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Closing the Digital Farming Loop, or Agricultural Troubleshooting at Its Best

In this article, we share our vision of a full-cycle agricultural service offering based on years of experience in digital farming

Updated on October 19, 2021

9 mins read

It’s no surprise that the agricultural industry has started to pull every digital lever. It helps improve yields, cut food waste, and make agriculture more lucrative. Indeed, agriculture, which is one of our core areas of expertise, aims at helping farmers and agricultural companies plan wisely and move in a stepwise manner along the sowing to harvesting journey. We have already told you about precision farming, which is only a small part of the overall system of digital farming. Today, we will introduce you to the full-cycle digital farming loop. Learn everything you might want to know about how Intellias helps agricultural companies worldwide establish and maintain seamless performance:

  • Digital farming: The choice of the industry’s cream of the crop
  • Why we collect digital agriculture data
  • Look further and see beyond with digital farming technology
  • Why have digital farming systems analyzed the soil?
  • Precision mapping in digital agriculture
  • Digital farming systems for yield monitoring and forecasting
  • Automate your processes with advanced digital farming machinery
  • This is an ecosystem: No digital farming element is unimportant

Digital farming: The choice of the industry’s cream of the crop

What is the difference between a good and a great agrobusiness? A good agricultural company moves along the business journey instinctively, reacting to external factors that affect performance. Meanwhile, great agricultural companies can predict each step in advance. A splendid combination of data, machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT) technologies, and cloud computing grants them such an opportunity. Many companies are now turning to digital farming. The size of the agricultural analytics market, which was $585 million in 2018, is expected to reach $1.3 billion by 2023. Such a rise in the niche’s financial well-being has been heavily supported by the congruence between tech and life sciences companies.

There are many examples of fruitful cooperation. One of the most vivid ones is the Amazon–Bayer coalition. Bayer AG, a German multinational pharmaceutical and life sciences company, entered the agricultural market long ago. Having experience behind their back, it was not a surprise that they decided to grasp a digital farming opportunity when they ran into one. Back in 2013, Bayer purchased Climate FieldView, the industry-leading digital farming platform from The Climate Corporation. Bayer’s executives have demonstrated business prowess by anticipating the colossal impact digital solutions would have on the agricultural industry in a decade’s time. Having leased their infrastructure from Amazon Web Services (AWS), Bayer managed to expand Climate FieldView’s operational coverage by tapping into a mammoth data pool gathered by AWS.

The principle at work is clear. Climate FieldView is essentially a data hub where farmers submit and collect information on weather, planting, seeds, yields, spraying, and virtually every other type of data an agricultural business needs to blossom. Taking data from multiple sources including farms, agricultural companies, and tech vendors, the platform represents more than a viable solution to copious farming issues, including crop protection, weather forecasting, and precision harvesting automation. Here’s how it works:
Closing the Digital Farming Loop, or Agricultural Troubleshooting at Its Best

It seems like the digital farming formula, embedded in Climate FieldView, works pretty well, as there are many more tech–life sciences couples entering the digital farming domain. Besides Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, Alibaba, and Microsoft have also started their own agricultural journeys according to Grain. Agrochemical corporations are trying to keep up with the pace. Aside from Bayer, Syngenta, BASF, Corteva, FMC, and others have decided to step up their digital agriculture game. Their decision is easy to understand: the algorithm is simple, and it turns the agricultural industry upside down, allowing companies and farms to forecast what’s been historically left to the mercy of nature and fate, changing the agricultural sector forever.

Digital farming, a newly sprung branch of agriculture, is expected to be worth $10.23 billion by 2025, which amounts to a CAGR of 14.2%. We are witnessing the establishment of a new digital agriculture platform with a unique data flow circle. Establishing such a data circle or entering an existing one requires copious data collection points to be installed, launched, tuned, and maintained properly. This is what Intellias agricultural package boils down to: We close the informational loop by letting you know everything you might want (and even not want) to know about your farm.

Why we collect digital agriculture data

Data collection in farming is all about prevention and not protection; it is about being proactive, not reactive. Scientists from the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at the University of Saskatchewan have conducted a two-year experiment in which they surveyed more than 100 farms that started using big data in their daily practices. The study aimed at defining the potential benefits of big data and artificial intelligence in agrobusinesses. The scientists represented their findings in a Likert scheme.

Perceived benefits of big data use by surveyed experts (% of responses, n = 81)
Closing the Digital Farming Loop, or Agricultural Troubleshooting at Its Best

Source: University of Saskatchewan

Research shows that digital technology in agriculture renders farming more sustainable, as data delivered in a timely manner makes it easier for farmers to perform on many fronts. Cost-efficiency is one of them, as big data improves decision-making and risk management, especially when it comes to crop protection. For many farmers around the world, protecting crops is an ever-evolving challenge. From diseases to insects to local wildlife, all crops are vulnerable to external forces. As a result, the methods farmers use to protect crops are constantly being refined and optimized. Gathering data has turned out to be the most efficient method of doing so, as it enables farmers to prevent issues and not react to them.

  1. Timely Information. Having the right information at the right time is crucial for crop management and protection. Knowing in advance that a nearby farm’s cornfields have been infected with Southern Rust (say we live in Arkansas) is priceless. It gives a farmer time to apply the right chemicals and prevent the crop from extermination.
  2. AI-driven diagnosis. AI can be used for spotting the early signs of disease. With the help of a single picture captured by a smartphone camera, AI software can identify disease, pest damage, or a healthy plant. The faster farmers can diagnose problems, the quicker they can act to preserve their harvests and live up to their contractual obligations.

Learn more about the full potential of artificial intelligence in agriculture. AI will change the future of agriculture, but implementing it the right way is a challenge.

Read more

Look further and see beyond with digital farming technology

While diseases and insects are visible factors that farmers can react to relatively swiftly, there are problems that lie way deeper. Have you ever heard of geographic information systems, or GIS? This is an incredibly important element of every digital farming system that lets farmers go beyond what is visible to the naked eye. GIS in agriculture provides advanced imaging technologies that give farmers detailed data regarding aspects such as contours and slopes that could pose a challenge to cultivation. GIS can also help calculate NDVI, or the normalized difference vegetation index, which is used for assessing vegetation dynamics. And as Surveying Group says, there is much more that GIS can help you with when it comes to sustainable farming.

Why have digital farming systems analyzed the soil?

According to Ines Hajdu, an agronomy and digital farming technology expert, conducting soil analysis at least once every three to four years is a must for agricultural firms. Soil analysis was one of the major components of a unified farm management system we developed for one of our customers who wanted to boost production and profitability. Unfertile soil can put an end to all of your efforts. Hence, the constant possibility of defining a soil’s full operative state, especially its pH range, provides an incredible opportunity for farmers. Different crops require different pH ranges. As per the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the optimum pH value for the most common crops are as follows:

Optimum pH value for the most common crops as per FAO
Closing the Digital Farming Loop, or Agricultural Troubleshooting at Its Best

Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

We analyze our customers’ soil characteristics not only because it helps them build better businesses but also because it helps them stick to the United Nation’s Zero Hunger, Climate Action, and Life on Land Sustainable Development Goals.

Agriculture software development

Maximize productivity, bolster risk management, boost decision-making, and ensure the predictable outcome of each harvest with our agriculture software development services. Bold moves fueled by data define the agricultural sector of tomorrow.

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Precision mapping in digital agriculture

Farming does not boil down to choosing what to plant and when. More often, it is about getting a clear view of your fields that will help you implement efficient agricultural planning. Precision farming, put in action with the help of satellites and GPS, also called site-specific crop management, is aimed at developing a custom decision support system for your farming business. We’ve already talked about how precision mapping empowers agribusinesses to flourish, but we want to stress that precision mapping has become even more refined, as it is now capable of not only analyzing but also processing your crops. GPS-powered agriculture lets you not only plant but also harvest your crops with precision.

Digital farming systems for yield monitoring and forecasting

The next step we take to ensure our customers’ success is yield monitoring and forecasting. The agricultural industry is all about dependence on nature (at least, it used to be before the advent of digital farming) and a company’s ability to deliver on promises made to customers. Delivering on these promises takes up to a few months, during which time the farmer has to precisely control the yield. Our custom yield monitoring and forecasting solutions help farmers worldwide rest assured of harvest quality and volumes. For example, a smart spraying solution can help you improve your precision in herbicide application. Meanwhile, correctly interpreted drone data will improve your decision-making and assessment capabilities.

When you monitor a crop’s activity from tillage to harvesting, it becomes easier to forecast the harvest volume. It’s no wonder why yield monitoring has become a hit, with even small farms now investing heavily in increasing the number of daily data points available to them. The World Bank claims that digital farming dynamics look ostensibly positive. Back in 2014, the number of daily data points on an average farm was 190,000; this number is expected to reach 4.1 million by 2050.

Find out how to interpret drone data in a way that ensures maximum crop management efficiency.

Read more

Automate your processes with advanced digital farming machinery

You can automate practically anything you want in today’s agriculture but for the plants themselves. Automation is at the heart of today’s agricultural machinery and digital farming technology. Smart irrigation systems, autonomous tractors, seeding and weeding robots, and plant watering, among others, are only a few of the benefits IoT technology can bring to your farm. The applicationof IoT in agriculture has skyrocketed recently, as people have come to terms with the fact that farming can be way more cost-efficient, faster, and smarter.

Why spend money on excessive water when you can use it only when plants actually need it? Why pay reimbursements in installments because you’ve promised two tons of strawberries to your partners while you’ve managed to deliver only one and a half since the missing half ton was bruised and heavily damaged during harvesting. Now imagine a system of up to 24 interconnected precision harvesting robots working in your fields, providing maximum efficiency and swiftness. This is connected farming at its best, ensuring that you get your harvest undamaged and ready for shipment. We make sure that digital technology in agriculture changes the quality of your business.

This is an ecosystem: No digital farming element is unimportant

Today’s digital agriculture is not a network of individual elements. It is a perplexing ecosystem that consists of each and every single element mentioned above. One thing to understand is that this ecosystem cannot function properly if even one of those elements has been taken out of the loop. Having the best machinery won’t help you if you have no data about the soil you’re going to plow. A company can sow seeds into the most fertile soil in the world. Yet the crop may be destroyed by insects, disease, or any other natural force. Having no data to prevent the negative and lamentable outcome would be quite detrimental.

At Intellias, we establish custom all-around digital farming systems to make sure our customers’ businesses prosper. Digital agriculture is a loop that we close with comprehensive agriculture software development services. Drop us a line and tell us about your project. Let’s protect your agricultural business together by making sure you move a step ahead of insects, storms, and other unfavorable weather conditions.

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