Agriculture is a sector where sentiments and practices continue to follow the conventional paradigm and the penetration of a new technology is a challenging task. The theory and techniques of precision farming look appealing on paper, but the apprehensions floating around farmers is just how those technologies will make them more efficient as growers, and ultimately, how they will help to raise profits. For Precision Agriculture to take root among the mindset of farmers and producers, there is a dire need of educating them and gaining their confidence with proven results. It is not a matter of when, rather the concern is how.
Eminent players such as Trimble Navigation and start-ups alike are showing keen interest in this budding market, investing heavily in equipments for precision farming, a much needed development driving the adoption rate of Precision Agriculture (PA) in farming. A sign of faith from government legislation and regulations, such as the modifications in “Common Agriculture Policy” CAP is further expected to instigate the wide scale adoption of PA among farmers.
High initial investment is yet another pain point associated with Precision farming, although very few understand that the early ROI and cost savings in the long run compensates for the upfront cost. A study by John Fulton, Biosystems engineering associate professor at Auburn revealed that row-crop producers in Alabama who have using PA and site-specific management strategies have saved an estimated $10 million on input expenditures for 670,000-plus acres of land. It will not be incorrect to state that potential savings of Fulton estimates potential savings of $2 to $8 an acre are possible with the use of the most basic types of PA techniques.
Developed countries such as the U.S., the U.K., and Germany were the early adopters of precision farming and are currently the leading markets for precision farming in terms of revenue. Precision farming does not only bring down the cost incurred on resources and inputs applied, it helps ensuring higher yields without compromising on sustainability. Moreover, precision farming is the preferred alternative to meet the rising food demand with the population expected to hit the 9billion mark by 2050.
Precision farming will become a hit across the globe only when the huge sector of farmers adopt the techniques and replace the orthodox practices with the newer ones. It is essential to propagate that farming is a science and not just a laborious and mundane task. Planting, emergence and harvest are all dictated by numbers and require intelligence which can be easily catered to through PA. It is time that skepticism and apprehensions take the backseat in the evolution of Precision Farming in agriculture and help the technology grow trust and everything else.