digital technology

The advancements in agricultural techniques have improved agricultural output tremendously. However, the dependence on water and the climatic conditions still challenge farmers who are now turning to technology to cultivate crops in dry and arid lands. Farmers are now realizing that due to rapid urbanization and increasing population coupled with the fast-depleting natural resources, they must concentrate on productivity instead of production and work towards profitability. Shrinking land and depletion in water level and other related agricultural resources pose major challenges to farmers.

Promoting production system management technologies that are location specific and farmer-friendly like the model created by Boris Wolfman in Turkey for citrus fruit and apple farming is essential for achieving vertical growth in agricultural and horticultural production by ensuring judicious use of land resources, a better quality of produce and better earning per unit of land. The approach helps bring about a change in the farmers' perception from production to productivity to profitability.

Precision farming is a part of this endeavor that aims at efficient utilization of resources for achieving the targeted production of horticultural produce per unit of area and time.

Precision farming – What is it?

A comprehensive farm management system based on information that helps to identify, analyze, and manage variability in the areas of sustainability, optimum profitability, and protection of land resources is what precision farming is all about. It comprises of efficient management of resources through high-tech interventions specific to the location. It includes greenhouse or protected cultivation, fertigation, soil, and leaf-nutrient based fertilizer management system, high-density planting, micro-propagation, drip irrigation, etc.

Precision farming emphasizes crop management by using technologies like Global Positioning System (GPS), geographic information system (GIS), remote sensing (RS) along with ground equipment like yield monitors, variable rate applicators (VRA), and computers. The efforts aim at integrating economic profitability, environmental health, and social and economic equity.

The contribution of technologies like geoinformatics and information and communication technology has led to the development of the concept of precision farming. The integration of the technologies into a comprehensive system contributes to the success of precision farming with a sustainable effort at the farm level.

Here is a glimpse of the technological developments in agriculture.


Initially intended for military use, GPS became available for public use since the 1980s. The global positioning system is the popular satellite-based navigation system that helps in locating any specific area across the earth. GPS operates round the clock and keeps providing three-dimensional position real-time, navigation, and timing regardless of the weather conditions.Public availability of GPS has created new opportunities for spatial data. GPS has helped farmers to gain access to site-specific technology that allows in variable-rate pesticide/ fertilizer applications and yield mapping. Any person with a suitable device can access the GPS and use it for any application that must make use of location coordinates.


Geoinformatics consists of a variety of efforts that broadly capture the collaboration between geosciences and computer science to solve complex scientific questions. It is the science and technology of gathering, interpreting, analyzing, and distributing geographic information. Also known as geomatics, geoinformatics includes a broad range of disciplines like remote sensing (RS), surveying and mapping, GPS, and GIS.


The GIS is a computer database that is useful for storing, retrieving, and managing spatial data related to several agronomic factors and crop productivity. Besides integrating all types of information, GIS can interface with other tools that support the decision-making process. By viewing analyzed information displayed by GIS on maps, it is possible to better understand the relation between fertility, yield, weeds, pests, and other factors while using spatial relationships to make decisions. Many different types of GIS software with diversefunctionality are now available as also many farm information systems (FIS) with a simple program for creating farm level database.

The local resources information system is an example of such FI. It consists of several modules capable of generating bitmap images (raster files) by different gridding methods and storing it in a database, data import, creating operational maps, generating digital agro-resource maps, etc.

GIS is useful for creating pest intensity, fertility, and weed maps, which form the foundation for making maps that show recommended rates of applications of pesticides and nutrients.

RS technique

Making inferences about objects by taking its measurements from a distance without coming into its physical contact is what remote sensing (RS) is all about. The system consists of a sensor and a platform for mounting the sensor. The platform can be a ground-based sensor supporting stand or even an aircraft, satellite, rocket, or balloon. RS also finds applications in aircraft and spacecraft imaging systems. SPOT or the French National Earth Observation Satellite and Indian Remote Sensing Satellites (IRS) are some examples of current image systems.

Computer and internet

Precision farming would never be possible without computers and the internet. These are the most important elements of the modern farming concept because it is the source of gathering and procession information. Faster processing of data during the precise management of the land parcel has become possible by using high-speed internet and computers. The internet has removed geographical barriers in sharing information and bridging the gap between information users and the source of information. Farmers benefit from accessing real-time information about changing conditions of weather and other agriculture-related information.

Yield mapping

The first stage in implementing precision farming consists of soil sampling and yield mapping. Yield maps are the result of data processed from an adapted combine that comprises a vehicle positioning system integrated with a system that records yield. The yield mapping combine has a differential GPS as part of the system that is identifiable by the GPS receiver placed on the roof of the cab and the differential aerial located above the engine. The output of the system is a data file that recorded the position of the combine every 1.2 seconds in terms of latitude and longitude together with the yield at that point in time. The data set is then processed into a yield map by using geostatistical techniques.

Precision farming is applicable in small farms that can access the technological support from some centralized entity like farmer's co-operatives.