By Rémi Schmaltz While most industries have been using modern software solutions for years, the farming industry has been slower to adopt. Most farmers are still relying on paper and ink or at best, make use of spreadsheets and some type of general accounting software.
Why is this, when there are so many different agtech systems available? The answer may be just that – there are so many different agtech systems available.
Farming technology has come far in recent years and there is no longer any reason to shy away from embracing an FMS, as a good FMS will be streamlined and simplified.
And all those agtech systems can be confusing. There are some that provide traceability, others that focus on the growing process, and still others that specialize in crop marketing. Using several systems at once is a time-waster and increases the margin of error. What is needed is a complete farm management system (FMS) in one integrated platform.
A Complete Solution
There are only two ways to improve production: plant more acres of crop or increase the productivity of the land already in use. Embracing and integrating an FMS will enable farmers to achieve necessary production advances required to feed the world while finding efficiencies in productivity, traceability, and environmental stewardship.
Let’s look at some of the things a truly complete FMS should provide:
- Farm Management – to improve overall performance. This would include things like connectivity with the whole team for more efficient people management, the ability to see crop plans, a way to keep track of inventory and manage equipment records; even offline.
- Precision Agronomy – to increase yield, from soil testing to customized prescription field maps for seeding, chemical, and fertilizer.
- Crop Marketing – to grow farmer revenue. The platform should at least provide a custom crop marketing plan, margin and market tracking, and profit tracking and analysis based on the projected yield. Ideally, it would also provide things like market reports, hedge plan tracking, and training in these areas.
- Integration – to automate data collection. The platform should have numerous connections with sensors, hardware, and other software. The more API’s that the FMS has, the less data the farmer will have to enter and the more powerful the FMS will be for the farm.
- Service Providers – to allow the integration of trusted third-party service providers and their software. The platform should work with current, trusted service providers while enabling those service providers to be more efficient in the delivery of the services on the farm.
- Data Ownership – uncertainty around data ownership makes farmers wary about which company to work with. A high-quality, efficient FMS will communicate who owns the data and what ownership really means. Some platforms even revenue share with farms that opt to participate.
- Understanding of Agriculture – to know the ins and outs. This would include working with a company that has deep domain expertise in agriculture, really understands the challenges on the farm, and are passionate about making agriculture better.
- Empower the Farm – Farmers know their land the best and the FMS will help simplify insights into actionable decisions.
- Independence – Farmers want independent advice that is in their best interest and not connected to the sale of other products.
And speaking of training, a good FMS will also include one-on-one expert support and be open to farmer feedback and ideas on how to make the system even better.
The Future of Agriculture
Farming technology has come far in recent years and there is no longer any reason to shy away from embracing an FMS, as a good FMS will be streamlined and simplified. Modern farmers need not be forced to cobble together several systems, each specializing in different things and then try to keep them error-free. And the issue of connectivity on the farm is easily solved, with everyone having their own custom settings, alerts, and notifications.
FMS is an essential tool to help farmers meet market demands. The wealth of information it provides helps them to work smarter not harder, be more decisive and informed, and not left wondering over any component of the crops, business, market, or their employees.
For example, Decisive Farming is dedicated to increasing farmer’s profitability, sustainability, and technology ease-of-use by providing a single integrated farm management platform. Through strategic partnerships with leading distributors across the agriculture value chain like INTL FCStone and DTN, the platform has more than 5 million acres representing 1.5 billion in annual production and is being used on 40 different crop types in North America.
Take a Break from the Farm
Time is the most precious commodity we have. Yet, farming being the labor-intensive endeavor it is, farmers often must put in very long hours. But the right FMS can save valuable hours, freeing farmers up to spend more time on things they enjoy doing when not hard at work. Whether that be hunting, fishing, spending time with the family, or enjoying a beach vacation, everyone needs some R and R in order to recharge the batteries.
While even the most sophisticated, high-tech FMS on the market can’t solve every problem on the farm, utilizing one is a better and more efficient way to run an agricultural operation.
Plus, farmers and their workers can reap a bountiful harvest of benefits with the huge knowledge base, training, and support from the best FMS companies. More work can be done in less time because less time is wasted. From the initial planning to seeding, to market, and everything in between, a quality FMS can juggle it all with confidence.
The farmer can keep abreast of not only everything on the farm but the bottom line as well. With margin and market tracking, hedge plan tracking, market reports, and all things financial, farmers can enter the season with eyes wide open and continue to stay informed and on top of things.
More productivity. More time to enjoy life. Higher profits and peace of mind. The right FMS is a definite win for the farmer.
On a road trip through Xinjiang in 2012, Peng Bin saw how ageing farmers laboured in vast cotton fields with heavy tanks of pesticides strapped to their backs, spraying the chemicals without any protection.
“I could smell the acrid stench of pesticide from afar and I thought maybe my unmanned aircraft could help,” said Peng, 37, founder and chief executive of XAG, one of China’s biggest makers of agricultural drones. “At least drone spraying would limit the farmers’ exposure to the chemicals.”
It is also more cost-effective, an important consideration for the labour-starved agricultural industry in China. In general, a drone can do the same spraying job in 1/30th the time, and the more challenging the terrain, the more advantage a drone has.
Soon after the trip, Peng focused on producing drones for industrial use, instead of the consumer devices that hobbyists use to take holiday videos. That move proved prescient as demand for pesticide and fertiliser spraying soared with the decline in farm labour. Young people would rather work in factories, or wait tables and clean homes in big cities like Beijing and Shanghai, than toil in the fields.
For Peng, his chosen career marks a full circle of sorts for his family. Peng’s parents moved from the countryside to Sanming city in China’s southern Fujian province early on.
Peng himself was born and raised in the city. A computer science graduate from XiDian University in Xian, he worked for Microsoft for two years before starting a business in 2007 making consumer drones. He renamed the company XAG last year.
Boosting agricultural productivity is a top priority for China, which wants to lessen the country’s reliance on food imports. The government has set a target to produce 90 per cent of its own farming equipment by 2020, and the sector is one of the priorities in Beijing’s “Made in China 2025” strategic industrial plan.
Competition in agricultural drones is expected to heat up, with DJI, the world’s biggest maker of commercial drones, also identifying the sector for expansion.
The Shenzhen-based company sees its latest drones, including the Mavic 2 and Agras MG-1, as being squarely aimed at the industrial segment, which accounts for more than half of the global US$9 billion drone market.
A farmer looks at a drone spraying pesticide in his field in Jixian County, north China's Shanxi Province, in 2017. Photo: Xinhua
“One of the key areas for the enterprise business is [the use of drones] in agriculture,” Bill Chen, DJI’s enterprise partnership manager, said in an interview in January. “As the world’s population keeps growing we have to find more hi-tech ways to meet the rising demand for food.”
To stay ahead of the competition, Peng is looking beyond China for markets for his agricultural drones. XAG is now in 22 countries and regions, though those markets remain small in terms of contribution to revenue.
Like the Xinjiang road trip, Peng recently undertook another long drive, this time across the US, to get a first-hand understanding of the market.
Last month, Peng flew to Los Angeles with co-founder Justin Gong, rented an Infiniti QX80 SUV and went from the wine country in California’s Napa Valley, through Nevada, Utah and Wyoming. They stopped at Kansas City and St Louis in Missouri before pushing on to New York.
During the eight-day drive, they visited farmers and showed them demo videos of XAG’s drones, like travelling salesmen. Peng said some farmers showed interest and asked where they could buy the drones or send them for repair. One farmer invited them to his land and asked if the drones could monitor the crops and help him save on water, he said.
The drone maker is capitalising on China’s drive to boost agricultural productivity as the country seeks to lessen its reliance on food imports. Photo: Handout
“Great technology will benefit people globally no matter how competitive the two countries get with each other,” Peng said, when asked if the US-China trade war featured in his conversations with American farmers.
For now, the US is a small market for XAG, with China still accounting for 90 per cent of its revenue.
Besides drones, Peng plans to develop other agricultural technology. XAG is testing driverless mini tractors and robotic arms for picking fruit and tea leaves, and aims to introduce the products in 2021.
The ultimate aim, said Peng, is to reshape farming into a respected profession like medicine or engineering. The average annual disposable income of a rural resident in China was 14,617 yuan (US$2,443), or 37 per cent of a city dweller, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.Demand for agricultural drones is rising because of labour shortages in China. Agricultural drones are used for crop monitoring as well as pesticide spraying. Photo: Lea Li
Peng concedes it will take some time before China can erase the stigma of being a farmer in the country.
“Compared with overseas market like the US and Japan, our technology application into agriculture still lags far behind,” he said. “In the US, farmers have better lives than in China, from my observation.”
“Their farmland is well managed with technical equipment. The farmers are well-dressed and speak well. They seem to enjoy their lives more.”By Celia Chen , South China Morning Post
Do you confuse knowing with Learning ? Knowing is remembering, not learning. Say that over and over to yourself. We watch our dentist , this doesn't make us able to perform root canals. We read Scientific American, but it doesn't make us a scientist. As Einstein said, "Any fool can know. The point is to understand."
When we learn something new, we tend to assume that it creates a permanent imprint in our brains. This is simply not true. It's critical to be aware that when trying to learn something new, you might not remember it for very long - therefore, allowing for reflection and time to practice retrieval will be essential.
To support our continuous learning efforts, we need to understand what holds us back in the first place. Are we trying to shove our learning into a time frame that cannot support our efforts?
One reason individuals choose online learning is so that they can earn an education entirely online without travelling to a college campus or attending classes at fixed times
Many online education programs allow pupils to work at their own pace. Some students don't mind following the pace of a traditional course with the rest of the students. But, others become frustrated as they feel bored with slow-moving instruction or feel overwhelmed with material that they don't have time to understand. If working at your own pace is important to you, look no further, we offer flexible start and finish dates.
Our Online education programs are more affordable than in class room schools.
Online education allows professionals to continue their careers while working towards higher learning. Many career-oriented adults face a similar challenge: they need to keep their current position to stay relevant in the field. But, they need to further their education to go further. Online education can help solve both concerns.
Last year in 2018 at Clarion Drone Academy, we had over 17,114 hours of online student learning time.
Things to keep in mind as you plan your education for 2019
- Practice skills regularly -- even the skills we use consistently. There's always a better way.
- Carve out time to learn -- time that is sacred, time that is uninterrupted.
- Realize we aren't as smart as we think we are. Work your brain; don't just stuff it full of information that is untested.
Continuous learning takes effort!
So, get out of your own way and learn something new today.
The one-year pilot programme is one of the high-tech law enforcement measures SPF is rolling out to enhance its operational effectiveness and become a “smart force”, it said in a briefing on Wednesday (Apr 10) for this year’s Police Workplan Seminar.
These vehicles, called the Sky Aerial Response Command (Sky ARC), will each carry up to three drones.
Other incidents in which the drones could be used include tracking suspects across a large area, such as a forest. The drones are equipped with thermal imaging and can detect human presence.
The drones, which can fly to an altitude of a few hundred metres, will feed information and transmit images back to an integrated command and control system, said SPF.
In response to concerns about privacy, SPF said that the drones come with sirens and markings to make their presence clear to people in the area.
In addition, SPF will comply with existing government data storage and privacy policies.
Speaking on how the police intend to deal with privacy concerns, director of planning and organisation Assistant Commissioner Daniel Tan said: “It’s a matter of the trust we have with the public, and this is something we don’t take for granted.
“(This is) something that we have to emphasise to our officers and continue to have the systems and structures in place so that (there is) the trust with the public,” he added.
- Press | UAS Vision Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems, Ltd. (MHPS) is putting into practical service unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to more easily and efficiently inspect the interiors of power plant boilers and other large indoor structures. Demonstration testing for manually operated drones was completed last year, and MHPS plans to begin offering the inspection service from April 2019.
MHPS is also pursuing development of autonomous UAVs, together with research and development firm A.L.I. Technologies Inc. Basic technology verification tests were conducted using a prototype device, and were completed last year. MHPS’ production of the device and practical application is planned for fiscal 2020. The aim is to facilitate shorter downtimes of facilities, longer periods between regular inspections, and a quick and appropriate response to emergencies.
Manually operated UAVs used to inspect the inside of power plant boilers and other structures, will utilize MHPS’ collision and environment resistant technologies, and have been under development since fiscal 2016. The test demonstration in December of 2018 was conducted with the support of Mitsubishi Heavy Industry’s Research & Innovation Center, and the use of actual test facilities and boilers.
Autonomous UAVs purposed for inspections, have been jointly developed by MHPS and A.L.I. Technologies since fiscal 2017, using multiple test boilers and mockups of actual boiler environments. Basic technology verification tests conducted in September of 2018 confirmed the capability for autonomous flight without using GPS or other satellite positioning systems.
The practical application of UAVs using satellite positioning systems is already well advanced, but operational technologies in special environments, such as the inside of boilers, have yet to be established, making practical application a breakthrough technology.
A.L.I. Technologies’ business scope consists predominantly of drone-related applications and edge computing technologies.
MHPS, by developing drone-enabled power plant inspection technologies and providing advanced after-sales services for power generation facilities, will further enhance stable energy supplies and contribute to global economic development, while lessening the environmental load.
BY MARCUS WEISGERBER GLOBAL BUSINESS EDITORLifting an idea from the Army and a name from the Star Wars universe, the U.S. Navy is assembling a team of engineers, researchers, and even hackers to develop ways to fight off swarms of cheap commercial drones.
The so-called JYN effort is the latest in a series of steps the Pentagon has taken to speed up development of new systems that can defend against drones that are readily available for purchase and easily modified for war..
“This is necessary to enable the [Navy] to gain a competitive advantage over the commercial advancement of unmanned systems technology and potential for nefarious use against [Navy] facilities and assets,” James “Hondo” Geurts, who leads Navy acquisition, wrote in a March 28 memo.
Navy officials are working with the Defense Digital Service to create a “team of highly technologically skilled and driven military and civilian…personnel” to work “in collaborative, startup-like spaces to rapidly develop new [counter-drone] products to address the evolving [drone] threats,” Geurts wrote.
The project expands the Defense Digital Service’s “successful efforts forming, training, and managing joint-service and Army teams,” he wrote.
The Defense Digital Service’s Army counter-drone project is called Jyn Erso after the character in the Star Wars film Rogue One.
Sailors, Marines, and Department of the Navy civilians can apply for the positions on the counter-drone team. Specifically, they are looking for “software engineers, hardware engineers, hackers, security researchers, and other military and civilians with outstanding technical abilities,” Geurts wrote.
“This is an opportunity to grow the talent within the organization, leverage top technologists, learn new approaches, and bring them back to the [Navy],” he wrote.
The new announcement isn’t the first time that the Navy has sought ways to protect ships from swarms of small drones. In 2014, the Navy deployed a 30-kilowatt laser called the XN-1 LaWS aboard the amphibious transport dock Ponce in the Persian Gulf and released test footage of the laser shooting down a ScanEagle drone. Navy officials liked the idea of fending off enemy drone swarms with a laser that costs about a dollar per shot rather than $750,000 Standard missiles. The Navy bought two more of the lasers at $150 million each, with deployments scheduled for FY 2020.
Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria have weaponized small commercial drones, rigging them with explosives. Last year, a drone was reportedly used in an assassanation attempt on Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.
Even unarmed drones can cause chaos, particularly if struck by aircraft traveling at high speeds. In recent months, authorities have shut down major airports in London, Dubai, and Newark after small drones were found in the area.
From Checkpoint,Maja Burry, Rural reporter, Simon Rogers, Video journalist
Robots aren't just stealing human jobs, they're after man's best friend too - now there's a drone that can bark like a sheep dog.
The latest drone developments come as more farmers have started using the technology for work on the farm in recent years.
Drone specialist from Christchurch-based DJI Ferntech, Adam Kerr, said the uptake in drones for agricultural uses had now made the National Agricultural Fieldays in Hamilton one of the biggest events in the company's calendar.
"The past two years have seen farmers embrace drone technology to help with those jobs that are dirty, dangerous or just plain dull," he said.
Corey Lambeth, a shepherd on a North Canterbury sheep and beef farm near Rotherham, said his drone had made work such as moving stock and checking water and feed levels more efficient.
"Winter time it's ideal for flying it sitting at home on a cold day I don't want to go outside, so I fly my drone round, have a look make sure all my stock are behind the wire.
"Also when we're lambing we can fly it round, it's ideal with the [camera] zoom, going right in, looking at it [the drone monitor], not even disturbing the ewes," Mr Lambeth said.
Corey Lambeth using the drone. RNZ / Simon Rogers
The latest drone model, the $3500 DJI Mavic Enterprise, can record sounds and play them over a speaker - allowing a dog's bark, or other noises, to be loudly projected across a paddock.
Mr Lambeth said this feature helped move stock along faster during mustering while stressing the animals less than a dog could.
Cows could sometimes become protective of their calves and try to lunge at farm dogs when they got too close, he said.
"That's the one thing I've noticed when you're moving cows and calves that the old cows stand-up to the dogs, but with the drones, they've never done that," he said.
Mr Lambeth said while some farmers might consider it lazy, a drone could save them time and money.
His employer, fourth generation farmer Ben Crossley, bought a drone after seeing how Mr Lambeth was using his for day-to-day work on the farm.
Mr Crossley said while some farmers struggled with the new technology, it was important to keep up.
"Just trying to get efficiencies too, to just save time, it can sometimes take half a day to find a water leak, whereas with a drone you can zip around and have it done in an hour at the longest," he said.
"I used to go an see my grandfather every night, he lived on the farm, and he used to even struggle with cellphones, so yeah, a drone would be a shock for him," Mr Crossley said.
While drones were a new part of the farming tool-kit, Mr Lambeth said technology could sometimes let you down, especially in trying weather conditions.
"With real severe wind and that, you couldn't fly a drone in it [and] with the rain as well, which I'm sure they'll be making developments on to make it more durable in winter time ... but that's when you'd use the dog on wet days," he said.
Mr Lambeth said he had no plans to start leaving his five dogs at home when it was time to go to work.
"There's definitely going to be places for dogs always on farm, the one downside of the Mavic [drones] or anything electronic is you still need to bring them in and charge them," he said.
The life span of a drone could not compete with 10 years of well look after dogs, Mr Lambeth said.
The barking drone, the Mavic 2 Enterprise. RNZ / Simon Rogers
RNZ / Simon Rogers
RNZ / Simon Rogers
RNZ / Simon Rogers
RNZ / Simon Rogers
RNZ / Simon Rogers
RNZ / Simon Rogers
Waiau River in North Canterbury. RNZ / Simon Rogers
RNZ / Simon Rogers
Michael Smee - CBC News Research shows drones can cut down response times 6 minutes in urban centres and 10 minutes in rural centres. Dr. Sheldon Cheskes with one of the talking defibrillators that can be carried to emergency scenes via drone. (Grant Linton/CBC)
Peel Region councillors will hear a pitch later today from a doctor who wants to add a new component to their emergency response fleet: defibrillator-carrying drones.
Dr. Sheldon Cheskes, medical director at the Sunnybrook Centre for Prehospital Medicine, said drones can beat fire trucks and ambulances to the scene of a cardiac arrest, and that could be a life-saving difference.
"Our research shows when we set up drones we can cut down response times six minutes in urban centres [and] almost 10 minutes in rural centres," Cheskes said.
"So if I can cut down 10 minutes in a response time in a rural area, we can make a big difference potentially to saving lives. It may be futuristic but it makes sense from a logistics point of view."
He said his model would involve equipping some ambulance stations with drones that are fitted with automated external defibrillators, also known as AEDS. When a 911 call comes in for a cardiac arrest victim, a defibrillator-bearing drone would be dispatched, along with fire and ambulance crews.A diagram showing how defibrillator-bearing drones could change the way emergency services are delivered. (Region of Peel )
Bystanders would be instructed through a recorded voice in the defibrillator how it should be used.
"That's the beauty of it because we know that when bystanders provide shocks through defibrillation the chance of survival is almost four times more than if we wait for EMS to get there," he said.
Other jurisdictions in the U.S. and Europe have tried similar systems, he said, but "we're the first ones in the world to actually try to implement this as part of an EMS response."
Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie said her community is always looking at ways to improve access to AEDs. (Mehrdad Nazarahari/CBC)
Cheskes said he's not sure how much the system would cost to implement and run.
As for the web of regulations that control drone use in urban areas, he said he's confident drone companies contracted by municipalities would know how to operate within the rules.
Even so though, he said the current system probably couldn't work within built-up areas like downtown Toronto.
More research needed
"The issue in a really urban centre, with lots of high rises, is that the technical parts are very difficult because of wind shear," he said.
Cheskes said he's hoping the Region will agree to do more research on the idea, to determine how feasible it could be.
Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie wouldn't speak to CBC Toronto on camera. But in an email, she called the idea "interesting."
"I agree that we need to explore innovative ways to get life-saving technology, including AEDs, in the hands of the people who need it, when they need it," she wrote.
"The Region of Peel has a successful community PAD/AED program that has placed hundreds of AEDs in public places. We are always looking at how we can improve access, response times, success rates and confidence with the public in operating these devices. I look forward to hearing Dr. Sheldon Cheskes proposal at Regional Council."
BY SUSAN MILLER The Army's Engineer Research and Development Center wants to put radar systems that identify environmental phenomena on unmanned aerial and ground vehicles so they can be used to survey previously inaccessible locations and cover more territory from the air.
Currently, ground-penetrating radar systems are large arrays mounted on the front of military vehicles to detect improvised explosive devices. Smaller commercial versions exist as well.
Ground penetrating radar has non-military uses as well; it is currently being used to find cracks and corrosion in pavement. The Robotics Assisted Bridge Inspection Tool – a Volkswagen Beetle-sized robotic machine has been tested by the Federal Highway Administration’s Office of Bridges and Structures. It has also been used in Haymarket, Va., to assess the condition of bridge decks.
Ground-penetrating radar devices have not yet been mounted on small unmanned systems, however, primarily because of size, weight and power constraints. The Army wants the radar-on-a-chip technology to deliver a digital map that shows the shapes, sizes and features of objects in the environment.
Contractors will be asked to collect data on inert unexploded ordinance (UXO), synthetic tracer material and flora and fauna using radar on a chip operating between 100MHz and 5GHz attached to an unmanned system. The objects of interest may be buried, unburied or partially buried in a 20-square-meter area at the Army's Engineer Research and Development Center in Vicksburg, Miss., consisting of flat, sloping, underground, indoor and vertical terrain.
The success of the program would alleviate some of the limitations of traditional ground-penetrating radar technology for UXO detection, improve mapping of tracer material and better identify flora and fauna.
In 2018, the Army Research Lab worked with researchers at the University of Delaware on a system that combines traditional cameras, thermal infrared sensing and ground-penetrating radar that probes the surrounding environment, spotting objects buried up to three to five inches. The multi-camera system could be deployed on autonomous vehicles, drones or robots before troops are sent into an area.