Increased integration of precision agriculture in North-American fields
David Schimmelpfennig of the US Department of Agriculture notes the benefits of soil moisture sensors and outlined the calculation of a typical operation of how small row-crop farms can implement precision techniques to enhance production.
The introduction and integration of high-tech tools in agriculture are increasingly transforming farmers productivity and the surrounding environment. The historical challenges faced by farmers - such as field and input management, excessive water use for irrigation, natural resource reduction, energy management, lack of proper infrastructure for remote areas - are rapidly being solved by expressive changes in agricultural techniques with the adoption and integration of precision agriculture.
One of the key contributors for precision agriculture development is the Internet of Things (IoT) technology, where physical objects are converted into smart objects by the interrelation of computing devices. These smart objects can be characterized as soil moisture sensors, drones, temperature controllers, and many other tools which have provided greater technical assistance to cropland management.
David Schimmelpfennig of the US Department of Agriculture notes the benefits of soil moisture sensors and outlined a calculation of how a typical operation of how small row-crop farms can implement precision techniques to enhance production.
Farmers who decide to implement precision agriculture technology consider farm size, yields, and market prices. According to the article, just in the U.S., 250,000 small corn farms are acquiring precision agriculture techniques. As an example, a family run business who owns an average sized farm of 70 acres across 3 fields, the ROI from introducing precision techniques averages $ 2,000 USD whereas implementation costs are around $1,400 USD.
Figure 1 shows the comparison of costs versus savings for the implementation of precision techniques on small corn farms within U.S. standards. According to National Geographic, the costs are due to hiring labor (to apply the technology) and extra machinery and equipment.
Figure 1: Comparison of financial costs and savings in precision techniques acquisition by small corn farmers in the U.S. The result shows a positive balance on savings, such as mapping, VRT, and guidance systems.
The positive balance of savings allows farmers to invest in other techniques such as more mapping and guidance for making smarter decisions. The VRT (Variable Rate Technology) is the highest savings as it optimizes inputs and wastes such as seeds, water, fertilizers, pesticides, etc.
Sensoterra’s wireless soil moisture sensors are specialized in remote soil moisture monitoring for agricultural applications. The sensors are designed for the field and are easy to install, with installation typically taking only a few minutes. The sensors provide hourly data readings accessible in the free Sensoterra mobile app or customer portal. They send the data wirelessly using LoRa technology and can be placed and moved across all fields. With these techniques, farmers gain more control over their fields, becoming less dependent on the physical presence and more attentive to trends and variations.
Meanwhile, wireless control over fields allows growers to access the exact conditions of soil moisture in the root zone. By achieving optimum soil health conditions, increases in yield can be reached as well as a reduction of water consumption of up to 10-30%.
The positive balance becomes even more visible with Sensoterra probes, where installation becomes so simple that doesn’t require additional costs. After downloading the free Sensoterra app, growers can simply scan the unique QR code on the side of the probe, set probe settings (including soil type, and location) then place or hammer the probes into the ground. In addition, farmers receive free data readings (through Sensoterra’s app or open API) when acquiring the probes, reducing the required costs for software and technical support. In other words, the Sensoterra solution reduces the common additional costs of labor, usually required for implementation of precision technology.
Moreover, Sensoterra’s competitive prices aligned with ROI reached in just one crop cycle have been proving that precision agriculture techniques can be easily implemented by all types of growers - from small independent farmers to big agricultural organizations. As in the case of Werner Farms, a family owned and operated olive orchard in the Central Valley in California (USA) mentioned,
"Sensoterra is an affordable solution that bridges the gap between independent growers, and large agricultural businesses,”
John Werner - Werner Farms
To read Werner Farms’ full article plus several other case studies visit our customer cases.
Sensoterra is a leading IoT ag tech provider, developing wireless soil moisture sensors. Currently, Sensoterra has over 5,000 sensors in the ground, globally, and was founded in 2015, with HQ based in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
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Caroline is a Soil Data Manager at Sensoterra. Previously, she worked as a laboratory analyst, responsible for data analysis of roots and soil, identifying pesticide contamination and plant accumulation. Her background is in Environmental Science, with a Masters's degree in Water & Environment from Radboud University.Get in touch