How a Digital Farm works?
Digital Farming applies new technologies like data science, sensors, drones, automation systems, digital communication channels in the field, which help the farmers to make better optimal decisions, increase their productivity and nutrition of the crops, and reduce wastes. It provides peace of mind to the consumers as well as farmers with an increased market value.
What is digital farming
Digital farming is one of the revolutionary methods used in the field of agriculture to apply digital technologies to enable the automation of sustainable processes and to create knowledge based production systems.
Some Examples which has enabled Digital Agriculture
The agricultural sector has been now lifted up to a whole new extent due to these emerging technologies and has created a lot of opportunities for increasing productivity and quality.
- Sensors & Drones
- Satellite imagery
- Weather measurement
- Animal monitoring
- Geospatial monitoring
- Precision agriculture
- Artificial Intelligence
- Automated Irrigation System
Challenges in Agriculture
Digital farming has the potential to provide farmers the useful information they require and create opportunities for increasing their productivity.
Some of the challenges they face during farming are:
- Variable temperatures
- Changes in rainfall patterns
- Extreme weather conditions
- Water shortage
Consumers on the other side also demand high quality products and they are becoming more informed and aware of the products they buy. They want sustainable products which are fulfilled by Digital farming technologies.
Requirements of a Digital Farm
Digital Farming is such an industry which is continuously improving and is committed to develop further. And to run efficiently it requires highly efficient machines which are compatible with the digital infrastructure of the farm and which can contribute to the optimization of the production process.
Some requirements for the digital farming machines are:
- It should send and receive information using appropriate sensors and communication hardwares
- It could facilitate automated operations
- It should enable optimal utilization of the machinery
- It should assist the driver
Apart from this the manufacturers of the farm should provide data for optimized machinery settings and should facilitate machine to machine communication and should collect data from the data management systems.
Working of a Digital Farm
Digital farming basically works on the principle of Precision Farming and there are numerous technologies which have been developed to tackle each and every stage of the farming practice.
The working process of the farm is divided into various stages which are processed through different technologies as briefed below.
- Land preparation tools – Soil information systems provide the farmers to understand the nature of their soil by examining various factors such as soil fertility, texture, moisture retention capability and root zone depth. It also examines the land and soil from macro points apart from ground level providing an aerial view of their farm and to gather information which help them stay one step ahead of their problems.
- Guidance systems – GPS technology plays a massive role in the development of guidance systems and it enables GPS guided seeders, tractors and sprayers to progress the Agricultural sector. Farmers get help in irrigation and cultivation of their crops with accuracy due to these precise farming technologies which enables them to grow more sustainable crops round the year with increased yield and reduced stress. It also increases the efficiency of the whole process and reduces the burden of the farmers.
- Yield Monitoring System – It is also a variant of GPS systems which provides information about grain loads, moisture levels, and auto cut width. This monitoring helps the farmers to maximize the profitability of their crops by identifying the weak links.
Apart from all these, there are some other technologies included to cover the whole process of the farming practice. They are:
- Data Integration systems
- Water Management systems
- Variable Rate technology
- Flow and Application control
- Detection of Pests, Diseases and Weeds
- Crop Scouting
Digi farming is a combination of precision agriculture and smart farming which is implemented through softwares and hardwares. Smart devices are connected as a part of the IoT network. When a hardware transfers data through a chain of networks, it is referred to as a smart device and it then becomes a part of IoT.
IoT consists of many smart devices such as Drones, Sensors, Robots, and Cameras which are installed in a farm to record data, and these data are analyzed by an analytical dashboard. These data are related to the field only as in financial gain or loss, and they cannot manage the overall farm activities.
Drones and Satellite imagery uses cameras in them to capture images for a particular area of a field, which is analyzed from the dashboard to which it is connected. Farmers look into the issue through these images and then decide what repair should be done in regard with these captured images.
Sensors record typical things such as air temperature, wind speed, rainfall, or solar energy. And again these data are analyzed by the farmers and they do as per the requirement.
Digital farming is not a one machine kind of thing. It is a network of smart connected devices and each device has a role to play. And the basic role of all the devices is to gather the data from the farm about irrigation or fertilizer requirements, sunlight, weather or soil conditions, air temperature, etc. These data are then processed by the farmers who are acknowledging every data through his device or system where he analyzes them, and then decides what is to be done and does the needful.
Benefits of Digital Farming
Digital farming uses new and advanced technologies which are integrated into a system to enable the farmers to improve the food quality by making optimal decisions at a correct time which is only possible if they are provided with such informational data at such specific times.
Digital farming has advanced sensors and Robots to implement the decisions made with greater accuracy and can get real time feedback at the same time.
Below are stated some advantages of using Digital farming.
- Makes agriculture more productive, consistent, resource efficient.
- Opens up new opportunities and allows sharing of information across the traditional industry
- Increased yield
- Targeted Irrigation
- Improved Land management
- Improving Fish farming
- Improve supply chains
- Monitors waste production
- Improved integration
- Giving the power of information enabling economic growth and decent work
- Advancing Sustainable Development goals
- Availability and sustainable management of water
- Promotes sustainable Land ecosystem
- Reduced chemical run-off
Barriers in Digital Farming
Digitization is easy but to make it available to all the farmers and to implement it so that it does not bring any negative impacts is very critical.
Below are some of the challenges in digital farming.
- Risk of protecting the data or IP rights
- Reduced labour intensity causing economic disruption in areas with high number of labours
- Security Challenge and Risks of Hacking which would damage the crops and contaminate them
- Development Costs being high
- Details of long term benefits are not available on hand
Future of Farming
Agriculture has now been so much advanced with the use of technology and digi farming has brought more value to these technologies in a more performed way.
The future of Agriculture is very bright as these technologies will preserve the yield of crops in a more sustainable way so as to feed the growing population and help the farmers to make more optimal decisions.
With the advent of IoT and its application on Agriculture will lead to more connected farms which will collect required information automatically and solve them too through various smart connected devices.
Technologies are developing more and more making the environment more dynamic, which will bring lots of opportunities for the farmers to increase the yield with minimum resources and wastage.
Digital technologies are adopted by the farmers at an accelerating pace as it helps them maximize the output through very low input. Farming practices require huge amounts of data to understand their farm better and manage them to increase the productivity and nutritional value. The digi farming technique will help the farmers in facing all the problems which creates a hindrance in their paths of farming. The farmers can better manage their farms at the pace of their home and can save both money and time.
These farming practices include self driving tractors, precision farming techniques and Internet of Things Sensors which has enhanced the Agriculture industry in many ways and also it is one of the most efficient ways to feed the increasing world population and tackle the demands of high quality foods.
Besides all the challenges of the farming practice such as Climate change, scarcity of water, pollution, reducing biodiversity, population growth, and High costs, Digital Farming is optimized to deal with all of these and improve the way of growing foods on the farm.