Zenseio Blog

Solutions in Precision Agriculture
Cornfield in the summertime

As climate conditions continue to shift while the global population increases, farmers and food producers everywhere need to continually adapt their methods like never before. Managing and allocating resources to maximize efficiency is crucial, and precise data-driven monitoring is key to accomplishing this. Understanding and overcoming the challenges of farming in the 21st century introduces us to the world of precision agriculture.
What is precision agriculture?
Though definitions can vary, the International Society of Precision Agriculture defines it as "a management strategy that takes account of temporal and spatial variability to improve the sustainability of agricultural production."
In practice, this generally boils down to a system of agriculture that aims to maximize efficiency in food production while minimizing waste and maintaining a healthy (and ideally self-sustaining) ecosystem. Some experts suggest that precision agriculture draws its roots from the adoption of mechanized processes of food cultivation in the early 20th century, continuing through the Green Revolutions of the 1960's, when new techniques of controlled irrigation became standard and newly developed high-yield strains of crucial grains were introduced in the form of dwarf wheat and hybrid rice. Today, precision agriculture is driven by technological innovation and careful analysis of continuously changing data in real time.
The use of advanced metrics for managing agricultural production is not just a cost-saving measure used by food producers; it is instead vital to keep up with the ever-increasing demand for nutritious food globally. One frequently cited statistic estimates that "world food production needs to increase by 70% to feed the world population in 2050", and to produce this food, "it is estimated that 52.8 million gallons of water per second are required".
Feeding the World's Present and Future Generations
Raising the world's net food production is no easy feat, especially when considering delicate environmental considerations. It is now abundantly clear that previous techniques used to maximize food production, like monocropping and concerted animal feeding operations (or CAFOS), are not sustainable in the long term.
This is where the role sensors play in precision agriculture systems come into play. One of the most important and commonly used sensors in agriculture is the soil moisture probe. Soil moisture is a critical factor influencing plant growth, nutrient uptake, and overall crop health, and maintaining the right soil moisture levels is essential for ensuring optimal conditions for plant development. Soil moisture probes can enable farmers to tailor irrigation schedules to the specific needs of each crop and can adjust accordingly. These probes use capacitance or impedance to provide accurate and real-time data about soil moisture levels. To further monitor and manage irrigation systems , pressure sensors are strategically placed within irrigation systems to measure water pressure. This data is then analyzed to determine if adjustments are needed to maintain an optimal water flow rate for different crops.
Of course, natural irrigation must be tracked and accounted for as well. Understanding local precipitation patterns empowers farmers to adapt and optimize their farming practices by gaining insights into rainfall patterns. Rain buckets, also known as rain gauges, operate on a simple yet effective mechanism, consisting of a funnel that directs rainwater to a calibrated container, which is then measured to determine the rainfall intensity. The next level of hydration tracking lies directly at the plant level.
Monitoring leaf wetness is crucial for preventing diseases, as excessive moisture on plant surfaces creates favorable conditions for pathogens to thrive. Early detection and management of these conditions are essential for crop protection. Leaf wetness sensors use conductive or capacitive methods to detect moisture on plant surfaces. These sensors provide real-time information about the duration and intensity of leaf wetness, helping farmers make informed decisions on irrigation and disease control.
All the sensors listed above are just pieces of the overall puzzle of developing and maintaining a precision agriculture operation. Every crop and plot of land may require or benefit from their own specialized monitoring systems, but each of these sensors and the resulting adaptations from the data make up the present and future of precision agriculture, with only new innovations and techniques to come.

Zenseio provides easy to use, long-range telemetry solutions for commercial farms, including remotely monitoring soil moisture, irrigation systems, and weather conditions. Zenseio solutions work with many of the most commonly used agricultural and industrial sensors, with more being made compatabile. To learn more about Precision Ag and how Zenseio makes it a reality, visit: https://zenseio.com/