How has your life changed since the dawn of the smartphone? We now have unlimited data in our hands: updates on our kids’ grades, real-time stock prices, shipping information for online purchases, even a fitness tracker in the cloud counting our steps. Instead of reading the same newspaper as our neighbors each morning, we each choose the information that comes straight to us based on how our day is shaping up. The opportunities for customization seem endless.
All of this data is designed to help us do one thing: make specific decisions, tailored to our needs, about the things that improve our lives.
Now imagine how the same data technology can improve decisions farmers make every day. Every square meter of a field contains hundreds of pieces of data, from moisture and nutrient levels to real-time weather variables. Like you and your neighbors, each plant’s day is a little different, and so are its needs.
Why should we care about each little change in the life of an individual plant or the soil on the world’s fields? Because each piece of data farmers collect helps them make more precise decisions about resources like seeds, water, soil nutrients and plant health. That precision cuts down on waste and helps grow food more sustainably, with more efficient use of land, water, fertilizer, fossil fuels and other resources. When combined with other important practices, like reducing the carbon released by tilling, precision agriculture can help reduce agriculture’s carbon footprint.