Crop Monitoring Technology – IoT, Remote Sensing

Introduction to Crop Monitoring Technology: What is Crop Monitoring? Monitoring is the regular and careful inspection of crops throughout the growing season. When monitoring crops, a farmer walks through crops to look for crop problems. Crop monitoring is designed to make easy farming activities, while at the same time ensuring the best user experience and get a good yield. Once you have added your fields to the system, and you will have all of the data on one screen, and can manage them all remotely. Though, you will get weather risk alerts and notifications about changes in the values you have selected in the custom settings; these are the vegetation index values, precipitation rates, and among other valuable data to make effective decisions on time.

In this article we also covered the below topics about crop monitoring;

  • Why is crop monitoring important
  • How do farmers monitor their crops
  • What is an important system for the development and management of crop monitoring
  • What is crop health monitoring
  • How do drones monitor crops
  • How do you monitor plant diseases
  • What is irrigation monitoring

This technology helps farmers to manage multiple fields, cut costs on resources and also take reliable decisions. The performance of the agriculture sector mainly crop production, is largely dependent on dynamic weather changes. The decision-making procedure for the management of national food security thus needs current information. Availability of such information is of main importance for mitigating food insecurity risks and for planning-related government interventions mainly in countries having large populations with vulnerable food security status.

You can elaborate a plan of your fieldwork and then adjust it accordingly with the weather analytics feature. Though, weather analytic features are capable of forecasting the periods of frost and drought which are based on atmospheric humidity and soil moisture indicators. Crop monitoring allows you to see any problem with your crops at any stage. You are also able to make and share scouting reports online. Also, you can implement differential application systems that are based on the zoning map of a field, plan to seed competently, and as well as increase the efficiency of drip irrigation. Lastly, visualize the entire process by displaying the correlation between all of the available data sets.

A Guide to Crop Monitoring Technology Using Remote Sensing, Drones, and IoT

Drone Monitoring
Drone Monitoring (Pic credit: pixabay)

As technology has been evolving since its inception, crop monitoring is increasingly becoming critical for making the best use of geospatial methods and site-specific crop management practices. With the agriculture sector the convergence of information technology, coupled with government initiatives is driving the growth of the market. By applying the different number of applications in agriculture is anticipated to drive the crop monitoring demand over the forecast period. Though, telematics services include tracking devices using the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) to show the position of the equipment for management purposes.

By implementing these solutions is found to be high in regions where labor costs are high and land costs are inexpensive. Also, the advanced sensors and imaging capabilities have provided the farmers with many systems to reduce crop damage and increase crop yields.

Crop monitoring service embraces field visits and quantitative issues assessment. The below tasks are included in the initial survey;

  • Geo-referencing areas
  • Verification of the available land for farming
  • Survey of cultivated varieties
  • Productivity estimates for potential production calculation
  • Identification of developmental stage
  • Verification of phytosanitary aspects
  • Evaluation of agro-meteorological aspects
  • Verification of crop and soil management
  • Estimated time of harvest

As crops grow and ripen, so many things can go wrong like diseases, infestations with pests, or adverse environmental conditions that can cause irrevocable harm. By applying crop monitoring, smart sensing technology collects metrics about the state of the crops like temperature, humidity, health indicators and enables farmers to take timely measures should anything go wrong.

The key approach proposed to address the major issues of the countries on Agriculture Monitoring includes;

  • Depth analysis of the existing countries agriculture monitoring practices and find the main sustainable methods and tools that includes the review and validation of the existing information;
  • Improve innovative and complementary agriculture monitoring systems and also improve the data quality;
  • Develop data collection, analysis, and dissemination systems mainly based on advanced approaches and technology and integral use of remote-sensed data;
  • Develop area and yield forecasting and crop monitoring and estimation, based on geospatial information;
  • Produce cropland information including the main seasonal crop dynamics and the main crop types based on the integration of the remote sensing and find regions for technology improvement.

Monitoring Crop Growth and Performance

By using crop monitoring during the growth stage is an important aspect of the agricultural management system. At the end of the season, it allows the farmer to implement timely interventions that ensure optimal crop yields.

Some examples to prevent crops from developing at the rate are;

  • Poor water availability for example due to in-season drought
  • Extreme temperatures (heat)
  • Competition among plants for sunlight, water, nutrients, or space
  • A nutrient deficiency that is artificial fertilizer or manure
  • Uncontrolled use of chemicals (toxicity)
  • Fungal, bacterial or viral infection
  • Attack from insects, above or below the ground
  • Some of the above arise from shortcomings in labor investment on the agriculture plot

Why is it Important to Monitor Crops?

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Drone Monitors Cotton Field
Drone Monitors Cotton Field (pic credit: pixabay)

The crop monitoring technology not only prevents the production and spread of pests but also guarantees that diseases and weeds that are prone to appear are kept under control without causing the main inconveniences of performance and final product results.

It must be noted that crops are exposed every year to new threats as a result of possible mutations and transformations in the biological components of these pests. So, trying to control them by applying the same corrective actions to all of them would mean making a serious mistake. That is why monitoring crops is the main task that implies great responsibility.

When it comes to monitoring fruit crops like apples and pears applying for an Integrated Pest Management program, it is recommended not only to monitor trees, but also the weather conditions in the area that affects them, as a way to determine what kind of pests can appear that can cause problems in the proper development of those trees. Furthermore, it is indicated that applying systematic visual monitoring of the orchard block can work if you want to save money and time, as you progress through the growing and harvesting season.

Why monitor your crops?

Finding problems early stages gives a farmer time to resolve them before the crop sustains serious damage. Early detection of pest problems is critical to enable timely decisions with short-term vegetable crops. If the pest is not one the farmer recognizes, early problem detection will mean there is more time to have it recognized correctly. Poor crops monitoring can lead to substantial crop losses.

The monitoring system allows for the timely use of pest management inputs. Several insecticides whether purchased products and are less likely to have a negative environmental impact when the pest population is small. Many work best at a certain stage of pest development. For example, spraying the Bacillus thuringiensis applications is critical for controlling pests. Then, the Bt bacterium must be ingested by the target insect; and it must be applied when young caterpillars are actively feeding.

It is also useful to be aware of beneficial insects that could help control a plant pest. It may influence a farmer to adopt some agricultural practices that favor natural allies against crop pests. If a farmer notices hoverflies belong to the Syrphidae family in the agriculture field, they can want to allow flowering plants to flourish around the field. Though, hoverfly larvae feed on aphids and small caterpillars, while the adults are attracted to flowers and are good pollinators.

Soil Condition and Moisture Monitoring

Soil condition monitoring is a very important indicator helping farmers to decide on the optimal planting in the agriculture sector. By performing soil condition monitoring with IoT sensors, farmers get instantly alerted of soil salinity and moisture. It needs a combination of hardware and software systems to operate in real-time on any significant changes.

Soil monitoring allows farmers to collect data about rainfall, temperature levels, and predict irrigation needs. It is critical for efficiently managing water resources. Then, this applies to both irrigated and rain-fed cropping systems. Soil moisture sensors help with irrigation decisions and they are valuable tools to understand what is happening in the root zone of your crop. It is the key to ensuring good irrigation system management decisions are made to maximize the benefit of the irrigation system. Irrigation is not the only use for soil monitoring systems. Each year, erosion from land-use changes causes millions of dollars in damage to property and natural water systems.

Weather Monitoring in Agriculture

Weather monitoring is one of the most frequent application fields for IoT systems in agriculture. In crop farming, yields are mainly dependent on the environment, which is inherently volatile. Weather monitoring solutions located directly in the field such as the ones used by weather stations, alert farmers on changing weather conditions like temperature, precipitation, humidity, solar radiation, and wind speed.

Weather conditions measurement can help people, businesses, and farmers, transport systems. Also, it is important in determining an area’s climate conditions involve measuring the weather conditions over a long period. Detecting records and display weather parameters are the main aims of the weather monitoring system.

It is also important not just in defining present climate conditions, but for detecting climate changes which enable us to predict future changes in our environmental conditions. Because of the different variety of uses for the information, there are a large number of environmental variables which are of interest to different groups of people. These variables include solar radiation, wind speed, wind direction, air temperature level, humidity, and net radiation.

Crop Monitoring Using Drones

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Drone Agriculture Technology
Drone Agriculture Technology (pic credit: pixabay)

Crop monitoring by using drones challenges are exacerbated by increasingly unpredictable weather conditions. Satellite imagery offered the most advanced form of the crop monitoring system. But there were drawbacks. Images had to be ordered in advance and can be taken only once a day. Extremely services were costly and the images’ quality suffered on certain days.

Drones allow farmers to constantly monitor crop conditions by air to quickly find problems in the agriculture sector. By using drone data crop monitoring is made easier to accurately plan by evolving fertilizer applications in the agriculture sector. Therefore, this can produce multispectral images that track changes in crops that can save an entire agriculture field.

The Benefits of Using IoT Monitoring Solutions

There is a wide range of agriculture remote monitoring applications and some of the benefits are;

Maximized productivity – Agriculture crop monitoring using IoT monitoring systems and timely measures to eliminate the usual threats increases crop yields. The use of an IoT monitoring system makes for maximized productivity in crops.

Improved quality – IoT monitoring systems will help to keep optimal conditions to ensure better crop quality and growth. For example, weather monitoring helps estimate the exact supply of water, and nutrients required to grow high-quality crop yields. The farming products developed are more capable of meeting market specifications than other products by using IoT monitoring systems.

Reduced need for pesticides – Not only are pesticides toxic, but their use also entails expenses. Smart pest monitoring systems reduce the need for pesticides, the expenses involved, and the dangerous impact of chemicals on the environment.

Predictability and control – Data analytics predict the optimal harvest dates in agriculture and ensure the security of supply contracts.

Higher sales price – Greener and healthier products developed using the latest ag-technologies will have higher sales prices, and will ultimately bring more revenue.

Future casting – By collecting and processing data retrieved using smart agriculture monitoring systems, farmers can predict the future state of soils and environments, and plan for next year’s crops. Some predictive analytics enable them to make calculated farm-management decisions.

Irrigation Monitoring System

Soil moisture monitoring will help your irrigation schedule to avoid applying too little or too much water. Is an important component of irrigation management is the monitoring of irrigation equipment. Assisted by remote monitoring an irrigation manager is enabled to properly assess the performance of equipment and then take timely decisions of adjustments, service, and maintenance. Over irrigation can also;

  • Increase water and energy costs
  • Leach fertilizers below the root zone
  • Erode soil
  • Move soil particles to drainage ditches
  • Result in unnecessary labor costs

Prevent Disease with Efficient Crop Monitoring Technology

Crop management devices will be placed in the field to collect data like temperature level, leaf water potential, and overall crop health, etc. The curious thing about analyzing the influence of the climate condition is that some pests can feed on it and become harmful agents to crops very quickly. In the field of the agriculture sector, it can happen that due to lack of awareness about this aspect, many farmers discover the damage pests have already done to the plantation when it is too late. The positive side of it is that pests tend to respond predictably to the climate conditions future.

However, even when monitoring is frequently done, it is likely for crop farmers to eventually detect the presence of a threat a little late, and also keep a record of the conditions that lead to the emergence and proliferation of certain pests in specific crops.

Crop Monitoring Using Remote Sensing

Why remote sensing?

Remote sensing helps to crop growth and it has some attributes that lend themselves to monitoring crop health. The main benefit of remote sensing is that it can see beyond the visible wavelengths into the infrared, where wavelengths are highly sensitive to crop vigor. Also, remote sensing imagery gives the required spatial overview of the agricultural land. Recent advances in communication allow a farmer to observe images of fields about managing crops. It can aid in recognizing crops affected by weather conditions that are too dry or wet, affected by fungal problems, affected by insect, weed infestations, or weather-related damage. It can be obtained throughout the growing season are not only detect problems but also is useful to monitor the success of the treatment.

Crop Monitoring Using Satellite Imagery Technology

Crop monitoring using Satellite imagery has resulted in several developments in the agricultural industry. Satellite monitoring data has become one of the critical sources of data in monitoring large-scale crop conditions that is focusing on vegetation index analysis along with other improvements.

Crop monitoring by using satellite imagery would show crop growth right from planting to harvest. The changes as the season go on and all the abnormalities such as soil compaction, dry areas or water problems, and weed patches can be identified. Georeferenced images can locate such problematic regions. The size of the region that is affected can be determined as well. The main benefit of satellite crop monitoring is beyond the human naked eyes. It mainly helps the grower come up with an informed decision regarding the feasible solutions affecting farming activities.

Satellite images can assist in monitoring the effectiveness of applied preventive actions by crop growth. Then, the reason why satellite images are valued is that they act as early indicators of crop stress. The early yield of farm produces informs the same grower of any marketing decision that must be made and what kind of resources must be allocated towards the same.

Some relevant applications of satellite crops monitoring are agriculture field monitoring for crop estimation as a type of agricultural technology. Accurate estimation of crop information and estimates are critical for the below reasons;

  • Quantity uncertainty can influence demand and supply resulting in price volatility and inaccurate shortage anticipation, this can result in the hoarding of farm produce; and
  • Food security largely affects political stability. Crop progress by using remote monitoring is necessary for risk estimation and management as well. Also, harvest progress can be tracked by satellite images as well as analysis around the spatial distribution of crops.
  • Finally, satellite imaginary technology is found to be reliable in crop monitoring. It becomes useful when the farmer is carrying out time-series analyses and other analyses. It has been made attractive by the development of higher resolution sensors and constellations which allow for faster revisit rates.

Spectral features of agricultural farms such as the results of texture analysis and changes in dynamics of colors and brightness angles can be used to build harvest functions and indices for assessment and control. The satellite crop monitoring system process allows a user to monitor crops that are in different fields and regions. After monitoring, the system performs an analysis on the different fields monitored and also an interpretation of the analyzed data for the many users.

Importance of Satellite Crop Monitoring Technology

  • Rational fertilizing is enhanced by using satellite images;
  • Wage costs are highly reduced. A minimum number of people is required to monitor a large piece of an agricultural farm;
  • Increased accuracy;
  • Reduced input costs like fuel; and
  • Improves data collection for future reference and research work.

Satellite crop monitoring technology users are;

  • Agriculture companies management – It involves crop vegetation control, crop yield forecasting, and management decisions optimization;
  • Business owners – It involves business prospects estimates, making reasonable decisions on capital investments, and providing information for management decisions;
  • Investors and investment analysts that means investment potential estimation, making investment decisions, and making sustainable forecasts;
  • Insurance brokers – Involves data collection, clients claims verification, the scale of rates, and insurance premium amounts calculation;
  • Agriculture machinery producers – Involves integration of crop monitoring solutions with agriculture machinery;
  • State organizations engaged in the agriculture sector, food security, and ecological problems.

How to Monitor Crops?

Regularly walk the entire field

Farmers are looking for some pest problems in crops by monitoring their crops, but it is helpful to walk the entire planting or field at least once each week specifically to monitor. Each time a farmer enters their field to monitor, and carefully look for signs of the specific pests that would most likely be there depending on the crop stage development and time of the growing season. It helps to enter the field or plot from a different starting point. For example, while walking with the sun at your back, and you will see different things than if you always walk facing the sun.

Thoroughly check a few plants

It isn’t necessary to check every plant but check random plants thoroughly in problem spaces first, looking at the upper and lower surface of leaves. There can be more than one pest, and the most obvious pest may not be the cause of the plant damage. The number of plants to inspect and what to look for varies with the crop and the pest.

Strive for consistency

Usually, personal impressions are the basis for crop management decisions.

Important Crop Health Monitoring Techniques for Farmers

Based on the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Program’s guidelines are the most important crop health metrics for farmers to monitor.

1) Crop appearance – Generally, crop appearance is the most obvious indicator of crop health. Some crop health monitoring methods including new technologies that utilize near-infrared light, allow farmers to accurately monitor chlorophyll content.

2) Crop growth – The main indications of poor crop growth are short branches and the absence of new shoots. Under ideal circumstances, there must be robust growth and dense, uniform stand in your crops.

3) Stress resistance – Crop stress is a decrease in crop production brought about by external factors. An example would be exposure to excess light and high temperatures, which can disrupt photosynthesis. Therefore, crops will have insufficient energy to bear fruit, and could even sustain lasting damage to their membranes, chloroplasts, and cells. Healthy crops are stress-tolerant and back after being exposed to stressors in their environment.

4) Occurrences of pests and diseases – An indicator that crops are susceptible to pests and diseases would be if over 50% of the population ends up getting damaged by some factors. Under the right circumstances, less than 20% of your crops can be negatively affected by any invasion of pests or spread of disease, allowing them to easily recuperate and increase in number once more. Building crop resistance against harmful insects and diseases can be done in several methods that include improving crop diversity, crop rotation, using organic pesticides such as eucalyptus oil, and even genetic research.

5) Weed competition and pressure – If the farm is overpopulated with weeds that will steal the nutrients from your crops, you will certainly notice that crops are steadily dwindling. Healthy crops would eventually overwhelm the weed population over your field.

Yield Monitoring

Yield monitoring is defined as the mechanism used to analyze several aspects based on agricultural yield such as grain mass flow, moisture content, and harvested grain quantity. It helps to correctly assess by recording the crop yield and moisture level to estimate, how well the crop performed and what to do next. Yield monitoring is considered a necessary part of precision farming not only at the time of harvest but even before that, as monitoring the yield quality is also important. Yield quality mainly depends on many factors like sufficient pollination with good quality pollen especially when predicting seed yields under changing environmental conditions. Now, when we are dealing with more open markets, buyers around the world become more particular about fruit quality; therefore, effective production depends on the right fruit size to the right market at the right time.

Yield monitoring helps to provide farmers with adequate information to make educated decisions about their fields. Yield monitors allow farm equipment to gather a huge amount of information, including grain yield, moisture levels, soil properties, etc. Since yield monitors provide farmers, they are much more able to assess things such as when to harvest, fertilize, or seed, the effects of weather conditions. There are several benefits to using yield monitoring technology. It helps to give the farmer accurate about their crop growth. By using this yield monitoring process farmers can better understand crop-related information to mitigate potential threats and crop yield.



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