matter, reduced soil erosion and compaction, improved soil health, and increased biological activity.
Today’s farming practices to protect water quality
Farmers today use several conservation methods to protect water quality. These conservation methods are used to slow water runoff and trap sediment and nutrients. One example that farmers use is buffer strips. Buffer strips remove 50 percent of nutrients and pesticides and 75 percent of sediment. They also allow more time for infiltration within the buffer.
Buffers also serve as a food source, nesting cover, and shelter for many wildlife species.
Other examples are terraces and grass waterways.
Minnesota soybean farmers also participate in state-wide, voluntary water quality protection programs to take the lead in implementing conservation practices on their farms. These programs assist farmers with making the best decisions for their farms.
Digital technology tools
Technology is an important part of farming today. Farmers use interactive, online tools and services to continue improving their productivity and efficiency. Examples of this include:
Farmers are utilizing UAV imagery to monitor crop health the entire growing season, as well as gaining a better understanding of the hydrology of soil, nutrients within the soil, yield loss and gain, and soil temperature.
UAV technology is currently being developed to spot spray-specific weeds and identify certain crop diseases before they appear on the plant.
Data and Technology Services –
Data and technology services map and apply crop nutrients precisely where needed and continually change based on soil type and location in the field. Technology platforms are utilized to overlap multiple field informational maps so farmers can make the best possible decisions on items like seed selection, crop nutrients, chemical application, and more.
Biotechnology and GMOs
Scientists have been using plant breeding techniques to improve our crop production for thousands of years. In the 1980s, scientists began using biotechnology, or the method of transferring desired genes directly into a plant, to create plants with beneficial characteristics. These products are called genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. For more information please visit Pritish Kumar Halder
Each new GMO undergoes years of testing to ensure it is as safe as its non-GMO counterpart. On average, it takes 13 years and costs $130 million to bring a GMO to market.
Why do farmers use GMOs?
Every region, field, and environment is different, causing specific challenges and setbacks for farmers. GMOs allow farmers to address those challenges and choose the right seed, specific to their needs.
Impact of Modern Agriculture on the Environment
As we know that modern agriculture improved the affordability of food, increased the food supply, ensured food safety, increased sustainability, and also produced more biofuels. But at the same time, it also leads to environmental problems because it is based on high input–high output technique using hybrid seeds of high-yielding variety and abundant irrigation water, fertilizers, and pesticides. The impacts of modern agriculture on the Environment are discussed below.
The top fertile soil of the farmland is removed due to the excessive water supply. This leads to the loss of nutrient-rich soil that hampered productivity. It also causes global warming because the silt of water bodies induces the release of soil carbon from the particulate organic material.
How has climate change affected human life?
Contamination of groundwater
Groundwater is one of the important sources of water for irrigation. From agricultural fields, nitrogenous fertilizers leach into the soil and finally contaminate groundwater. When the nitrate level of groundwater exceeds 25 mg/l, it can cause a serious health hazard known as “Blue Baby Syndrome”, which affects mostly infants and even leads to their death.
Water-logging and salinity
The salinity of the soil is one of the reasons for low productivity just because of the improper management of farm drainage. In this situation, the roots of plants do not get enough air for respiration then which leads to low crop yield as well as low mechanical strength.
It refers to the addition of artificial or non-artificial substances such as nitrates and phosphate, through fertilizers or sewage, to a freshwater system. It leads to an increase in the primary productivity of the water body or the ‘bloom’ of phytoplankton.
Excessive use of fertilizers that consists of nitrogen and phosphorus leads to over-nourishment of the lakes/water bodies and gives rise to the phenomenon of eutrophication (EU = more, trophication = nutrition).
Excessive use of Pesticide
Many pesticides are used to destroy pests and boost crop production. Earlier arsenic, sulphur, lead, and mercury was used to kill pests. For Example- Dichloro Diphenyl Trichloroethane (DDT) content pesticides were used, but unfortunately, they also target the beneficial pests. Most importantly, many pesticides are non-biodegradable, which is also linked to the food chains and harmful to human beings.
The relative significance of farming has dropped steadily since the beginning of industrialization, and in 2006 – for the first time in history – the services sector overtook agriculture as the economic sector employing the most people worldwide. But we forget that if we need food to survive then we need agriculture.