Whether you’re a local farmer, a member of the Farm Service Agency or a USDA Information Technology specialist, odds are your work has been dramatically impacted by the rise of precision agriculture.
Precision agriculture, as described by Geoffrey Ling and Blake Bextine of Scientific American, “combines sensors, robots, GPS, mapping tools and data-analytics software to customize the care that plants receive without increasing labor”. This mass influx of data has rapidly transformed the agriculture industry, resulting in massive opportunities to leverage data insights to optimize farm operations. Ling and Bextine explain such advancements have proven to “improve time management, reduce water and chemical use, and produce healthier crops and higher yields—all of which benefit farmers’ bottom lines and conserve resources while reducing chemical runoff.”
The growing adoption of precision farming and big data insights has led to a greater demand for highly accurate, timely data, within every facet of agriculture. So how can farms and farm management teams begin the digitization process and keep pace with advancing farm technologies? A fantastic first step is capturing real-time farm data through digital agriculture forms.
Digital agriculture forms range from mobile Soil Tests to electronic Animal Health Checklists. What makes digital agriculture forms so powerful is the real-time nature of capturing and instantly routing data from the field, to the back-office. Mobile data capture solutions, like GoFormz, empower farm personnel to collect data in digital agriculture forms that look exactly like their existing paper documents (a familiar user interface that reduces on-boarding demands and streamlines data entry) straight from their mobile device. Because farm teams work predominantly in the field, GoFormz provides offline data entry capabilities, so users never need to worry about having a signal to do their jobs.
Digital farm data also allows for added visual context within mobile agriculture forms. For example, if a GoFormz user were completing an animal health inspection, they could include Images of hazards and concerns to help illustrate captured data. This Image could be further annotated using Sketch fields to highlight key concerns within the photo. Additionally, users can also include GPS data detailing the location of the inspection.
Once completed digital agriculture forms can be instantly routed to supervisors, veterinarians and other key-players, resulting in immediate responses to opportunities and obstacles. In our previous example, if an animal inspection concluded an animal was ill, an Automated Workflow could instruct the form to be immediately routed to a supervisor and veterinarian. This eliminates delays and provides the vital healthcare needed, as quickly as possible.
Finally, farm teams leveraging digital agriculture forms can run and schedule real-time reports, to gain a better understanding of their operation’s opportunities and trends. This is a key factor in precision agriculture and breaking from the ambiguity of traditional farming. While traditional farming relied on historical data, precision agriculture and modern farm advancements harness collected farm data to identify and apply transformative insights to practice.