CRC - Precision Farming: Soil Fertility and Productivity Aspects

Organization: CRC
Publication Date: 19 February 2013
Page Count: 176


Precision is an important concept that has induced, guided, and improved many aspects of human endeavor for ages. Historically, precision has been an important factor in agricultural evolution per se. Precision in planting dates and matching crops with seasons to derive maximum advantage from soils and precipitation patterns are perhaps the oldest aspects of agriculture. Farmers have been striving to achieve greater accuracy on these aspects of agricultural cropping since the Neolithic period. They continue to do so even today. There is no doubt that through the ages, precision as a concept has been imbibed into almost every technique and practice during crop production. Precision has been a key factor in selection of healthy seeds, seeding technique, fertile locations, types of manures, and moist zones. Precision has sometimes caused quantum changes in cropping pattern and productivity. Precision in matching soil fertility and its variations with crop species or its genotype with yield goals is a key aspect of agriculture in any part of the world. Precision is needed while selecting a crop genotype. The genotype should match the agro-environment, soils, season, grain yield goals, and profitability. Agricultural cropping trends and productivity, in particular, have depended on the extent of precision bestowed on farming procedures. For example, precise crop genotype, accurate supply of nutrients, and irrigation in time and space were major factors in improving crop productivity during first half of the 20th century. Today, precision techniques offer farmers the greatest opportunity to regulate soil nutrient dynamics, protect agro-environment and yet enhance crop productivity.

During recent years, a perceptibly greater degree of precision has been incorporated into almost all farming procedures. Soil fertility and manure supply trends, in particular, have received greater attention with regard to the extent of precision possible. The advent of computer models, simulations, and decision support systems have allowed us to direct exact quantities of seeds, fertilizers, water, and pesticides through the use of variable-rate technology. Actually, equipments such as computers, handheld sensors, and satellite-guided systems have remarkably enhanced precision during farming. Precision technique creates uniform soil fertility across a fi eld. Grain/fruit and forage productivity too become uniform commensurately. Precision techniques often envisage use of slightly or markedly lower quantities of fertilizers and irrigation to achieve same levels of crop productivity. The reduction in fertilizer usage delays or totally avoids deterioration of soils, ground water, aquifers, and general agro-environment. Precision techniques also provide higher profi ts to farmers. Overall, reduction in use of natural resources, improved grain/forage yield, and extra profi tability compared to farmer's traditional procedures hold the key to its rapid acceptance in most agricultural regions of the world.

During past decade, rapid improvements have occurred in precision techniques. Improvization of GPS-guided farm machinery, sensors, data capture, soil fertility mapping procedures, and GPS-guided variable-rate techniques have been marked. The spread of precision techniques into different agricultural belts and evaluation of its advantages have received the greatest attention. Precision technique is most recent among the agronomic procedures exposed to farmers/researchers. Field evaluations across different continents suggest it could be a very popular and profi table technology in the near future.

This book, titled Precision Farming, is introductory. It begins with a discussion on historical aspects, provides brief descriptions on techniques, and enlists advantages as well as constraints that infl uence the adoption and spread of precision farming in different continents. Chapter 2 provides details on intricate instrumentation, their functioning, and advantages that accrue during precision farming. Chapter 3 forms the centerpiece of this book. It deals with the infl uence of precision farming approaches on soil fertility, nutrient dynamics, and productivity of various crops. The spread of precision farming methods into different geographic regions and profi tability are discussed in detail in Chapter 4. A brief discussion about the future course of precision farming approaches appears in the last chapter.

This book on precision techniques is concise and provides valuable information on instrumentation and methodology. It encompasses lucid discussions about the impact of precision techniques on soil fertility, nutrient dynamics, and crop productivity. It is most useful to students, researchers, and professors involved in various aspects of agriculture.