Geospatial technologies are helping to establish more effective and efficient farming techniques. They are used to analyze soil data and crop health from a distance, with large areas covered all at once, and they help answer these questions:
What is the most suitable crop to plant?
Where should they be planted?
What nutrient deficits may be hindering plant growth?
Geospatial technologies are fully integrated into and widely accepted by government agencies for managing programs that support farmers and protect the environment. These technologies can help increase food production and security in different parts of the world. Let's see how:
Soil mapping helps understand soil suitability and Agriculture Risk Coverage for various land use activities; it is essential for preventing environmental degradation associated with the inappropriate use of land. Geospatial technologies are used to identify soil types in an area and to delineate soil boundaries. These technologies also allow the identification and classification of soil. Soil maps are widely used by farmers in developed countries, who need to manage soil nutrients and maximize yield.
Water availability is vital information for crop production in any region; water resources need to be appropriately and efficiently managed for proper irrigation. Integrated use of satellite remote sensing and GIS, assisted by ground information, is an efficient pairing for identifying major crop types and their conditions and to evaluate irrigation performance. The plant's irrigation requirements can be determined by considering factors such as evapotranspiration, net irrigation requirement, field irrigation requirement, gross irrigation requirement, and monthly total volume of water required, and organizing them in a GIS environment.
Infested area mapping
Increasing incidences of pests and weeds will decrease crop production. Crop infestations and their effect on health status may be directly visible in the satellite imagery or revealed through vegetation analysis techniques. Therefore, GIS plays a vital role in mapping out infested areas and crop damage. This information supports the development of pest management best practices (BP) and an effective integrated pest management plan (IPM).
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Farming cycle monitoring
The studied crop types as well as climate variables are two essential input parameters that need to be taken into consideration before further analysis of the farming cycle using remote sensing. Examples of agricultural applications where Earth observation can play a vital role in the daily operations of farmers are the following.
During crop selection:
Assess the feasibility of the crop considering climate and quality of land.
Compare crop productivity with other alternatives.
Forecast production yield.
During land preparation:
Assess the effects of any disease from the previous cultivation and determine steps needed to minimize this impact.
Determine soil amendments which are required to bring the land to its normal fertility, depending upon the earlier crops and fertilizer used.
Create layout and design for efficient irrigation.
Incorporate latest techniques for field clearance and associated costs.
During seed sowing:
Set the appropriate time to sow.
Determine optimal weather conditions at sowing time.
Establish best practices for sowing.
Control seed sowing depth.
Find critical time for irrigation.
Calculate the volume of water needed.
Set frequency of irrigation.
During crop growth:
Optimize the number of plants per unit of area. At times, plants may be too densely planted. Farmers must reduce density for the healthy growth of plants.
Monitor the average growth rate of the crop in normal conditions.
Compare crop growth rate, leaf size, crop color, etc. with expected growth for given situations and input.
Find interventions needed to maintain likely growth.
Determine frequency, quantity, and method for fertilization.
Set the proper time, frequency, and method for plowing.
Set the appropriate time, frequency, and method for weeding
Prepare for pest and weed attacks, detect such attacks' symptoms, prepare precautionary measures that can be taken in advance to avoid these attacks, take immediate actions to combat them, determine the quantity of pesticide to be used per acre, find best practices for pesticide applications.
During the harvesting period:
Set proper time and method for crop harvesting.