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Crop scouting technology helping farmers use fewer resources

Crop Scouting: More Tech to Use Less

Plant Health is Paramount

Much like people monitor their own health, farmers pay close attention to the health of their crops to know when to step in and help. While people measure their blood pressure, monitor their exposure to harmful germs and bacteria, and take medicine when they’re ill, farmers regularly observe their crops for signs of stress.

Right now, across the northern hemisphere, farmers are scouting their crops for signs of potential issues. They do so to inform their decisions about crop protection, the collection of tools and practices designed to protect crops from weeds, pests, and disease.

Many farmers scout using a new generation of precise digital tools, advanced analytics, and powerful imaging devices, which help them make the most informed decisions possible.

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Many farmers scout using a new generation of precise digital tools, advanced analytics, and powerful imaging devices, which help them make the most informed decisions possible.

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See-and-Spray

All manner of crops benefit from the latest crop protection innovations. For example, roughly 25 percent of the U.S. lettuce crop is treated using “see-and-spray” technology. Sprayers with this ability can take a picture of the crops on the ground, calculating the exact location of weeds growing among the crops. This information is then transmitted to precise sprayer nozzles, which target only the weed, leaving the crop untouched.

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See-and-Spray

All manner of crops benefit from the latest crop protection innovations. For example, roughly 25 percent of the U.S. lettuce crop is treated using “see-and-spray” technology. Sprayers with this ability can take a picture of the crops on the ground, calculating the exact location of weeds growing among the crops. This information is then transmitted to precise sprayer nozzles, which target only the weed, leaving the crop untouched.

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Advanced Crop Sensors

Another recent innovation regarding crop scouting technology involves installing ground-mounted sensors around different types of produce crops. These can measure various climate indicators, such as soil moisture, temperature and barometric pressure, while also evaluating crop stress indicators. This allows farmers to make real-time decisions about the health of their crops, such as whether to water or add fertilizer.

Drones

Unmanned aerial vehicles, commonly known as drones, also provide scouting support. While still in the early-adopter phase among farmers, drones are taking advantage of rapid innovation in the area of sensor development. Modern cameras and imaging devices can be mounted on drones to reveal potential crop damage. Another technology, known as LIDAR, combines light and RADAR to produce high-resolution maps of fields, which can help farmers better understand the potential for damage from lack of rainfall, pests, disease, and weeds.

[unex_ce_indent_outdent_images layer-name="drones" headline_markup="" img="1195" image-filename="animation_rev2.2.gif" image_caption="Image Caption Text" image_caption_color="white" id="content_ci1y71w54" post_id="1185"] <h4>Drones</h4><p style="color:#5f5e65">Unmanned aerial vehicles, commonly known as drones, also provide scouting support. While still in the early-adopter phase among farmers, drones are taking advantage of rapid innovation in the area of sensor development. Modern cameras and imaging devices can be mounted on drones to reveal potential crop damage. Another technology, known as LIDAR, combines light and RADAR to produce high-resolution maps of fields, which can help farmers better understand the potential for damage from lack of rainfall, pests, disease, and weeds.</p> [/ce_indent_outdent_images]
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Satellites

Satellites have also proven valuable for crop protection purposes. A number of companies offer farmers subscriptions to satellite data gathered during scouting season. Equipped with hi-resolution cameras and thermographic sensors, the satellites can capture field-level information with tremendous precision, saving farmers valuable time. That information can include data about crop performance, analyzed within the context of historical field data, so farmers can readily identify trouble spots.

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Crop Protection Toolbox

Farmers refer to the tools and techniques for dealing with insects, disease, and weeds as the crop protection toolbox. These tools have evolved considerably from the days of labor-intensive techniques like hand weeding. Today, modern agriculture has equipped farmers with tools like advanced plant breeding, genetically modified seeds, and advanced crop protection products. These modern techniques support long-established crop protection practices, like crop rotation, tillage, and cover crops. In addition, the advent of precision sensing technologies is helping farmers discover potential problems earlier than was previously possible.

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Crop Protection Toolbox

Farmers refer to the tools and techniques for dealing with insects, disease, and weeds as the crop protection toolbox. These tools have evolved considerably from the days of labor-intensive techniques like hand weeding. Today, modern agriculture has equipped farmers with tools like advanced plant breeding, genetically modified seeds, and advanced crop protection products. These modern techniques support long-established crop protection practices, like crop rotation, tillage, and cover crops. In addition, the advent of precision sensing technologies is helping farmers discover potential problems earlier than was previously possible.

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Less is Better: For Farmers
and for the Environment

The primary reason farmers like precision scouting and crop protection is that it helps them discover potential problems early, so they can take action before a small problem becomes a large one. Precision sprayers allow farmers to use only the amount of crop protection product necessary to handle the problem, which reduces the possibility of overspraying or the product washing away during rain storms. When combined with other crop protection practices, this technology helps them apply product on a more targeted basis and in smaller amounts, which has a positive impact on their bottom line. And by reducing waste and runoff, they are limiting the impact of these products on the environment.

As with many of the practices that make up modern agriculture, the use of digital tools is helping farmers continue their legacy as the original stewards of the land. As they move the industry forward with technology, they remain committed to giving back to the land—their most precious resource.

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