Precision Agriculture: benefits and haymaking applications

Precision farming, also known as precision agriculture, is about the whole farm management with the goal of optimizing returns on inputs while preserving resources.


What is meant by precision farming?

It represents an approach to farm management that uses information technology (IT) to ensure that crops and soil receive exactly what they need for optimum health and productivity. Precision AG targets to ensure profitability, environmental sustainability and protection of the environment. Precision farming is also known as satellite agriculture, as-needed farming and site-specific crop management (SSCM).

By using site-specific knowledge, precision agriculture aims at using precise rates of fertilizer, seed and chemicals for soil and other variable conditions (e.g.: climate).

There is much scientific literature that indicates how digital agriculture can contribute to long-term sustainable development of production agriculture, confirming the intuitive idea that precision agriculture should reduce environmental loading by applying fertilizers and pesticides only where they are needed, and when they are needed.

What are the benefits of precision farming?

Precision agriculture benefits to the environment come from more targeted use of inputs that reduce losses from excess applications and from reduction of losses due to nutrient imbalances, weed escapes, insect damage, etc. Other benefits include a reduction in pesticide resistance development.

But there is more.

Traditional arable management practice has tended to manage fields uniformly and has tended to ignore the inherent spatial variability found on most farms.

This has been even intensified by the increase of field size due to pressures from mechanization. Precision farming is a management practice that has been made possible by the advent of suitable information technologies, and it provides a framework within which agronomy managers can more accurately understand and control what happens on their farms.

But from our point of view how can digital agriculture influence hay-making? And what kind of impact will we expect? What is our possible range of actions?

Precision farming haymaking applications

An example of a precision farming tool is variable rate technology, which allows crop producers to apply variable rates of fertilizer across a field. Similarly, yield monitoring systems record yield data (grain and grain moisture) on a combine during harvesting.

Precision farming applied to haymaking can make the entire operation more streamlined and efficient. The entire process becomes instantly faster, easier and more productive.

precision farming

Auto-guidance (also called autosteer) is a digital agriculture technology that uses GPS and can result in accuracy within one centimetre when planting, spraying herbicide, or applying fertilizer.

This improved precision during field activities can result in fewer overlaps (areas in the field with double application) and gaps (or skipped areas in the field) and overall improved efficiencies (both economic and environmental).

According to some farmers “auto-guidance” can give some relief to the operator because he is able to mow faster, improving his productivity with less effort. A farm operator is even able to enjoy the haymaking process, because it becomes less stressing, since he can monitor better the tractor and mowers and keep under control obstructions in the field. The farmer can mow more acres in the same amount of time with auto-guidance with less fatigue.

When it comes to precision-farming benefits that trickle down through the haymaking process, one of the most notable items is swath consistency.

Through a self-propelled windrower the operator can take a big advantage because the crop dried more evenly seem to produce big bales more uniformly.

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