Smart Farming: How to unlock soil, plant and weather data

The agricultural landscape is constantly changing, as are the conditions in which crops are being grown all across the world. While data has always played a major role in determining what we plant, how we care for it, and what our harvests yield, today’s smartest farm relies on modern ingenuity to achieve maximum yields and optimal, healthy soils. 

The smartest solutions to farming don’t have to involve extreme budgets or massive sprawls of arable fields. Though challenges for implementation of various techniques may exist, simple, easy-to-adopt solutions are abundant and available to most farmers across the globe. Our team at Paul-Tech will hope to answer a few of the most important questions for the modern farmer:

  1. What are the exact benefits of smart farming techniques and solutions? Comprehension of these benefits will allow you to adopt the most suitable solutions.
  2. What tools and techniques are available to achieve these goals? You’ll discover a broad spectrum of multiple solutions to make the most informed decision.
  3. How can I begin implementing smart farming practices on my own land? We’ll help recommend the best method for achieving maximum data at the lowest effort.

Smart farming is modern farming. Let’s dive into the benefits of these tools first, and see how data thrives as the uniting bond between each.

🌱 Check it out: Soil, weather and satellite stations –– a comparison

The benefits of smart farming solutions in agriculture

Agriculture may be varied across the globe, but the available solutions for achieving a stronger farm are unified. Though some solutions may be more widely available in specific regions, individual smart farming techniques can be chosen to achieve desired levels of data and success anywhere.

Depending on your unique needs, the tools and techniques you choose to implement stand to bring:

1. Maximised productivity through enhanced yield forecasting:

Utilising predictive analytics, powered by big data, farmers can forecast their yields and production with greater accuracy. This empowers farmers to effectively plan and manage resources, ultimately maximising productivity on their farms.

2. Real-time decision making for immediate intervention:

Data facilitates real-time decision-making by continuously analysing field and equipment data. This enables farmers to promptly intervene when necessary, minimising potential losses and optimising operations.

3. Extended equipment lifespan through optimised usage:

Proactive use of data offers the enhanced lifespan of farming equipment, by reducing downtime and optimising productivity. Precise knowledge of when and what is needed cuts the amount of equipment usage considerably on farms, especially at a larger scale.

4. Sustainable practices through data-backed optimization:

Big data optimisation, employing smart metrics and analytics, significantly reduces water, fertiliser and energy/fuel consumption. This process fosters more sustainable farming practices while maintaining or increasing productivity levels.

5. Profitability through data-driven decision making:

Leveraging smart farming solutions brings in actionable data, and allows for strategic planning and resource allocation in real-time, ultimately contributing to increased profitability for farmers of any type, as well as healthier fields and crops.

6. Efficiency through optimised farming practices:

The analysis of big data identifies correlations between field conditions, weather, and nutrient data, enabling more efficient irrigation, fertilisation, and harvesting practices. This optimisation enhances the overall productivity of a farm.

7. Consistent supply through demand prediction:

Smart farming practices allow for prediction data, showing the potential demand for agricultural inputs like seeds and fertilisers, enabling suppliers to prepare for demand spikes and ensure a consistent yield to effectively meet market needs.

8. Reduction of input waste and costs:

Utilising data will prevent waste at all stages of growth and post-harvest deposits, often saving farmers tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in wasted input costs. The optimisation of nutrient and moisture data offers farmers a more sustainable and cost-effective method of farming.

9. Increased yields and productivity through healthier soil and crops:

Innovative farming practices and equipment may bring optimisation all year long, resulting in healthier soils and effective use of nutrients and moisture levels. These techniques can reduce the time required to harvest, increase crop nutrient levels and more effectively utilise the stored resources in soils through Nutrient Use Efficiency planning.

Key factors for smart farming practices

Choosing the best solutions for your individual farm and needs is crucial to maximising the success of your on-going smart-farming practices. The data you access and how you access it should strive to incorporate the following:

Real-time and consistent data

The adage of ‘better late than never’ need not apply to a modern smart farm. Take advantage of solutions that offer real-time data and suggestions to efficiently input your decision making. With the understanding that smart farms have no off-season, you’ll be more effective in knowing what your fields and crops need at all points of any season.

Accurate and thorough data

Without a proper understanding of the precise nutrient, moisture and weather information that affects your farm, you’ll fall shy of meeting your goals and understanding how to strengthen your field optimisation. The solutions you choose to implement should have a proven track record of scientifically-backed data harvesting. 

Some solutions may offer larger amounts of nutrient, weather, satellite and moisture data. Finding the most cost-effective, hands-free and thorough solutions will help ensure your own satisfaction with smart farming practices, financially and strategically.

Top 3 technologies for today’s data-driven smart farm

This list is not comprehensive but strives to show the most common and easy-to-implement technologies for smart farming practices. All of the solutions are available to most farmers across the globe, but each varies in what it is able to offer. 

Implementing weather stations on your smart farm

Weather stations may provide real-time, historical data on temperature, humidity, rainfall, wind speed and other meteorological factors. The key benefits of using weather stations often include:

  1. Precision irrigation: Helps to optimise irrigation scheduling based on real-world weather conditions, reducing water-usage waste and optimising crop yields through proper hydration.
  2. Disease and pest management: Enables farmers to better anticipate and mitigate the impact of weather-related diseases and pest outbreaks through efficient interventions.
  3. Crop planning and management: Facilitation of better decision-making in crop choices, planting and harvesting based on forecasted weather patterns.

Best practice: Weather stations should be strategically placed across fields to capture variations in microclimates. Proper stations should allow for the integration of data software to help automate decision making. Proper calibration and maintenance of weather stations helps to ensure their continued accuracy and effectiveness.

Soil sampling for smart nutrient and input management

Soil sampling involves the manual collection and analysis of soil to assess nutrient and pH levels, texture and various other properties. The key benefits of soil sampling include:

  1. More precise fertilisation: Farmers may tailor their fertiliser applications based on nutrient deficiencies, and optimise the uptake of nutrients by crops to both save money and increase production.
  2. Soil health monitoring: Sampling helps track changes in soil quality over time, enabling proactive soil management practices for long-term health and productivity.
  3. Environmental sustainability: Sampling also promotes sustainable farming practices by minimising the runoff of nutrients and leaching, reducing the overall negative impact of additional nutrients.

Best practice: Follow a systematic sampling plan, considering factors such as field size, soil variability and crop history. Use proper sampling tools and techniques to collect representative soil samples. Interpret soil test results in conjunction with crop nutrient requirements and agricultural recommendations.

Utilising satellite imagery across your smart farm’s fields

Satellite imagery often provides high-res images of farmland, allowing farmers to better monitor overall crop health, assess the conditions of their fields and make more informed decisions. The key benefits of satellite imagery include:

  1. Crop monitoring: These images enable farmers to detect early signs of stress, disease and nutrient deficiencies by facilitating more timely interventions. 
  2. Yield prediction: Satellite imagery supports yield forecasting by analysing crop growth patterns and identifying areas of underperformance and loss. 
  3. Input allocation: Using satellite images also helps in the optimisation of resource allocation by identifying areas with varied productivity levels.

Best practice: Choose satellite image providers that offer frequent updates and high-resolution images suitable for crop monitoring. Integrate satellite imagery with precision agriculture tools for automated analysis and decision-making. Back-up your satellite data with field data to ensure continued reliability.

Paul-Tech: Real-time & accurate monitors for soil, satellite and weather data

If you’re left wondering which solutions may be best for your farm’s data-driven desires, we’re thrilled to introduce you to our comprehensive solution. Paul-Tech soil stations accurately monitor a host of vital factors in your field’s health, including: 

  • NDVI
  • Total stored nutrient levels
  • Availability of nutrients for plants
  • Plant active hydration and available moisture levels
  • Soil temperature
  • Air temperature
  • Relative humidity above and at ground level
  • Forecasted local weather
  • And more!

Farmers across the UK, Estonia, Lithuania and the Nordics have trusted and used Paul-Tech soil stations for many reasons over the years. With a stellar support team and free, personal demonstration, our soil stations are easily installed following a smart installation assessment of 100-200 measurements, taken from each field, to determine the best placement for every station.

Paul-Tech soil stations run themselves and provide zero disturbance to surrounding land and plants –– solar-powered units require zero charging and communicate with the cloud to safely back-up your farm’s data each day. 

Our team believes that high-tech doesn’t have to mean complicated, and that sustainable, smart farming practices create healthier, profitable farms. If you’re looking to:

  • Increase your yields by up to 30%
  • Maintain healthy, efficient soil
  • Decrease input costs and fertiliser waste by up to 70%
  • Make real-time decisions when they matter most

Paul-tech has you covered. Book a free demo today to see Paul-Tech in-action on your farm.

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