Agriculture

Precision farming or satellite farming is a farming management concept based on observing and responding to intra-field variations. Today, precision agriculture is about whole farm management with the goal of optimizing returns on inputs while preserving resources. It relies on new technologies like satellite imagery, information technology, and geospatial tools. It is also aided by farmers’ ability to locate their precise position in a field using satellite positioning system like the GPS or other GNSS.

Precision agriculture aims to optimize field-level management with regard to:
• crop science: by matching farming practices more closely to crop needs (e.g. fertilizer inputs);
• environmental protection: by reducing environmental risks and footprint of farming (e.g. limiting leaching of nitrogen);
• economics: by boosting competitiveness through more efficient practices (e.g. improved management of fertilizer usage and other inputs).
Precision agriculture also provides farmers with a wealth of information to:
• build up a record of their farm;
• improve decision-making;
• foster greater traceability
• enhance marketing of farm products
• improve lease arrangements and relationship with landlords
• enhance the inherent quality of farm products (e.g. protein level in bread-flour wheat)

Precision agriculture management practices can significantly reduce the amount of nutrient and other crop inputs used while boosting yields. Farmers thus obtain a return on their investment by saving on phytosanitary and fertilizer costs. The second, larger-scale benefit of targeting inputs—in spatial, temporal and quantitative terms—concerns environmental impacts. Applying the right amount of inputs in the right place and at the right time benefits crops, soils and groundwater, and thus the entire crop cycle.

Consequently, precision agriculture has become a cornerstone of sustainable agriculture, since it respects crops, soils and farmers. Sustainable agriculture seeks to assure a continued supply of food within the ecological, economic and social limits required to sustain production in the long term. Precision agriculture therefore seeks to use high-tech systems in pursuit of this goal.

A EUR 10,000 cash prize is on offer to agricultural students and young farmers across Europe. The ‘Farming by Satellite’ award, an initiative of the GSA is sponsored by agricultural machinery manufacturer CLAAS and crop science experts Bayer.

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