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Thread: Precision Agriculture

  1. #1

    Precision Agriculture

    Precision Agriculture Techniques and Practices: From Considerations to Applications

    Internet of Things (IoT)-based automation of agricultural events can change the agriculture sector from being static and manual to dynamic and smart, leading to enhanced production with reduced human efforts.

    Precision Agriculture (PA) along with Wireless Sensor Network (WSN) are the main drivers of automation in the agriculture domain. PA uses specific sensors and software to ensure that the crops receive exactly what they need to optimize productivity and sustainability.

    PA includes retrieving real data about the conditions of soil, crops and weather from the sensors deployed in the fields. High-resolution images of crops are obtained from satellite or air-borne platforms (manned or unmanned), which are further processed to extract information used to provide future decisions.




    In this paper, a review of near and remote sensor networks in the agriculture domain is presented along with several considerations and challenges. This survey includes wireless communication technologies, sensors, and wireless nodes used to assess the environmental behaviour, the platforms used to obtain spectral images of crops, the common vegetation indices used to analyse spectral images and applications of WSN in agriculture.

    As a proof of concept, we present a case study showing how WSN-based PA system can be implemented. We propose an IoT-based smart solution for crop health monitoring, which is comprised of two modules.

    The first module is a wireless sensor network-based system to monitor real-time crop health status.

    The second module uses a low altitude remote sensing platform to obtain multi-spectral imagery, which is further processed to classify healthy and unhealthy crops.

    We also highlight the results obtained using a case study and list the challenges and future directions based on our work.

    https://www.mdpi.com/1424-8220/19/17/3796/htm

  2. #2
    Agroforestry: An ancient ‘indigenous technology’ with wide modern appeal (commentary)

    The highly climate- and biodiversity-friendly agricultural practice of agroforestry is now practiced widely around the world, but its roots are deeply indigenous.

    Agroforestry is the practice of growing of trees, shrubs, herbs, and vegetables together in a group mimicking a forest, and its originators were indigenous peoples who realized that growing useful plants together created a system where each species benefited the others.

    Agroforestry is now estimated to cover one billion hectares globally and sequester over 45 gigatons of carbon from the atmosphere, a figure that grows annually.



    Indigenous communities around the world are not the only ones to benefit from agroforestry’s increases in food security and community resilience. Thanks to agroforestry, all manner of wildlife are finding more homes in the branches of these food forests.

    The world would do well to follow the lead of indigenous technologists by planting more trees in agricultural land-scapes, and in useful combinations. Even growing trees in cattle pastures, a technique known as silvopasture, is shown to yield better forage for the animals while capturing carbon and providing fruit, medicines, and other useful products.

    https://news.mongabay.com/2019/07/ag...eal-commentary

  3. #3
    IF AGROFORESTRY IS SO GOOD, WHY DOESN’T EVERYONE DO IT?

    Agroforestry, an agricultural method where trees and crops are cultivated on the same land, is declared to be a win-win-win miracle approach with many benefits – from climate to biological diversity to economic development. Many experts stand behind the message that agroforestry can contribute to achieving most of the Sustainable Development Goals.

    So, if agroforestry is so good, why doesn’t everyone do it? This question has been broadly discussed during the World Agroforestry Congress 2019, and here are five barriers to agroforestry adoption and ways to overcome them.

    1. Change is always a risk
    2. Information isn’t enough – we need to tap into social norms and values
    3. No clear land rights – no agroforestry
    4. Underutilized species need better marketing
    5. Context is king



    https://www.siani.se/news-story/if-a...yone-doing-it/

  4. #4
    Holy See urges promotion of sustainable agriculture, rural families

    Monsignor Fernando Chica Arellano, head of the Holy See delegation to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, FAO, on June 26 addressed a conference on "Migration, Agriculture and Rural Development"

    The Holy See is urging more investment in sustainable agriculture to solve the grave problems of migration, hunger and poverty in the world, saying sustainable agriculture creates adequate infrastructures and encourages the use of innovative technologies that enhance local resources.




    Msgr. Arellano underscored the importance of promoting policies aimed at developing youth entrepreneurship in the agricultural sector, such as by facilitating their access to land, security and protection of ownership of their land and access to credit and local markets.

    The Vatican representative appealed to FAO to formulate policies that support and sustain rural families so that they can maintain their identities as transmitters of values such as the custody of traditional knowledge, inter-generational respect and strengthen the irreplaceable role of women in the agricultural and livestock sectors.

    The head of the Holy See delegation concluded by recalling the importance of promoting an ethical vision of the economy and society, saying it will lead to a just and peaceful coexistence among nations and encourage a sustainable and integral development that puts the human person at the centre.

    https://www.vaticannews.va/en/vatica...stainable.html

  5. #5
    Robots are already farming crops inside this Silicon Valley warehouse

    Inside a cavernous warehouse in South San Francisco, 16-foot-tall walls of kale and other greens stretch down aisles twice the length of a bowling lane. Matt Barnard, CEO and cofounder of Plenty, the startup that designed and built the indoor farm, points to two types of mustard greens called mizuna and tatsoi. “This is one of the blends that we are working to position against junk food,” he says.

    Barnard wants to change how the world eats by changing how food is grown. The new farm, which will begin selling produce to San Franciscans later this year, is the latest iteration of its indoor growing system, designed to grow food as efficiently as possible in any space, so cities anywhere can have access to locally grown vegetables—optimized for flavor—at any time of year.

    When I first visited the company’s headquarters in 2017, it used only a small amount of the space, a former electronics distribution center in an industrial neighborhood. A few months later, Softbank led a $200 million investment round in the startup. The new version of Plenty’s farm now sprawls over a much larger part of its headquarters, and the company plans to eventually replicate it near large cities globally.

    Each step in the process is now automated. In one corner of the massive warehouse, a bright yellow robot picks up a tower filled with kale that was growing, minutes earlier, in one of the aisles of greens next door. Gently turning the tower on its side, the robot sets it on a conveyor belt where a spinning wheel neatly trims the greens to harvest them. When the farm opens, this will be one of the last steps before produce is delivered to grocery stores or directly to consumers (the company already sells greens from its earlier, smaller farm through a local food delivery service called Good Eggs, along with some independent groceries).

    In another corner, robots pack trays with soil and seeds and deliver them to another room to germinate. Along another wall, four robots inside glass boxes carefully lift seedlings out of trays and plant them into the tall white growing towers. Back in the growing room, infrared cameras and sensors monitor the indoor climate, and software adjusts details like the precise “recipe” for light or water to create the best flavor in the plants.



    https://www.plenty.ag
    https://www.fastcompany.com/90365627...lley-warehouse

  6. #6
    The Farms of the Future

    Still, she persisted, and today she runs a diversified organic farm that is, in her words, a “self-reliant ecosystem.” She raises a wide variety of animals and crops, making use of ingenious techniques — like allowing ducks into the rice patties — to fertilize plants and eliminate pests without using chemicals. She’s also turned her farm into a place of learning, teaching children from the city where their food comes from. Through all of this, Hou Xueying has found a community that shares her values for the first time. She believes that the importance of the farming way of life extends far beyond putting good food on the table. As she explains in the short film, Farmed with Love, “Only conscious foodies can save the world.”



    So when we ask: what will the farms of the future look like? We should really be asking — what do we want the future to look like? And then answers may begin to emerge.

    In short, industrial monocultures — those big farms you see with acres and acres of corn or soy, not to mention those giant cattle feedlots — are systems that degenerate, they die,over time. They produce more carbon emissions than they sequester. Their pesticides kill insects, including pollinators, a trend which may soon initiate “the collapse of nature.” Every year, they suck the nutrients from the soil, and replace them with toxic chemicals. They draw water from local watersheds, pollute it, and let it run off into gutters, or evaporate when hot weather comes, rather than employing management techniques that would allow it to sink back down to replenish local aquifers. Eventually, land treated this way becomes barren, eroding away to create dead zones in rivers and oceans or being lifted up by the wind to join the particulate matter in the air, poisoning the lungs of human beings (it’s telling that a recent report showed that Fresno and Bakersfield, in the heart of California’s industrial farm-filled Central Valley, have the worst particulate pollution in the USA).

    This is what agriculture looks like in a globalized corporate economy, where, like the nutrients from the soil, the livelihood is sucked from farming communities and siphoned up into the coffers of a few giant corporations .

    Farms can be regenerative, living systems, that produce a bounty but no waste. They can supply the needs of a local community — if that community is willing embrace the idea of eating a mostly seasonal, locally adapted diet — with no need for long-distance transport by trucks, ships, or planes. Farms do not have to be net carbon emitters — plants absorb CO2 when they photosynthesize, and only emit it very slowly, through respiration and decomposition; studies show that, if managed correctly, farms, orchards, and even animal grazing systems can become places that sink and sequester CO2.

    Not only that, but these are the same kinds of diversified farming systems that make people most resilient in the face of climate change. If we grow one kind of bean, for example, as a cash crop, and then the summer is too hot for that variety, we lose absolutely everything — all of our profits, which we would have used to buy food throughout the year. If we grow a diverse variety of crops, however, all with slightly different climactic limitations, then not only will a heat wave fail to do us in, but we can feed ourselves, right from our own backyards, no matter what happens. In fact, there are many points in favor of small diversified farms. Even minimal diversification has been shown to increase crop yields, while intensive permaculture systems — which have only recently been recognized by science — have the potential to completely transform our concept of productivity, and of what a “farm” is.

    When we talk about “diversified farms,” we usually mean crop diversity. But there is also wild biodiversity, human diversity, cultural diversity, language diversity, diversity in ways of thinking and being — all of which oppose the corporate consumer human monoculture which is so swiftly, insidiously spreading. Researchers have correlated biodiversity with language diversity, while others have found that certain regions function as “bio-cultural refugia,” harboring “place specific social memories related to food security and stewardship of biodiversity.”

    It’s easy to see these ideas brought to life in the context of a local food culture — crop varieties, local species and geography, language, and other aspects of culture like food preparation, celebrations, ways of passing knowledge on to the next generation, are all intimately connected. Lose any one element and the whole system is threatened. Colonizers have long removed Indigenous people from their land knowing that this in turn will deprive them of their food culture, and so make them dependent on the colonizer’s economy — creating widening ripples of destruction.

    In the end, you could say it comes down to this: if we all divest our time, energy and money from the corporations that fill megastores and supermarkets, and invest instead in ourselves, in local farmers and small local businesses, then we can keep money and precious resources circulating in our communities.

    https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/06...of-the-future/

  7. #7
    ‘Photosynthesis could heal’: why agriculture should be driven by environmentalists

    In this extract from her new book, Patrice Newell says environmental policy must begin at the farm gate

    Agriculture is as much an export business as mining, so when I see asparagus from Peru, garlic from Mexico and cherries from California on supermarket shelves, I wonder why we still need to import so much food. The answer is simple: all year-round supply and money. Cheap is the name of the game. Cheap food is as political as cheap power and the supermarkets are happy to comply. The global shopping cart is at a store near you and on your computer.

    But in exporting agricultural produce, we are also exporting our soil and water. Every time we sell something that’s been born, shorn, cut or harvested – from cotton fibre to goat meat, from wine to my beloved garlic bulbs – a little bit of soil has changed, often sacrificed, along with as much as 70% of the nation’s water supply.

    Farming and land clearing have also driven climate change. The agricultural sector in Australia is the third biggest emitter of greenhouse gas, after electricity generation and transport. A tractor pulling a plough releases carbon instantaneously with every pass. Clearing plants that we dismiss as “scrub” also pushes carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. So does spreading nitrogen-based fertiliser.

    But there is a way to redress this, and that’s photosynthesis, the miraculous process that plants perform naturally, removing carbon dioxide from the air and earthing it in the soil via their roots, also releasing oxygen along the way. Plants not only hold the soil together, they help hold soil carbon.

    Photosynthesis could heal the world if we let it. Every farm can be part of a system to manage the climate. One of the worst sights during this latest drought has been the slow denuding of hillsides, the turning of pasture to dust. Thousands of bare hectares without plants is not using the sun to build the soil and sequester carbon.

    https://www.theguardian.com/science/...d-if-we-let-it

  8. #8
    German Nonprofit Creates New Open-Source License for Seeds



    We know about open-source software and hardware, but can the concept – decentralized development and open collaboration for the common good – be expanded to address other global challenges? The nonprofit OpenSourceSeeds based in the German town of Marburg has just launched a licensing process for open-source seeds, to create a new repository of genetic material that can be accessed by farmers around the world, in perpetuity.

    Our license is quite radical. It says that if a seed is licensed, this seed, and all further developments and modifications [of that seed] fall under this license. So this means you start a chain of contracts – if the person who has got the seed is giving further developments of this seed to a third person, he becomes a licenser, which means he or she is licensing a new variety

    In theory, this can be indefinite. There is no way back to private domain. [Our license] does not allow any seed company to take the seed, use it for breeding, and put a patent on it.You can work with is, you can earn your money with it, but you have no exclusivity.

    This is important because we are living in a time of not only privatization of genetic resources, but the monopolization of genetic resources. Big companies, they are interested in producing few varieties and extending and distributing these varieties for large acreages – the larger the acreage, the larger their return through royalties.

    License, first all of all says, there is no limitation to the use of this seed by the farmer. The only limitation is to refrain from privatization. Commercial seeds have become extremely costly, but the other point which is more important, the characteristics of a variety are not fully meeting the needs farmers have today.

    And this applies, in particular, to small farmers in the world who are not able to pay the high costs of seeds for seeds from the big companies, or who may not need the varieties which are offered.

    Our big challenge will be to extend the idea. But it will be an important task to get breeders to provide newly developed varieties to our initiative – and we hope that this will grow the number of open source licensed varieties, satisfactorily.

    Our license has stimulated initiatives in other sectors – there is for instance – the World Beekeeping Association – they have on their annual meeting decided to use our open source license and adapting it for bees, and doing open source licensing for bees. Another initiative is thinking about open source licensing of microorganisms, and there’s a third one which explores possibilities of using open source licensing for animal genetic resources – farm animals.

    https://www.opensourceseeds.org/en/
    https://www.shareable.net/german-non...nse-for-seeds/

  9. #9
    Smart Irrigation Model Predicts Rainfall to Conserve Water

    Fresh water isn’t unlimited. Rainfall isn’t predictable. And plants aren’t always thirsty.

    Just 3% of the world’s water is drinkable, and more than 70% of that fresh water is used for agriculture. Unnecessary irrigation wastes huge amounts of water – some crops are watered twice as much as they need – and contributes to the pollution of aquifers, lakes and oceans.

    A predictive model combining information about plant physiology, real-time soil conditions and weather forecasts can help make more informed decisions about when and how much to irrigate. This could save 40% of the water consumed by more traditional methods, according to new Cornell research.



    https://www.enn.com/articles/58875-s...conserve-water

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  11. #11
    A small start-up has developed a market in providing organic produce grown by smallholders in Ethiopia to places like London and Dubai. Farmers are given credit for inputs like seeds as well as market access and extension services.

    https://www.theafricareport.com/1533...arming-market/

  12. #12
    4.0 agriculture arrives in Basilicata

    "New innovative technologies enable us to check what happens in the fields also via mobile devices, to monitor the soil, distinguish the life cycles of plants and understand when to irrigate," reports Mario, a partner and developer of 4.0 agricultural solutions for terraSmart, a start-up in Basilicata that has just installed two devices.



    "They are the first two installations of this kind in the region. The first case history is a complete 4.0 monitoring solution for the soil (sandy), plants and agrometereology in a bell pepper crop. The second installation is a 4.0 monitoring solution for the soil (clayey) and agrometereology in an apple orchard."



    "Sensors placed at different depths monitor the temperature, conductivity, electricity, irrigation, fertilization and conditions for plant growth in real time."

    "The installation in the pepper field also includes the plant monitoring part. Evolved high-tech sensors are useful for leaf growth and micro-variations of stem diameter. Applied on plants, these sensors enable the checking of the growth and vegetative activity by monitoring lymphatic flow, leaf transpiration and branch/fruit growth."

    "The temperature and leaf wetting sensor enables the determining of wetting conditions of the leaf surfaces exposed to the weather, detecting the condensation of water particles in case of rain, dew or fog, i.e. conditions not detectable with traditional pluviometers."

    "Leaf growth sensors provide information on stress caused by water deficits, measuring the drop in leaf turgidity when dehydration starts. Early diagnoses can be used as an input parameter to check the precision of irrigation and verify the vegetative condition of plants at the varying of irrigation and environmental conditions."

    All the data is gathered in our terraWeb platform, on which users can see data in real time and visualize daily and historic charts. In addition to providing a series of calculations, this platform can supply detection alerts and activate the most popular agronomic predictive models to prevent plant disease."

    "Our installations are entirely independent from an energetic point of view and are supplied by solar panels. All our systems can function using 2/3/4G, standard WiFi and LoRaWan connections and we are also getting equipped for Narrow Band (NB), which is important for remote rural areas where connectivity is slow."

    "In addition to the conventions and meetings with various growers, we are looking for support from all associations, which are important to promote a concept of 4.0 agriculture which will revolutionize how the land is used, leading to economic and sustainable benefits throughout the chain."

    https://www.terrasmart.it
    https://www.freshplaza.com/article/9...-in-basilicata

  13. #13
    Ukrainian tech firm makes farming look like a video game

    Imagine one of those computer games about farms where one can have a virtual land plot to grow crops, harvest and sell them.

    So Ukrainian high-tech company Studio of Agricultural Systems, or SAS, has created something very similar. In the company’s case, however, when one grows crops online, they appear in reality, and so does the money when these crops are sold.



    The trick is that the SAS game-like app links its system with real tractors and real fields, while also collecting data about the land from satellites, drones, special small planes, and various sensors across the domain connected to it.

    As a result, farmers see maps with fields, the number of plants and their ripeness, tractors moving around, and many other small details, including the amount of fuel in combines, ground humidity and even the soil’s mineral content.

    Accessible from any mobile device, this precise information helps farmers keep records, supervise employees, save money, and improve the harvest.



    https://sasagro.com/en/
    https://www.kyivpost.com/technology/...ideo-game.html

  14. #14
    Smart farming needs smart farmers

    In ten years, African farmers will be growing food smarter, faster and more efficiently. But there is a catch.

    Smart agriculture will not happen without smart technology that farmers can access, understand and use, digital researchers are convinced.

    https://agrf.org/news/smart-farming-...smart-farmers/

  15. #15
    With Regenerative Agriculture Booming, the Question of Pesticide Use Looms Large

    Regenerative practitioners say that healthy soil eventually leads to reducing synthetic chemicals. But some advocates say those chemicals have damaging effects and should be addressed.



    Regenerative farming is having a moment because scientists believe it can help transfer massive quantities of carbon from the atmosphere to the soil. With pressure mounting to address the climate crisis, on presidential campaign trails and otherwise, regenerative agriculture may prove a significant and permanent upheaval to traditional farming methods.

    The challenge, according to those who support the concept, is that “regenerative” itself lacks a clear definition. Although several certification schemes exist, they differ on how it should be implemented and evaluated. And the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which oversees the organic standards, has so far stayed out of the fray.

    Most proponents agree regenerative agriculture involves tilling the soil less (or avoiding it altogether), as well as planting cover crops, growing a diverse array of crops, and managed grazing. But some say these are just a baseline, and should be part of a greater sustainable farming system that goes beyond soil health.

    One point of quiet debate concerns the role of herbicides and synthetic fertilizers within regenerative agriculture. While conventional farmers using a regenerative, no-till approach tend to rely heavily on herbicides to manage weeds, organic regenerative farmers rely on a whole suite of other, less chemical and more labor-intensive tools.

    https://civileats.com/2019/09/05/wit...se-looms-large

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  17. #17
    Is Organic Food Over?

    As corporations rush in to make a buck, some farmers are pushing back — and fighting for the soul of organic food



    Chapman’s group of protesting farmers decided to forge its own path. A coalition of farmers and industry leaders established the Real Organic Project (ROP), a certification that will function as an “add-on” to the USDA organic label. In other words, it requires farms to be USDA certified but then checks that they’re meeting additional standards — like soil fertility and animal welfare requirements — that the organization feels the USDA is failing to enforce. ROP has lined up 50 farms across the country to launch the certification, and has already inspected about half of them.

    Meanwhile, the Regenerative Organic Alliance is trying to raise the bar even higher with a new certification called Regenerative Organic Certified (ROC). Patagonia CEO Rose Marcario — who also helms Patagonia Provisions, maker of packaged foods like smoked salmon and breakfast grains — said the idea came out of an observation: Many forward-thinking food producers began calling their practices “regenerative” to signify they were going beyond organic. “They were saying ‘[Organic] is not going far enough, or you know, it’s too big of a hurdle, or it’s a political lightning rod,” she says.

    https://www.eater.com/2019/1/3/18165...mo-controversy

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  19. #19
    Urban agriculture can push the sustainability

    A community garden occupies a diminutive dirt lot in Phoenix. Rows of raised garden beds offer up basil, watermelons and corn, making this patch of land an agricultural oasis in a desert city of 1.5 million people. In fact, this little garden is contributing in various ways to the city's environmental sustainability goals set by the city council in 2016. The goals consider matters such as transportation, water stewardship, air quality and food.

    With these goals in mind, a group of researchers led by Arizona State University assessed how urban agriculture can help Phoenix meet its sustainability goals. For example, urban agriculture could help eliminate so called "food deserts," communities that lack retail grocers. It also can provide green space, and energy and CO2 emissions savings from buildings.

    https://www.sciencedaily.com/release...0930082300.htm

  20. #20

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