Farmers have been dealing with high agricultural costs. Prices for farm equipment, seed, and fertilizer have risen recently, squeezing farmers’ profits. To stay in business, farmers may need to find ways to manage their costs. As a result, farmers must take the necessary measures to reduce agriculture costs while maintaining profitability. Fortunately, farmers now have access to a plethora of tools and information that can assist them in optimizing their operations to increase yields and reduce farm operating costs. One of the most effective cost reduction strategies in agriculture is the adaptation of precision farming technology.
Precision ag technology is becoming increasingly popular for a variety of reasons. It is a method of gathering accurate farm field data to produce more yield with fewer resources. In effect, it helps with reducing agricultural costs by allowing the efficient use of resources. It has exploded in fame recently as farmers rush to adopt new technologies to improve their bottom line. And it is anticipated to rise further.
By 2030, the global Precision Agriculture market is expected to reach USD 19.24 billion, representing a 14.95% compound annual growth rate from 2022. The market is more dominant in North America. Studies have shown that anywhere from 15 to 40% of big farms in the United States use precision technology.
Various components of precision agriculture help improve farming in multiple ways. Some can assist with efficient fertilizer inputs and irrigation, while some components provide accurate monitoring and weather forecasts. This blog post will review four of these cost-reduction technologies in agriculture.
Variable Rate Application Technology
Variable Rate Application Technology, abbreviated as VRT, refers to a category of agricultural technology that allows farmers to apply varying quantities of inputs, thus helping mitigate high agricultural costs. These innovations help with fertilizer, water, and pesticide distribution across different field sections, based on that section’s requirements. Farmers now have the option to tailor their irrigation systems to meet the unique needs of their fields, thanks to advancements in technology.
For instance, the VRT can be used to apply more herbicide to a region especially prone to weed growth, or farmers can use it to apply more water to a region especially parched. Utilizing VRT enables farmers to use inputs such as fertilizer, water, and pesticides more effectively. In practice, it enables farmers to reduce the amount of money they spend on these inputs while increasing their efficiency.
Drip Irrigation System
Drip irrigation systems are a type of irrigation technology that directs water to plant roots. Drip irrigation systems function by evenly applying a small amount of water — and, in some cases, fertilizer — to a particular location. This type of irrigation is available in two variants: subsurface drip irrigation and surface drip irrigation.
Tubing is placed beneath the ground in a subsurface system, typically for high-value produce crops. High-value crops give farmers higher net returns per hectare than high-yielding winter rice. These could include hybridized maize, potatoes, fruits and vegetables, and spices.
On the other hand, a surface drip irrigation system comes after the crops have been planted, providing irrigation support during dry spells. Key advantages of these systems include reduced water use compared to other irrigation methods, focused water and fertilizer usage at the root zone, and energy savings.
With this water-saving method, farmers are sure to reduce their agricultural costs, and because of its effectiveness, many farmers are adopting this practice. The global drip irrigation market is expected to be worth USD 9.37 billion by 2026, growing at a 9.30% CAGR.
Smart Cloud Databases
Farming now employs computing tools to aid in accurately monitoring operations. One of them is smart cloud databases. These databases can serve as a centralized repository for farm field data, assisting farmers in more effectively tracking and managing their crops. These smart cloud databases link to and receive data from hardware on the field, such as sensors and cameras. It then stores and analyzes the data to provide real-time analytics.
The information it can provide includes soil conditions, crop growth, and pest infestations. It also offers agriculture-related information, such as weather patterns and market prices. Farmers can use these volumes of data to make better decisions about seed selection, planting dates, irrigation, and other farming processes. Gearing farmers with these authentic pieces of information allows them to strategize, know which inputs to spend on effectively, and understand which areas of the field need attention, thereby saving agricultural costs.
By integrating with other farm management systems, smart cloud databases can also help farmers automate tasks and reduce their overall workload. There are numerous smart cloud databases on the market, each with its features and benefits. Farmers should evaluate their needs and choose the database that best meets those needs.
Artificial Intelligence, or AI, is becoming increasingly important on farms worldwide. AI technology is usually integrated with farming machines, such as sensors, cameras, tractors, and farming drones and robots, to make them smarter. These AI-powered machines are programmed to detect the health of farm crops and patterns in farming operations and provide this information in real time. Accurate information can assist farmers in making decisions that reduce agricultural costs.
Farmers can use AI to monitor crop and soil conditions. Along with understanding farm conditions, AI technology can assist with optimizing farming systems, such as irrigation systems and forecast weather patterns, among other things. They can also use it to create new crop strains more resistant to pests and diseases. Monitoring and understanding farm health assists farmers in understanding what inputs are needed, thereby lowering agricultural costs and the risks of unhealthy crops, which means more income for farmers.
Autonomous tractors are one of the best examples of AI-powered technology on farms. AI is the technology behind the ability to program tractors to run in the field and monitor crops without a human driver. It is because tech innovators can program tractors to understand a specific farm field and its topography and pathways. It also allows farmers to control the tractors remotely. The ability of AI to run machines autonomously can also help reduce labor costs and manage farmhand shortages while also increasing productivity and efficiency.
Precision Ag Technology: The Answer to Rising Input Costs
Precision agriculture systems, or smart farming, has led to the evolution of farm management systems. They enable farmers to address a wide range of issues, particularly the ever-increasing agricultural costs. At the same time, precision agriculture encompasses a variety of tools that growers must master to maximize production while reducing operating costs. Precision agriculture can dramatically improve crop quality and profitability by utilizing modern technologies such as satellite imagery and field mapping.
Furthermore, it optimizes the use of traditional resources, which aids in the growth of sustainable agriculture dramatically, allowing for the resolution of economic and environmental problems.
Another advantage of precision agriculture is that it vastly improves crop efficiency and saves money while increasing output. Precision agriculture technologies appear expensive at first glance, but the long-term savings are considerably more significant than conventional agricultural methods. As a result, growers can accurately calculate the required fertilizer amount and pick the best fertilizer types for a specific area. Such technologies are essential because they improve agricultural operations planning over time by adjusting the real-time strategy.
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