Precision Farming from Space: GPS Technology Aiding the Development of More Efficient Field Management
Guest Post By Steve Massey
Like, Peter Pan in a Pro Wrestling match or Ward Cleaver of “Leave it to Beaver” running an Indian Restaurant, at first glance satellite technology and farming don’t seem like they fit in the same place. The fact is Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) technology has emerged as a useful way for farmers to improve their farming practices and yearly yields.
Here’s a quick rundown of how GPS works to pin point location from space down here to earth. Basically, simple triangulation principles are used to determine precise location. Based on the confluence of a group of satellites’ signals, triangulation, or satellite ranging is used to calculate a location on earth by measuring the distance from each of several satellites. Being aware of the distances from the satellites to a point on the Earth’s surface allows a position to be accurately determined.
On most farms with this technological capability, system (GPS) and geographic information systems (GIS) are often utilized in concert. Together these two applications allow the farmer to marry real-time data processing with pinpoint position information. The result is an efficient utilization and analysis of large amounts of positional information.
GPS-based technology in modern farming are being used in areas such as farm planning, field mapping, soil sampling, tractor guidance, crop scouting, variable rate applications, and yield mapping. Additionally, GPS gives farmers the power to effectively work during low visibility conditions in the field. They can now accomplish important field work in rain, dust, fog, and darkness.
In addition, previously it was hard for farmers to work with natural land variability and still maintain production techniques. A farmer was limited in his/her efficacy in coming up with the most beneficial soil and plant treatment plans which could have greatly served yield.
Precision agriculture through GPS and GIS technology allows for superior control of chemical dispersion, and more surgical application of herbicides, fertilizers, and pesticides. The offshoot benefit is lowering of costs, producing a better output, and also a more environmentally friendly farm.
Manufacturers of GPS technology for agricultural applications have honed several tools to help the everyday farmer and agribusiness generally, produce more with better efficiency. Farms of all sizes now use GPS-derived products to create an overall better operation.
We have mentioned that GPS can synthesize location data through GPS receivers. Practically speaking, this helps to map field boundaries, irrigation systems and potential areas of concern like diseased land or weeds. The unmatched pinpoint nature of GPS also gives the business owner the power to create precise mapping of fields including road locations and distances between important spots on the property. Advanced technology also gives the farmer the valuable ability to find the same specific locations in the field each season making it an easier task to get soil samples or oversee crop status.
About the author: Steve Massey has over 30 years of experience as an entrepreneur, investment banker and practicing lawyer in the State of Florida. Mr. Massey serves as the Chief Executive Officer of TractorExport.com as well as the Chief Executive Officer of Gulfstream Group, LLC which is involved in the export of used tractors for sale.