Precision Farming Project: What is Precision Farming, exactly?

August 03, 2020

Precision Farming is coming to Farming Simulator! Missed our announcement? Take a minute to catch up on what the future holds for the series! Only days ago, we announced the “Precision Farming Project” by EIT Food and John Deere in cooperation with other partners. Please, mind the fact, that the project is currently in the conception phase

It’s designed to spread awareness on modern agriculture through a free game module coming to Farming Simulator. In case, you never heard of Precision Farming or don’t know exactly what it’s all about, let’s take a quick excursion and look at this exciting topic!

What real-life Precision Farming is about

Precision Farming, also called “Precision Agriculture” or “Smart Farming”, is designed to improve agricultural efficiency by using modern technology. To put it simple, the goal is to produce more and better crops using less resources, in other words, make farming more sustainable than in the past. Precision farming is adopted more and more on progressive farms around the world. 

What are the benefits of Precision Farming?

Precision Farming aims to benefit basically every aspect of farming. It benefits the farmer using the technology to operate an efficient farm as well as the consumer buying the crops. But that’s not all, lowering the environmental load is also a cornerstone of Smart Farming. Let’s take a quick look at who and what can benefit from the technology:

  • Crops: As every farmer knows, crops have various needs. Smart technology aims to match those needs through analyzing and adapting to meet those needs as close as possible with a never seen before precision - resulting in higher quality crops. Like managing water, fertilizer and pesticides.  
  • Environment: Applying the right amount of chemicals and resources is benefiting the soil, also reducing runoff into the waterways. Saving resources like fuel is also a benefit to the environment. 
  • Farmers/Economy: Becoming more efficient could lead to a higher competitiveness by reduced operating costs while boosting profits for farmers while reducing work hours. The return of investment after purchasing the technology is basically earned by saving resources with every task.

How does Precision Farming work in general?

Various tech is used to enable Precision Farming. On-board computers and applications for computers and mobile devices allow to monitor fields and associated data. GPS devices on tractors and other machinery, for example, allow farmers to plant their crops more precise by using optimized and automated patterns that are designed to save time, fuel and seeds.

Analyzing and monitoring data is a key component of Precision Farming: Allowing farmers to get a complete overview of their farm, including data on soil quality, previous crops and environmental factors, helps to ease decision-making and responding to challenges. Sensors can determine temperature, moisture, biomass, development of diseases and many other information.

All this is documented and analyzed in seconds to suggest improvements for future crop cycles. Also, this is where the exciting field of AI (Artificial Intelligence) learning comes into play to help farmers making smart decisions and further improving yield quality and lowering the environmental impact. 

Examples for real-life Precision Farming Tech

The following technologies are examples for real-life technology used by Precision Farmers. Please mind, this is not a list of planned features in regards to the module for the game. 

  • Drones & Satellites are used for mapping and remote-monitoring fields
  • On-board computers & GPS systems in vehicles allow for precise navigation and even full-automated steering
  • Agricultural Robots (AgBots) are, for example, autonomous tractors working on autopilot - with the farmer only stepping in when emergencies occur
  • Various Sensors allow identifying variabilities in heterogeneous zones of a field and therefore allow managing those zones accordingly 
  • The Internet of Things (IoT) describes the concept of connecting systems to a network and transferring data without the need of active interaction. In Precision Farming, the same concept applies, with farmer able to connect to those systems
  • Software Applications are used for various platforms to analyze and manage information, mapping fields, tracking animals and more
  • Machine (AI) Learning is used by drones, robots and the devices based on the Internet of Things. Computers process all the information coming in, generate appropriate suggestions. Based on the results, the machine optimize future recommendations even further

Precision Farming in Farming Simulator

As per our announcement, the Farming Simulator series will receive a free Precision Farming module in the future. The first step of the two-year project together with EIT Food and John Deere is to implement heterogeneous fields with regards to soil types. As mentioned before, the project is currently in the concept phase and further development after implementing the feature of heterogeneous fields, is to be determined. Stay tuned for more information in the future!

This EIT Food activity has received funding from the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), a body of the European Union, under Horizon2020, the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation. 

EIT Food is Europe’s leading agri-food innovation initiative, with the aim to create a sustainable and future-proof food sector. The initiative is made up of a consortium of key industry players, start-ups, research centres and universities from across Europe. EIT Food aims to collaborate closely with consumers to develop new knowledge and technology-based products and services that will ultimately deliver a healthier and more sustainable lifestyle for all European citizens.

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