The Top Five Farming Technology Advances that Can Yield More Profit

In addition to observing traditional best practices, row and tree farmers alike can benefit from farming technology advances.

For both row and tree farmers, the focus is always on yield. Traditional practices like irrigation, crop rotation, ensuring proper drainage, fertilizing, soil testing, regular equipment maintenance, and weed and pest control contribute to any farm’s overall success. However, in recent years, farming technology advances have dramatically improved yield potential, helping both row and tree farmers combat economic swings and climate challenges, bringing more dollars to their bottom lines.

Let’s take a look at the top five farming technology advances that can help yield more profit today.

  1. Smart irrigation systems. As temperatures and utility costs rise, water becomes even more of a highly valued resource. Cloud-based, smart irrigation systems use strategically placed, precise sensors to measure the presence of water (or lack of it.) When moisture reaches a critical low, the sensors signal the pumps to begin irrigating. The systems can be controlled remotely, and even allow for weather-based scheduling to allow tree farmers to optimize their irrigation practices and reduce water use, sometimes up to 50 percent.
  2. Seed analysis and preservation techniques. Seed quality has a significant impact on both yield and overall product quality. Advances like seed coating can help protect seeds so that they can sprout properly. Seed testing advances have increased the ability to detect contaminants in seeds. Additionally, cryopreservation is being used to preserve seed genetics with older plant seeds, and germination rates are studied closely to help identify inferior seeds. All of these advances mean greater potential for new cultivars that can improve varietal development.
  3. Soil evaluation technology. Soil sample testing has also benefited from technological advances. Soil testing systems of today use high resolution sensors mounted on trees or attached to drones to evaluate the soil quality and available nutrients. This allows farmers to target their fertilization efforts, which can result in a significant reduction in fertilizer waste and cost as well as a more even, fuller crop yield from fruit trees.
  4. Automated harvesting and material handling technology. Rough handling and human error can cause significant damage during the harvesting process. As a result, fruit growers are increasingly investing in robotic harvesting, sorting and product movement systems, particularly with grapes, lemons, olives, tomatoes and oranges. An additional benefit to automated harvesting systems is the fact that they can help ease farm labor shortages.
  5. Density-based spraying technology. In the early 2010s, the first ultrasonic spraying systems were introduced to the market. Over time, tree farmers who adopted these systems were able to realize around a 25% reduction in chemical use and waste over conventional air blast sprayers. These systems use ultrasound to control spray nozzles, turning them on and off as trees are sensed in the rows. The first density-based spraying system was launched in 2017, after years of USDA-funded research. These spraying systems utilize LiDAR technology to sense not just the presence of trees, but also the density of the tree canopy itself. They control each individual spray nozzle, turning them on and off as needed to apply the precise amount of chemical needed. Density-based spraying systems can result in a reduction of chemical use, overspray and waste of up to 73 percent as well as reductions of spray loss between canopies, airborne drift, and spray loss on the ground of more than 85 percent.

Are farming technology advancements right for you?

Volatile economic environments, climate change and labor shortages pose new challenges for today’s farmers. Growers should take time to assess the latest advances in farming technology and determine if they can take advantage of any of these advances to lower their costs, reduce waste, improve their yields and ultimately, bring more money to the bottom line.

About Smart Apply

Based in Indianapolis, Indiana, Smart Apply, Inc. manufactures the Smart Apply® Intelligent Sprayer™, the only density-based, intelligent spray system available on the market today. At Smart Apply, we’re committed to helping tree and nut growers and nursery owners across the United States and around the world realize chemical cost savings, improved sustainability through healthier trees and plants, cleaner and safer groundwater and greater overall yields, with an easy-to-use, reliable system based on years of research and cutting-edge technology.

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