What is the basis of precision farming? Where do you begin? Do you start with soil scans that map the variation within a plot so the worst spots can be improved as much as possible? Or start with a map in your hand to make maximum use of the soil?
The 1st strategy is often used on sandy soil, the 2nd is more suitable for clay soil. Or are site-specific yield measurements the way to get information about the soil’s potential? I recently visited an arable farmer/contractor in the southernmost region of the Netherlands. He wanted to see a system that could automatically save continuous site-specific yield measurements of, initially, grain and onion fields. If you start stacking several of those maps and if you are able to comprehend the results, this will lead to ways to improve cultivation, he says. In addition to this, he would like to use soil scans and drone or satellite images where he deems those necessary for cultivation refinement.
This arable farmer/contractor participates in the Dutch NPPL-project for precision farming. Where other participants have already taken the first steps with the variable dosage of fertiliser and herbicides and have variably planted potatoes depending on the soil’s clay content, this participant still struggles with the connectivity. Before he can really start with precision farming and offer it to his clients, he wants to automate data streams. He wants to do this with data from the combine harvesters, the tractors, the sprayer and later, the information of the onion harvester (if the manufacturer succeeds in building a weighing sensor for yield mapping on it).
At the time of writing this blog, I can safely say that the NPPL project has taken flight. “NPPL did open some doors for me”, the contractor says. “The Fendt sprayer starts to communicate with the office, thanks to Cloudfarm by Dacom. It will be even better when the tillage data from all tractors are automated. Variation in tractive force provides important information about the soil’s structure and how much it has locally compacted.”
Dacom and Fendt are not supposed to be the only brands that can connect with Cloudfarm. Other brands will join, so that the measurements from the three Claas combines will automatically get to the right place and can be used in the intended manner.
“Look”, this arable farmer says, “we now have the momentum to take steps. When we obtain these kinds of online solutions, when the practical aspects have been taken care of, then we can really start with precision farming. The practise tends to be more problematic than previously thought, but we are definitely taking steps in the right direction.”