The digitalization of the agri-food sector is a priority of the European agricultural policy for the next years. The commitment is obligatory because experts estimate that the world population will be reaching 9.500 million people by 2050 and because the developed societies demand more and more a bigger respect for the environment and the natural resources. It means that the new digital tools should be addressed to models of sustainable production.
With the 21st century we have arrived at the age of information, which opens a double path: the procurement and management of data. The latest technological advancements, like Internet of Things (IoT) and Data Analytics - Big Data included- turn the food chain into a process whose information is available at any moment and at any spot: what until now we knew as Precision Farming, concept which was coined in the twentieth century, nowadays aims at improving the efficiency and the profitability of the agricultural exploitations and gives way on Smart Farming.
In this way, the procurement of information and analysis of the compiled data (Big Data) must be affordable and easy-to-manage when carried out by the farmer, who takes the final decision overall and does not use to be an expert in technology. If he/she is the owner - as it is the case in Spain most of the times - the cost control will be another of his/her priorities.
Technology applied to farming
The technology applied to farming has come to stay in many different fields of action. Remote sensing devices are already used helped by satellite broadcasted images to analyze the soils and improve the performances. Apps and computing platforms have been launched and are able to offer varied informations with predictive patterns of diseases which could affect several crops.
As far as agricultural spraying is concerned, the collected data are useful to carry out applications of product with variable doses and sectors' control, depending on the phenological condition of the crop. Supplies monitored devices are launched to prevent the seeds and fertilizers from overlapping and to adjust the height of the application booms.
But we must be careful not to rob Peter to pay Paul. Drift must be watched over, that is, the expulsion of the phytosanitary product out of the application area, which is caused by the wind. That one can attain 50% of the applied product volume, according to the Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Agrarias (IVIA) (Agricultural Research Council from Valencia).
If we refer to Precision Farming soon may we find plenty of solutions which propose that same idea: the search for the most accurate precision, always within a sustainable production frame.
In any case, the success of the application will depend on the control that is kept over those critical parameters. The technology applied to farming which can help professionals to widen and screen the information will be more able to reduce, even suppress, larger problems.