Advantages of GPS: Benefits in the Agricultural Field
Your farm is an investment in and of itself. As a rural farmer, you must devote some time and attention toward protecting that investment and securing your financial future. The tools you have that keep your farm operational throughout the year are not exactly inexpensive – nor are the livestock you invest heavily in. GPS tracking can help you protect your assets in more ways than you realize. We will give you a few prime examples of how GPS can benefit you and your rural farm.
Reduce Manual Labor Needed for Tractor Use
Farms and agricultural businesses managing dozens and hundreds of acres have quite a bit of area to cover. Literally!
GPS tracking and monitoring devices can simplify agricultural and farming tasks such as:
- Pest Control
Using a GPS tracking and monitoring system, agricultural centers can program which routes tractors use. This will help save money and time by reducing fuel consumption and the need for additional manual labor.
Target Specific Areas Needing Crop Dusting
Crop dusting is important to the success or failure of a farm’s crops. With the negative effects it can have on the environment and crops themselves, farmers are looking for ways to minimize treating areas that are uninfected. Using a GPS solution, workers can record the geographic location of insect problems.
This data can then be used to treat only those specific areas, preventing the unnecessary treating of an entire farm area and protecting the health of uninfected plants.
Geofencing and Landmarks Used to Monitor Crops
GPS technology can be programmed to create landmarks and geofences around specific geographic locations. This information can be used to zone specific areas of a farm to provide information regarding crop yields. Each crop can be set-up with its own geofence or landmark to help establish things like:
- Crop yields
- Soil sampling
- Feeding schedules
This information can be used to determine how well a particular crop is or isn’t performing. Information regarding the nutrient quality of the soil, the amount of fertilizer the crop is using, and any treatments it has undergone for pests can be recorded and used for future planting.
GPS Technology is Constantly Advancing
GPS use in agriculture and farming is growing as quickly as the technology is advancing. Farmers have learned the benefits of using GPS technology and even use it as a way to track and locate wayward farm animals. With the technology advancing as rapidly as it is, so are the many ways GPS tracking is being used to save time and money to help further ‘green’ the farm.
Prior to the wide availability of GPS, tractor operators relied on visual cues to keep furrows aligned. Whether these were straight or following the contour of the field, making efficient use of the available land required constant attention when guiding the plow. GPS, along with other modern guidance technology and automatic steering systems, can place furrows in a field with millimeter precision.
On smaller farms, relying on known landmarks can be an accurate method for determining a field’s boundaries. Relying on visual clues may not be accurate enough when laying out large, relatively featureless tracts of land. Challenges due to the absence of trees, roads or other recognizable landmarks are overcome with reliable GPS readings to relay boundary information to the farmer. These readings also provide reliable navigation information in low visibility conditions like fog, darkness or heavy rain, and allow operations that may otherwise be difficult or dangerous without visual feedback.
Planting and Fertilization
Once a field is plowed, GPS information can be used to control accurate seed placement within the furrows. Older methods of “broadcasting” seeds by using mechanical spreaders to toss seeds randomly over the top of the plowed field wasted almost as much seed as was planted. Using controlled methods to insert seeds directly into the furrows reduces waste and cost. Fertilization can be done using the same method. In addition to precision placement of seeds and fertilizer, soil samples can also be taken, analyzed and identified by location to test for nutrients required for successful crop growth. This allows the farmer to apply fertilizer only to the areas that need it.
As with any other business, profitable farming requires efficient use of available resources. GPS systems provide a number of cost-effective alternatives to older methods of planting, raising and harvesting crops. Lower costs mean higher potential profits. A higher profit margin can make the difference between a good year and a bad year on any farm and, for many farmers, is sufficient reason to embrace the latest technology.