The future of precision agriculture

Using predictive weather analytics to feed future generations

By 2050, it’s expected that the world’s population will reach 9.2 billion people, 34 percent higher than today. Much of this growth will happen in developing countries like Brazil, which has the largest area in the world with arable land for agriculture. To keep up with rising populations and income growth, global food production must increase by 70 percent in order to be able to feed the world.

For IBM researcher and Distinguished Engineer Ulisses Mello and a team of scientists from IBM Research – Brazil, the answer to that daunting challenge lies in real time data gathering and analysis. They are researching how “precision agriculture” techniques and technologies can maximize food production, minimize environmental impact and reduce cost.

“We have the opportunity to make a difference using science and technological innovation to address critical issues that will have profound effect on the lives of billions of people,” said Ulisses.

Optimizing planting, harvesting and distribution

In order to grow crops optimally farmers need to understand how to cultivate those crops in a particular area, taking into account a seed’s resistance to weather and local diseases, and considering the environmental impact of planting that seed. For example, when planting in a field near a river, it’s best to use a seed that requires less fertilizer to help reduce pollution.

Once the seeds have been planted, the decisions made around fertilizing and maintaining the crops are time-sensitive and heavily influenced by the weather. If farmers know they’ll have heavy rain the next day, they may decide not to put down fertilizer since it would get washed away. Knowing whether it’s going to rain or not can also influence when to irrigate fields. With 70 percent of fresh water worldwide used for agriculture, being able to better manage how it’s used will have a huge impact on the world’s fresh water supply.

Weather not only affects how crops grow, but also logistics around harvesting and transportation. When harvesting sugar cane, for example, the soil needs to be dry enough to support the weight of the harvesting equipment. If it’s humid and the soil is wet, the equipment can destroy the crop. By understanding what the weather will be over several days and what fields will be affected, better decisions can be made in advance about which fields workers should be deployed to.

Once the food has been harvested the logistics of harvesting and transporting food to the distribution centers is crucial. A lot of food waste happens during distribution, so it’s important to transport the food at the right temperature and not hold it for longer than needed. Even the weather can affect this; in Brazil, many of the roads are dirt, and heavy rain can cause trucks to get stuck in mud. By knowing where it will rain and which routes may be affected, companies can make better decisions on which routes will be the fastest to transport their food.

The future of precision agriculture

Currently, precision agriculture technologies are used by larger companies as it requires a robust IT infrastructure and resources to do the monitoring. However, Ulisses envisions a day when smaller farms and co-ops could use mobile devices and crowd sourcing to optimize their own agriculture.

“A farmer could take a picture of a crop with his phone and upload it to a database where an expert could assess the maturity of the crop based on its coloring and other properties. People could provide their own reading on temperature and humidity and be a substitute for sensor data if none is available,” he said.

With growing demands on the world’s food supply chain, it’s crucial to maximize agriculture resources in a sustainable manner. With expertise in high performance supercomputing, computational sciences, and analytics and optimization, IBM Research is uniquely able to understand the complexities of agriculture and develop the right weather forecasts, models and simulations that enable farmers and companies to make the right decisions.

(Source – http://www.research.ibm.com/articles/precision_agriculture.shtml)

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PA systems offer increased versatility

 There are precision ag products available now that allow operators to choose a steering system to suit their individual operation, while still having the capability to do field coverage mapping  and variable rate seeding. Farmers can also monitor implements on the go using up to four external cameras.

“Farmers can choose from a range of steering options including manual guidance, assisted steering and full autopilot whereby the tractor virtually steers itself.” says Ross Johansson, Brand Manager, AFS Precision Farming and Guidance. “We have the FM-1000 unit which is Real Time Kinetic (RTK) compatible to provide steering accuracy to within 2-cm which is ideal for farmers working in tramlining or controlled traffic environments.”

A range of seven steering patterns are available from curves to spirals and industry exclusive free-form steering. Operators can set the system to work in virtually any field condition, regardless of obstacles or unique field conditions. Steer the tractor, the gear or both The FM-1000 contains two GPS receivers which give farmers greater choice when it comes to steering both the tractor and implement. The first GPS receiver controls the tractor’s steering, while the second controls the implement steering path.

Operators can monitor the individual path of the tractor and implement. If they find the implement is steering along a different path due to field conditions or skew for example, they can program the system to steer the tractor off-line and maintain the implement only on the set guidance path. There is also the option to set the steering to keep both the tractor and implement on the guidance path, which is ideal for applications requiring a high degree of steering accuracy.

The design of the GPS receiver on the FM-1000 enables it to pick up a broad range of satellite networks known as the Global Navigation Satellite System, thereby reducing the chance of signal dropout. Signal drop out can be caused by a range of different interferences including solar flares which are forecast to increase in coming years. Solar flares are caused by explosions in the sun’s atmosphere and have the ability to interrupt GPS signals. By accessing a greater range of satellites, the risk of potential signal drop out is minimised, allowing farmers to keep on farming, accurately and reliably, with reduced down-time. The FM-1000 unit is also interchangeable between equipment and can be used across a broad range of equipment platforms, allowing farmers to maximise their investment in the technology.

(Source – http://www.australiansugarcane.com.au/Back%20issues/137djsug09/22_PAGuiding.pdf)

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Satellites as a bridge to new agronomic era

Nowadays it is hard to impress somebody with satellite launching. Though just 60 years ago it was like a fantastic tale. Nobody thought that it can be possible to see the photos of your house, street or field made from the space. In this article the issue of modern achievement, which became available thanks to satellite systems  and their influence on agrarian business will be discussed.

Achievement 1. Navigation.

Due to satellites the system of navigation GPS, which is now used for determination of  location and direction on air (aircrafts), on water (ships), and on land became possible. An advantage of this system is that it provides opportunity for any place (excluding polar region), almost in all weather conditions, to indicate the speed and  objects location. The basic principle here – the determination of the location by measuring the reception time of the synchronized signal from satellite to the consumer.

Achievement 2. Weather and climate control.

Satellites give possibility to explore the weather around the world, allowing them to follow the effects of phenomena like volcanic eruptions and burning gas and oil fields.

Satellites are the best sources of data for climate changes research. Satellites monitor ocean temperatures and prevailing currents; rise/drop of the sea levels, the changing sizes of glaciers. Satellites can determine long-term patterns of rainfall, vegetation cover, and emissions of greenhouse gases.

Achievement 3. Land Stewardship

Satellites can detect underground water and mineral sources; monitor the transfer of nutrients and contaminants from land into waterways, and the erosion of topsoil from land. They can efficiently monitor large-scale infrastructure, for example fuel pipelines that need to be checked for leaks.

As we can see, satellites have changed both: our leisure time and business, provoked the emergence of new agricultural technologies. We got possibility of more accurate prediction of changes in climate and weather, which is very important for farmers. Satellites have made possible simplification and improvement of the process of soil nitrogen saturation. We would like to highlight the following:

1. GPS+GIS

You can equip the tractor with signal receiver GPS, heading sensor and controller – the screen that reflects the identity or deviation from the path of the tractor predetermined. The control system allows you to store and forward rate tractor strictly parallel to the line that is fixed on the first pass of the unit, the second option – autopilot, which consists of electro-hydraulic automatic control of the tractor, which provides tractor autopilot on the field. Tractor-driver helps the process only while cornering, allowing it to focus on the process and less physically tired.

GIS (Geographic information system) – the system of collection, storage, analysis and graphical visualization of spatial (geographical) data and related information on the necessary facilities.

A new and promising directions in agriculture abroad is precision agriculture. The concern is that to use the heterogeneous data (the geographically-referenced results of soil sampling, remote sensing data processing, digital thematic maps) to optimize decision-making on the local application of fertilizers and pesticides into the soil to boost agricultural productivity.

2. Satellite crop monitoring

Technology based on spectral analysis of high resolution satellite crop images which enables to monitor vegetation developments, soil temperature,  humidity and to reveal problem areas on the field. Satellite crop monitoring is also suitable to precise weather forecast based on concrete field coordinates and to recall historical weather data retrospection. Discrepancy in NDVI dynamics reports about the disparities in development within a corn or a field that indicates the need for additional agricultural activities in some areas.

In conclusion, we can say that due to modern technologies as satellites we construct our future, and in order to go with the times it is very important to know about them and to use them, because combination of them with your experience make your business more efficient and with less time and effort costly.

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Comparison of Different Vegetation Indices for the Remote Assessment of Green Leaf Area Index of Crops

Many algorithms have been developed for the remote estimation of biophysical characteristics of vegetation, in terms of combinations of spectral bands, derivatives of reflectance spectra, neural networks, inversion of radiative transfer models, and several multi-spectral statistical approaches. However, the most widespread type of algorithm used is the mathematical combination of visible and near-infrared reflectance bands, in the form of spectral vegetation indices. Applications of such vegetation indices have ranged from leaves to the entire globe, but in many instances,  applicability of vegetation indices is specific to species, vegetation types or local conditions. The general objective of vegetation indices study is to evaluate different vegetation indices for the remote estimation of the green leaf area index (Green LAI) of two crop types (maize and soybean) with contrasting canopy architectures and leaf structures. Among the indices tested, the chlorophyll Indices (the CIGreen, the CIRed-edge and the MERIS Terrestrial Chlorophyll Index, MTCI) exhibited strong and significant linear relationships with Green LAI, and thus were sensitive across the entire range of Green LAI evaluated (i.e., 0.0 to more than 6.0 m2/m2). However, the CIRed-edge was the only index insensitive to crop type and produced the most accurate estimations of Green LAI in both crops (RMSE= 0.577 m2/m2). These results were obtained using data acquired with close range sensors (i.e., field spectroradiometers mounted 6 m above the canopy) and an aircraft-mounted hyperspectral imaging spectroradiometer (AISA). As the CIRed-edge also exhibited low sensitivity to soil background effects, it constitutes a simple, yet robust tool for the remote and synoptic estimation of Green LAI. Algorithms based on this index may not require re-parameterization when applied to crops with different canopy architectures and leaf structures, but further studies are required for assessing its applicability in other vegetation types (e.g., forests, grasslands).

The ratio of leaf surface area to unit ground surface area, called leaf area index (LAI) (Breda, 2003), describes the potential surface area available for leaf gas exchange between the atmosphere and the terrestrial biosphere (Cowling and Field, 2003). Therefore, it is an important parameter controlling many biological and physical processes of the vegetation, including the interception of light and water (rainfall and fog), attenuation of light through the canopy, transpiration, photosynthesis, autotrophic respiration, and carbon and nutrient (e.g. nitrogen, phosphorus, etc.) cycles. LAI obtained across a range of spatial scales, from individual plants to entire regions or continents (Bonan, 1993; Running, 1990; Running and Coughlan, 1988; Sellers et al., 1986) has been used extensively in interactive models of land surface processes (Field and Avissar, 1998; Pielke et al., 1998). As with other canopy structural properties, LAI can be separated into its photosynthetic and non-photosynthetic components. The portion of LAI composed of green leaf area (i.e., Green LAI) is the photosynthetically functional component.

Two main types of approaches have been developed to estimate Green LAI remotely: (1) inversions of canopy radiative transfer models (Fang et al., 2003; Knyazikhin et al., 1998a, 1998b; Weiss et al., 1999); and (2) empirical relationships between Green LAI and spectral vegetation indices (Chen and Cihlar, 1996; Curran, 1983a, b; Jordan, 1969; Myneni et al., 1997; Wiegand et al., 1979). While the two approaches are quite complementary (Pinty et al., 2009), it is difficult to obtain optimal parameterized solutions for radiative transfer model inversions (Fang et al., 2003). Therefore, vegetation indices have seen a more widespread use due to their ease of computation.

Spectral vegetation indices are mathematical combinations of different spectral bands mostly in the visible and near infrared regions of the electromagnetic spectrum. These numerical transformations are semi-analytical measures of vegetation activity and have been widely shown to vary not only with the seasonal variability of green foliage, but also across space, thus suitable for detecting within-field spatial variability (i.e., useful in precision agriculture). The main purpose of spectral vegetation indices is to enhance the information contained in spectral reflectance data, by extracting the variability due to vegetation characteristics (e.g. LAI, vegetation cover) and to minimize soil, atmospheric, and sun-target-sensor geometry effects (Moulin and Guerif, 1999). Spectral vegetation indices constitute a simple and convenient approach to extract information from remotely sensed data, due to their ease of use, which facilitates the processing and analysis of large amounts of data acquired by satellite platforms (Govaerts et al., 1999; Myneni et al., 1995). Significant advances have been achieved in the understanding of the nature and proper interpretation of spectral vegetation indices (Myneni et al., 1995; Pinty et al., 1993) and theoretical frameworks have been proposed to support the development of indices optimized for particular applications/ sensors (Gobron et al., 2000; Verstraete et al., 1996).

Applications of vegetation indices have ranged from leaf to global levels, and in the case of Green LAI, some successes have been obtained for different crops (Boegh et al., 2002; Broge and Mortensen, 2002; Clevers, 1989; Colombo et al., 2003; Curran, 1983a, b; Xiao et al., 2002). However, most vegetation indices tend to be species specific and therefore, are not robust when applied across different species,
with different canopy architectures and leaf structures. The goal of this study is to evaluate the suitability of different vegetation indices for the remote estimation of multi-temporal Green LAI of crops with contrasting leaf structures and canopy architectures… <based on>

(Source – https://www.msu.edu/~vina/2011_RSE_GLAI.pdf)

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Vegetation Control: Profitable Investment

Agricultural complex has always been one of the most significant propelling forces of the Ukrainian economy. Agriculture provides for 8% of total GDP, covering about 71% of the territory and 17% of working population employment. Meanwhile, in comparison with their foreign peers, the performance indicators of domestic agrarian companies demonstrate disproportion in operating results. Thus, if we scrutinize developing countries with agricultural specialization, Ukraine will demonstrate the highest rate of territory used for crop production (0.71 hectares per citizen) with a relatively small contribution to the GDP (-3−8% to the other countries level).

This correlation is reflected in the grain crop yield, which ranks Ukraine far behind the majority of leading grain-producing countries. Extensive management methods have led to the degradation of the black soil and thus – to the increase in expenses required per unit of cultivated area, fertilizers in particular.

It is impossible to improve  productivity performance in Ukraine without a substantial growth in mineral fertilizers use. However, global (reduction of the discrepancy between demand and production capacity) and domestic (deficit of phosphate fertilizers, potash fertilizer production standstill, increasing natural gas price) factors lead to constant rise in fertilizers prices for Ukrainian farmers and as a result lead to the profitable investments.

In addition, it should be noted that prices for agricultural machinery, fuel and pesticides have significantly increased. Even despite the fact that crop prices in 2011 have risen on average by 15%, the increase in prices for machinery and other accompanying expenses was more substantial.

The human capital costs have changed in a similar manner: the average nominal wage of an agricultural worker has increased by 25.9%during the last year. Still the Ukrainian agriculture industry employs +5-10% more population as compared to the European countries, while every employee produces 2-5x times less quantity of the added value.

In 2011 the expenses for fertilizers, POL and wages constituted almost 40% of crop production cost, thus during only one year the price jump caused spending spree by 15% and even more for specific crops. Let alone the cost of spare parts and materials for the repair of machinery and buildings (+0.3% in the total cost structure) and the rising costs for seed grain. In other words, such a scenario allows to catch up with the price increase tendency, but arouses the necessity to renovate obsolete production capacities, agriculture machines fleet, which also become less affordable, especially in terms of “price-quality” ratio. For example, some items from leading international equipment producers which are available in Ukraine have raised in price by 10% and even more in comparison with the analogue machines from the CIS.

Thus the problem is to find internal sources of production cost reduction to compensate the cost increase, which is beyond the agricultural holding control (fuel and metal prices, fertilizers deficiency, etc.). Global agricultural products prices do not depend on production cost in Ukraine, so it is the agrarian’s business to reduce it by cultivation cost-cutting. For this reason, developed countries opt for the use of precision agriculture system based on computer analysis of remote crops sensing data (RSD). Some Ukrainian farms already use such agricultural technologies as geologic information systems (GIS) and global positioning system (GPS). But in such a limited format these technologies are rather used to control equipment fleet maintenance, fuel input rationality and adequate farm maps creation. In the course of our cooperation with the agricultural companies management, we have discovered that a maximum allowable innovation is considered to be the purchase of expensive foreign equipment, its GPS monitoring installation and the creation of interactive maps of soils of rather satisfying quality. But precision agriculture implies exactly the efficient usage of every single asset. Even a large fleet of tractors can not effectively cultivate the fields without additional instructions on problem areas, non-rational heavy fertilization can be harmful and interactive maps do not allow to understand the current field condition in a real-time mode. It proves to be a real problem for the large farms as they simply fail to control the vegetation on their fields, and thus to identify in time the causes of low crop yield in different regions.

The main condition for the high-efficient GPS and GIS deployment is close cooperation with the system of constant remote vegetation control of field crops. Altogether, this forms the organizational strategic units . This scheme enables to attract fewer workers to control vegetation, field works planning and maintenance of communication between individual units and subunits of agro-enterprises. The vegetation control system performs constant monitoring of agro-enterprises soils irrespective of the distance among the fields and of the crops planted. Upon the abnormal “spot” appearance on the field, the person in charge receives a message and the agronomist makes appropriate decisions regarding fertilization, irrigation or other cultivation arrangements. We have to admit that other methods of soil monitoring (driving around the fields, installation of special observing equipment on certain areas, taking soil pieces for laboratory analysis, etc.) are less informative but consume more time and funds. In addition, each of the observations is far more difficult to organize and to hold than to download all required current and historical data (with its automatic interpretation) from any computer connected to the Internet.

As the conducted research have revealed, the cost of the each service on average starts from $1.5 a year per hectare, depending on the total farm area the system maintains. At the same time, this service allows to save $3-5/ha and to make profit from efficiency performance increment (e.g. for winter wheat) starting from $13/ha. In other words, every invested dollar gives an opportunity to earn 18 times more by reducing costs and increasing the efficiency of crops cultivation. For instance, if 10 largest domestic agricultural holdings have a land domain of more than 150,000 ha each, the application of RSD satellite analysis will bring a profit measured in tens of millions US dollars.

Nowadays, only a few domestic companies in Ukraine render services of crop vegetation control. However this derives from a low demand due to conservatism of the most agrarians, their general aversion to high technologies and short period of presence of such services in the domestic market. On the other hand, internal trends in the agricultural sector indicate that the next steps of the businessmen in agricultural field will become optimization of assets and search for sources to improve their operation efficiency.

Tags: satellite, precise agriculture, GIS, GPS, crop, Ukraine, efficiency, wheat, sunflower, barley, legumes

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Weather History

To get data on historical temperature figures, cloudiness and humidity indices for each month in different regions or countries all over the world you can use World Meteorological Organization database  by following this link.

Moreover, some crop monitoring systems (e.g. satellite vegetation monitoring systems) offer the option of precise weather forecast backed by historical database

Tags: World Meteorological Organization, forecast, weather, agriculture, temperature, cloudiness, humidity, crop, yield

 

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Precision Agriculture and the Ukrainian Reality

The Committee on World Food Security research shows that nowadays global welfare largely depends on the dynamics of food production. We have learned how to synthesize scarce sapphire crystals and how to replace expensive petrol with biofuel, but still unable to cope with the hunger problem. The world population is growing, while the area of free land for the expansion of crops is limited – another deforestation or swamps draining is a potential threat of ecological disaster. Profits from sunflower oil, wheat or sugar sales in the world market are comparable to machinery and coal trade profitability. The question is why more than a third of Ukrainian agricultural enterprises are unprofitable in such favorable environment? What methods of doing business help global leaders of the agricultural market work more efficiently than domestic companies that have rich Ukrainian soils?

Ukrainian-type Efficiency of Agricultural Business

The necessity to pursue the way of the intensive agricultural development became evident to the most developed countries long ago. The most recent developments in science and technology are applied not only to space rocket engineering, but to work in the field as well. Modern agricultural machinery is equipped with computers, new varieties of crops are grown in the laboratories, whilst satellites and drones are watching crops of large landowners in real-time. Nowadays agriculture of developed countries turns to an absolutely new level of competition – the efficient one. In a market where you can not control the price, you must manage the prime cost or go away. Agricultural market has become so global that the most effective way to manage profitability is to manage production costs. Modern wars are held without tanks and infantry – just one rocket is enough if it hits the enemy’s camp navigated from space and powered with minimum resources, but reaching maximum effect. The same processes take place in the agrarian sector. All the efforts have been turned to allocate available resources with the highest efficiency to achieve the utmost result.

The general picture of precision agriculture in Ukraine calls for new efficient reforms at least to overtake the leading world agrarian producers. Let us turn to statistics. According to the State Statistics Service of Ukraine, since the proclamation of independence in Ukraine the level of the plowed area reached nearly 72% of total country territory which is one of the highest indices value in the world. At the same time the production volume of cereals/legumes and sugar beets per capita declined in comparison with 1990 by 13% and 65% respectively. This means that the extensity of using acreage has not justified itself. The same is about the excessive use of another available resource in Ukraine – manpower. In this country over 16% of the population is employed in the agricultural sector (according to the FAO research, this figure does not exceed 9% for the developed countries), but the number of added value created by one employee is “only” 2,500 dollars per year (in the U.S. it equals to 51,000 dollars, in Romania – 9,700, in Poland – 3,000).

Significant gap between leading countries and Ukraine can be actually closed only with the help of many millions of investments that seems very difficult within the global financial crisis. The lack of “long-term money” (the payback period in the agriculture reaches at least 5-7 years even in the most optimistic scenario) multiplied by the lack of investments defend guarantees, inflation and instability of commodity markets, creates difficulties to obtain financing even for the largest agricultural holdings. However, it is hardly possible to overtake the world leaders by the other way in the current business environment: according to the World Bank, Ukrainian reality shows us that Ukraine has one of the lowest rates of fertilizer expenses and tractor use per unit of cultivated area, the average productivity depending on the crop is lower than world analogs in two or three times, each planting and harvesting campaign has deficiency of oil products whose production in Ukraine is insufficient because of a lack of raw materials and general equipment deterioration.

Let’s Change the Principles!

In such a situation the Ukrainian agricultural sector needs to find alternative ways for the further development. It’s half of the problem when we lose our export positions – much worse is when we have to purchase the agricultural production for foreign currency abroad like it regularly happens with sugar. If oil, natural gas, phosphates and other raw materials for agriculture are rising in price, it is better to optimize their consumption per unit of cultivated area to achieve maximum efficiency in each field, for each type of crops. The one who will be able to offer worthy quality at a reasonable market price, without doing himself out of his share and his interest as an entrepreneur, can be a winner in the market competition. It is necessary to abandon an unprofitable principle of explicit loss and to switch to smart management “as needed”. What’s the use of distributing fertilizers evenly, if only few fields or areas within the field need more fertilizers, while the others have the surplus? Does it make sense to go around the crops every day to check whether everything is in order, if there are systems for identifying problem fields? Why do we use the weather forecast for the nearest settlement, if we need the weather for a particular field in two dozen kilometers away? These are the questions which have become the philosophy of agribusiness in developed countries but are not that popular among the Ukrainians.

Precision Agriculture

It is possible to achieve the result described above with the help of so-called “precision agriculture” – the use of the concept about the existence of heterogeneity within a single field or planting. Such features could be caused by the landscape specifics, soil composition and proximity of mineral layers, condition of groundwater, climatic characteristics and features of crops which were grown on the area before. Precision agriculture foresees the continuous monitoring of crops and soil for the operational planning of the range of actions to optimize the condition of problem areas. For example, if a separate section of the field area of 20 hectares has a small yellow spot area of 0.5 hectares, it is not necessary to fertilize or to impose additional watering sessions to the whole field – it is enough just to handle problem areas. This will result in much lower costs of fertilizer, POL, wages and depreciation of equipment, even more – it will save working hours of equipment and employees for other tasks.

Monitoring Systems

 Monitoring of fields can be realized in different ways: driving round fields, collecting and analyzing soil samples, using sensors and aerial photography. At the current level of technological development, one can launch aircraft without a pilot but equipped with sensors,  photo- and video cameras and filled with fuel to make a 30-minute flight. However, the complexity of control and maintenance of such equipment, as well as the size of field (over 100 hectares) make this work scheme quite expensive and hardly feasible. For such a scale, agrarians opt for satellite space shooting , the processing of which allows to monitor crops and to make decisions about pointed application of fertilizers, insecticides or herbicides, irrigation or other actions  based on the handling of images with overlaid in red and infrared spectrum. In addition, data from such programs can be uploaded in any electronic device or in the onboard computer of agricultural machinery making it easier to set tasks for employees in the agricultural enterprise.

Satellite crop monitoring systems are successfully used in many countries of America, Europe and the CIS. The most well-known and effective providers of this service are such companies as Cropio (USA/Germany), Astrium-Geo (France), Mapexpert (Ukraine), Vega (Russia). The use of these systems allows not only to monitor efficiently the condition of fields, but also to receive reports and notifications about the most important issues through Internet or sms, to make forecasts of the field productivity and the entire enterprise, to receive related information about the agricultural markets, currency rates and prices for agricultural products in certain markets, to compare current and historical indices of vegetation, soil moisture, content of fertilizers.

Cost Savings Plain to See

Few of us has thought that it takes at least 0.4 liters of fuel or UAH 1.2 to drive round of field area of 1 ha (100 m*100 m) 8 times per year. According to the American Institute of the Precise Farming, the differentiated fertilization brings savings of 10% per hectare. Having summed these and other explicit and implicit costs, we can obtain savings of at least UAH 146 per hectare using satellite observation in Ukrainian agriculture.

If in the Ukrainian realities domestic businessmen are progressive enough and ready to start running the management according to new standards using the techniques of precise agriculture, it is quite possible that eventually Ukraine will become one of the absolute world leaders in the production of some crops, and a number of major agricultural exchanges will be opened on its territory involving customers from around the world. The Ukrainian agronomist who uses services of satellite crop increases its professional efficiency and management methods makes a real “jump” from the Stone Age to the age of high technology. Such an agronomist is in the same league with his colleagues from around the world leveraging not only Soviet scientific school knowledge, but also the global scientific progress.

The result is smaller staff of agronomists, lower fuel and fertilizer costs. Having one or more of such satellite monitoring centres, the agrarian can cut costs that previously put at risk the profitability of enterprise, and what is even more crucially, optimize the quality and return of each resource, be it land, workers, machinery or fertilizers. It is always better to make qualitative changes rather than quantitative ones in each operation of business cycle. The customer is ready to buy the product at a price not higher than a certain threshold which occurs as the average price of all sellers, in a free market he will not overpay for our inability to run a business efficiently. As advertising recalls: “Why should I pay more?”

Summing up, let us recollect another wise saying: “Everything dies without sustained development.” Nowadays it is not enough to own hundreds of hectares of high-quality black soil or endlessly increase fleet of vehicles. Once in a while one should step back and take a look at unproductive attempts to invest and think how to make more money. The authors of political economy put it that the possessing of right information helps to make a profit.

Tags: precise agriculture, Ukraine, satellite, fertilizer, wheat, barley, legumes, sunflower, agronomist, Cropio

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