in the city of Montreal, we had the opportunity to talk and share with researchers in order to understand the moment in which this discipline is living, its possibilities, needs and challenges.
It is evident to us the need to generate technologies capable of providing results, almost in real time, for farmers, regardless of their place (or size) in the food production chain. Similarly, sustainability is one of the main themes and the driving force behind scientific research in the coming years.
That is why we decided to ask specialists in different areas, from their experience and vision, what should be the considerations to be taken to design the best solution in precision agriculture.
Philippe Vigneault, from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, believes that the best solution for precision agriculture to be fully integrated into the dynamics of agriculture is connectivity. He also considered that farmers are not reluctant to make use of the technology, they simply have not seen real results that would give them the confidence to decide to implement these methods. Therefore, in his view, it is necessary to provide farmers with technology that is useful to them and that convinces them that it will deliver results.
Ian Yule, professor of Precision Farming at Massey University in New Zealand, believes that the farmer should go to the beach while everything is done automatically in the field. However, in order to get there, there is a lot of work to be done and that is where precision farming has a relevant role to play.
For Ian Yule, farming is about information, understanding how farmers use information to make decisions and being able to translate that into systems and technology that can process that information. In his view, the scientific community needs to pay more attention to the thought process that a farmer goes through during the development of his crop.
Gerald Blasch, a research associate at Newcastle University and a specialist in soil mapping and precision agriculture, believes that the future of precision agriculture will depend on technology, such as sensors and algorithms that help generate reports that explain in a simple and detailed way the data interpreted through artificial intelligence, which should help producers considerably reduce their work in the field.
Terry Griffin, agricultural economist and cropping systems economist at Kansas State University believes that automation can help make life easier, in the case of agriculture, the implementation of technology generates economic benefits, reduces inputs and increases profit for the farmer.
In Griffin’s view, precision farming technologies such as yield monitors, grid soil sampling and variable metering technologies need to be automated so that the benefit to farmers can begin to be more immediate.
Researcher Javier Tardaguila, associate professor in viticulture at the University of La Rioja and researcher in charge of the TELEVITIS Group at the Institute of Vine and Wine Sciences in Spain, speaks from his experience about what could be the best solution in precision agriculture.
For Tardaguila, first of all it is important to have knowledge of the depth of the soil, monitor the environment to develop growth or disease prediction models, as well as detailed knowledge of the plant, such as its state of health or its production capacity.
This would have an impact on cost reduction, improve crop efficiency and make it possible to be more environmentally friendly.
Johan Perret, Professor of Soil Science and Director of the Center for Precision Agriculture at Earth University in Costa Rica, considers that if the characteristics of the soil where the crop is grown are not taken into account, it is not possible to optimize the production system.
On the other hand, the detailed knowledge of the crop being worked on, together with the importance of the climate of the area, the obtaining of multispectral information with the help of drones and satellite images to obtain emissivity measurements, form a package of information and knowledge of great value for decision making that is only possible thanks to precision agriculture.