Precision farming in Europe entails site specific farming.
Present farming methods mainly involve the uniform planting of a field with one crop, although the primary characteristics for crop planting within an agricultural field often vary greatly. The soil characteristics of a field are usually not uniform but vary according to topography and parent material (soil building factors). As a result there are differences in water supply, nutrient availability, and potential leaching of fertilizers and pesticides which in turn lead to differences in crop yields.
Precision farming is an attempt to adapt to specific differences within fields and so to avoid over- or under supplying the plants.
The production related application of fertilizers and plant protection agents is reduced thus optimizing yield.
The basis for precision farming is the parcelling of the agricultural field into smaller units ( grid cells) to
which a whole battery of information can be assigned. After evaluating and drawing up cultivation plans a tailored management plan can be set up. Since present maps do not show such highly detailed
information, this data can be determined and evaluated with such modern methods as GPS (Global Positioning System), GIS (Geographic Information System), airplane or satellite carried remote sensing data, soil
The procedure is presented in simplified form in figure 1:
First the data are obtained. Here already present data such as soil analyses, yield data,
climatic data etc. are incorporated into the results. There follows an intensive evaluation of the data and the drawing up of application maps. In the next step this knowledge is applied to all
cultivation processes with the aid of the machines designated for precision farming. Finally the yields are determined and these data are in turn added to the data collection, thus closing the
In essence the necessary farming knowledge has to be translated into appropriate
management strategies, as has been done in farming practice for centuries – however, using the modern techniques available today.
GPS: Precision farming is mainly bassed on information on the exact location of the application
areas. The initial survey of the parcels (grid cells) must be differentiated from the permanent position determination of the vehicles in use. The determination of location is usually through
GPS (Global Positioning System), charge free for the user. The average position accuracy is 15 m, but accuracies within centimeter range are possible. Since the price of GPS receivers
increases greatly with the accuracy of location determination, so called differential GPS receivers (DGPS) with localization accuracies of <1 m to 3 m are usually employed in farming. GPS Glossary
The use of DGPS receivers in agricultural vehicles with the application of further sensors provides the following possibilities:
the recording of driven distances
automatic pilot of vehicles (for night use or dust trails)
to determine yield as a function of management area
determination of soil properties, plant characteristics, and soil water content etc.
location specific soil cultivation
location specific sowing and cultivation of crops
GIS: Geographic Information Systems continue the thousands of years old tradition of putting
geographic features on maps, only in modern digitalized form. In precision farming GIS along with GPS has a central role. With this software (There are various suppliers) the variety of
data obtained can be determined, geographically presented, evaluated and put into application.