17 December 2017
Wise soil: how telemetry helps agrarians cut down expenses

Do you think that the crop yield growth by 1.5 times, the increase in profitability by 30%, and 50% reduction in fertilizers and chemicals utilization are unattainable figures for farmers? Precision farming and telemetry prove them possible.

Efficiency vs. skepticism

Most agribusinesses refer to IT-innovations in their branch with skepticism. This attitude inhibits innovations implementation in the market – not all farmers have yet realized it is worth investing in gadgets for their existing machinery rather than buy new large-sized equipment. Everything is the other way round in Western Europe. Smart farming has already become a kind of business style there. Its distinctive features include the land bank management, precision farming, crops condition monitoring, agricultural machinery, fuel control, and product tracking.

Most of these intelligent technologies are based on telemetry – parameters measurements (sowing volumes, irrigation, fuel consumption, soil temperature, etc.) to collect which sensors are necessary. Their placement options can vary – sensors can be placed on tractors or harvesters, in shops or in cold rooms, on a weighing load cell in a grain storage facility or even in the soil.

Telemetry solves different issues. Operative data collection and transfer, various equipment management, accounting, and reporting are among the main ones,

says Artem Belenkov, director of the SmartFarming Company

telemetry

The complete telemetry algorithm looks as follows: a sensor, combined with a GPRS modem which in its turn is connected to a mobile operator network, collects data and transfers it to dedicated cloud storage. The data accumulated there is analyzed by dispatchers. Based on their report, an agronomist, along with a farm head, makes a decision on measures to be taken to reduce production costs and increase business profitability.

Three key pillars of telemetry

Many farmers still go on underestimating the possibilities of telemetry and the solutions in which it is utilized, even though the decisions taken using it pay off within one year. How is it done?

  1. The simplest way is to equip a tractor with a sensor and GPS navigation system.Using it, the farm can track land plowing, harrowing, sowing, fertilization, and irrigation. GPS-positioning allows plotting the most efficient movement pattern for machinery in the field, resulting in lower fuel consumption. As a bonus, the farmer gets a field map to conduct the necessary analysis. This is necessary to avoid gaps and overlaps when tilling lands and sowing, as well as for fertilizer batching.
  2. Telemetry helps to deal with dishonest employees’ contrivances. «Say, we’ve set up GPS monitoring, and consequently, started controlling fuel consumption – saving on fuel thefts and speed pattern when performing technological operations. We’ve also re-equipped our weighing load cell in the grain storage, reducing fraud. We can go on mentioning the benefits for a long time», — Artyom Belenkov provides examples.
  3. Logistics also opens wide opportunities for telemetry implementation. You can install sensors in the product storage facilities. If you monitor production lines, it will increase processed products volumes. Cargo transportation live tracking will reduce logistics expenditure.

Let’s combine all the most popular solutions to create a chart

the most popular solutions

Go deep down

The necessary amount of investment in telemetry depends on the activity specifics. It is worth considering that the resources are necessary both to purchase machinery and to further service it. That is why many farms utilize only stand-alone products while agribusiness holdings tend to take advantage of complex solutions.

For example, Kernel, Myronivsky Hliboproduct, and Astarta actively utilize telemetry. But most companies implement telemetry step-by-step – so they can rebuild their production processes resorting to relatively small investments. According to expert estimates, large-scale technology implementation will cost an agribusiness with a land bank of 10 thousand hectares approximately 250 to 300 thousand dollars.

However, smart farming will provide an opportunity to receive 10 to 20% extra crop yield even when separate tools are selectively applied in the production processes. Only due to the fertilizer application charts development it has become possible to increase the yield by more than 10%. And that is far from the limit.

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