The 14th edition of the International Conference on Precision Agriculture ICPA 2018, highlighted some of the most important research on agriculture carried out worldwide. The conference, organized by the Sociedad Internacional de Agricultura de Precisión (ISPA), took place in the city of Montreal, Canada, during the month of June 2018. ICPA 2018 was the perfect setting for the presentation of emerging technologies, and a great opportunity for society members to discuss how Precision Agriculture is being implemented in other countries.
This was the second time that AV3 AEROVISUAL attended the Conference as members of ISPA. In this last edition, we had the opportunity to meet with scientists, crop consultants, advisors, agronomists, producers, service providers and scientists working with artificial intelligence and machine learning applied to Precision Agriculture.
For AV3 AEROVISUAL, it was a great opportunity to connect, learn, share experiences and create content that helps us understand everything that is going on in Precision Agriculture today. During those days we were able to talk to some of the main actors in the field; scientists who have been involved in precision agriculture since its early stages who also have a clear vision of its possibilities, needs and challenges. In addition, and as a highlight of the conference, we were honored to have our Managing Director Pedro Olivares Sáinz as ISPA Representative for Mexico.
It is clear to us the need to create technologies capable of delivering results, almost in real time, to farmers; regardless of their place (or size) in the food production chain. Sustainability is one of the main themes and the driving force behind scientific research in the coming years. After 200 scientific talks, 30 interventions from industry representatives and 20 keynote speakers; we are excited to recognize our place on the world map of Precision Agriculture.
Dr. Nicolas Tremblay – Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada AAFC Plant Nutrition and Crop Management Specialist at the Horticultural Research and Development Centre
ISPA member since the early years of the Society, Nicolas Tremblay talked about the vision of spatial variability that used to permeate the scientific view of Precision Agriculture; he also spoke about how it has not been possible to fully address the needs of the users.
Nicolas Tremblay, former president of ISPA, believes that precision agriculture has to provide solutions that are relevant for farmers and food producers. To achieve this goal, he believes it is necessary to access appropriate data, achieve better data collection experience, find the right relationships, and provide useful answers for people working in the field.
On the other hand, Tremblay encourages the community to find a balance between sustainability, productivity and the economy of the industry; to do innovative things, to learn from the mistakes of other groups and, most importantly, to develop a sense of thinking outside the box.
Dr. Terry Griffin, Agricultural Economist and Crop Systems Economist, Kansas State University.
Terry Griffin, who has been a very active member of the Society from the beginning and a consistent evangelist for Precision Agriculture, believes that the data generated at the crop level, combined with the data collected by equipment manufacturers, retailers and consumers; is going to be a big issue in the years to come.
From Dr. Griffin’s point of view, Precision Agriculture technologies such as yield monitors, grid soil sampling, variability and frequency technologies have not instantly improved the lives of farmers. He believes that a great deal of management capacity is needed to make proper use of the data. Therefore, it is necessary to make data technologies and the decisions made based on them more automated.
Dr. Johan Perret – Professor of Soil Management and Precision Agriculture at EARTH University, Costa Rica.
Johan Perret, whose main focus of study has been the sustainable management of soil and the efficient use of fertilizers and water in agriculture, shared his opinion on the role that Precision Agriculture should play in providing solutions to farmers. He believes that it is necessary to have criteria to make better decisions in order to reduce the costs of agriculture.
Perret urges not to leave small and medium producers behind in the progress of agriculture and out of reach of new technologies; for him, Precision Agriculture must be seen, not as an end in itself, but as a means to have a sustainable agriculture.
Philippe Vigneault, B.Sc. – Agriculture Canada.
Philippe Vigneault, instructor in the workshop “Operation of UAVs and data analysis for precision agriculture applications” given at the 14th ICPA, shared his opinion on the subject and the importance of including farmers and producers in the Precision Agriculture process. From his point of view, the ultimate solution is connectivity and the development and implementation of technologies that can collect data and provide accurate, immediate and useful results to the end user.
For Vigneault, “farmers are our main client”, therefore their participation at this type of events is crucial if we want to have a better perspective on the real needs of the industry.
Dr. Javier Tardaguila, Primary researcher of the TELEVITIS Group at the Institute of Vine and Wine Science, and Professor of Precision Viticulture of La Rioja University in Spain.
Javier Tardaguila, who is also passionate about viticulture, stated that it is very important to achieve a greater knowledge of the depth of the soil in order to develop models to predict growth or diseases. In his opinion, it is necessary to make the information obtained from Precision Agriculture technologies accessible to the end user, simpler, faster and cheaper. For Dr. Tardaguila it is crucial to bring these technologies closer to the farmer and to demonstrate why they are useful and valuable.
Dr. Ian Yule – Professor of Precision Agriculture at Massey University in New Zealand and President of the International Society of Precision Agriculture.
Dr. Ian Yule, believes that the long-term trend is sustainability and high quality food production. In his view, the first step in achieving this goal is data processing and the ability to turn that data into information.
According to Yule, current president of ISPA, it is essential to value “the way farmers use their brains” in order to understand the processes within agriculture, since it is precisely in this process that scientists must pay more attention. In the near future, he would like to see farmers spending more relaxed time, being economically and environmentally sustainable.