Precision farming and Smart farming for dummies

Everyone working in the agriculture industry has definitely heard these two terms: precision farming and smart farming. People talk about them, magazines write about them, companies swear by them. But do we actually know what they mean, or do we suffer from speaking-about-it-without-knowing syndrome? You know, when people use these concepts in conversation in happy consensus – but ask them to define the term, and you are bound to get as many different (and usually very vague) stories as there are people.

As a 40-year-old woman with no background in agriculture, I knew nothing about precision or smart farming when I first heard about them. My initial thought: what exactly would imprecise or dumb farming look like…?

After some research, I have defined these two concepts, the way I would go about explaining them to someone like me.  This is “Precision farming and Smart farming for dummies”.

So, what is precision farming and smart farming?

Precision farming:

Simply put, farming that is more precise and accurate than before.

If you drive your tractor in a field, you like to be as exact as possible – that means you drive straight lines, and try not to overlap these lines. I do that with my lawnmower! It is highly satisfying when you see your exact lines going nicely side by side.  But for farmers, it is not only satisfying but it makes production more efficient, obviously. *Still thinking about the lawnmower lines.*

So, how precise is precise? The answer: very precise. We are not talking about metres or centimetres, but about millimetres. It sounds very sci-fi, doesn’t it! A huge tractor, and you don’t skip your line by more than 10 millimetres. Wow. I wish my lawnmower did that.

Smart farming:

(Farming) equipment that is smart, thanks to advanced technology integrated to them.

What it means is all sci-fi things (once again) that can go in your tractor, like robots, geo-mapping, automation, GPS, satellites, sensors, autonomous technologies and such. There are technological solutions pretty much to all kinds of work. But that’s not all. The cherry on top is how all the data is connected between these technologies, devices, computers and machines. THAT’S what makes the farming smart.

And being smart means that you get to do the precision farming, like robots in the movies.

It all comes full circle!

Of course there is still one question in my head, as usual: why? WHY do we want to be smart and do the precision farming like robots?

Is it because we want farms to be more efficient and farmers to be less stressed? Yes and no.

It is a good reason, but the core reason behind this is much nobler:

Population is growing and climate is changing; this challenges our food production processes and basically, the lives of people. Precision and smart farming are both a matter of responding to this challenge. And that is the reason why everyone should know about these two concepts. Even the 40-year-old woman with zero background in agriculture.

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