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11 Precision Agriculture Technologies You Must Know About in 2024 [Full Review]

The agricultural sector is evolving into a technology-driven industry, and precision agriculture technologies are at the forefront of this evolution.

Precision agriculture technologies help to manage resources better and produce greater yields while improving water management, reducing waste, and limiting negative environmental impacts.

So, what does ‘precision agriculture’ mean, exactly? And what are the top precision agriculture technologies?

Data sharing and access to global imaging form the foundation of precision agriculture, which takes farming into the digital age like never before.

Today, we’re looking at the top precision agriculture companies and the innovative technologies they use.

Let’s dig right in!

What is Precision Agriculture?

Precision agriculture uses improved farming techniques and practices to meet the growing demand for food.

The term “precision” ensures sustainability by adopting a more accurate, resource-efficient approach to crop and livestock management.

Efficient and effective agricultural practices incorporate modern technologies to improve crop quality and profitability while reducing potential waste.

In essence, precision agriculture is the implementation of technology-based agricultural management systems to improve yields while optimizing traditional resources.

Precision agriculture promotes and enables sustainable agricultural practices. Real-time identification of problem areas allows prompt actioning of the best solutions.

The critical difference between precision agriculture and traditional farming is the ability to manage fields by dividing them into separate zones instead of treating them as a single block.

This allows for actions specific to identified zones that might be underperforming for various reasons.

Actions include adjusting irrigation, regulating fertilizer amount, and addressing the onset of weeds, pests, and infestations.

Effective management reduces waste and costs while dealing with and mitigating troublesome issues.

Precision agriculture technologies and techniques are also embedded in livestock farming. Technology tools help to optimize grazing through informed field rotation.

Additionally, the health of every animal can be individually monitored, allowing for immediate response and containment of potentially devastating issues.

Knowing precisely what is happening with planted fields and livestock is crucial to precision agriculture.

Data derived from various sources helps streamline operations and mitigate possible pitfalls.

Watch this short introductory video by Discover Agriculture to learn more about precision agriculture.

Why is Precision Agriculture So Important?

Precision farming caters to a global population of nearly 8 billion people using fewer resources than ever before.

Advanced technology is utilized for farming vast fields with equipment guided by satellites for improved accuracy.

To achieve this, precision agriculture manages, tracks, and enhances crop or livestock production inputs.

This increased accuracy involving seed, feed, fertilizer, chemicals, water, and time improves efficiency, commodity quality, and yield.

Dr. Pierre Robert, known to some as “the father of precision agriculture,” was the first to research variable rate fertilizer spreading.

His research established that different areas of a field have different crop yields. In turn, these areas have different nutrient requirements to produce optimal yields.

This widely accepted acknowledgment led to the development of variable rate field management systems that farmers use today.

According to the USDA’s Economic Research Service, variable rate technology (VTR) is used to plant 5-25% of total U.S. planted acreage for winter wheat, cotton, sorghum, and rice.

VRT requires specialized machinery with automated controls for input flow rates.

It also requires an integrated sprayer or seeding equipment generally tailored to a specific crop. This makes VRT harder to interchange with other crops.

The first yield monitor, created in 1992, paved the way for the implementation of precision agriculture. Yield monitors record observable changes in crop yields across an entire field.

This data is often paired with grid sampling. Taking soil samples from grid points mapped out on a field provides a map of input adjustments aimed at growth consistency to improve yields.

How Precision Agriculture is Implemented

Farmers utilize research on weather patterns, soil temperature and humidity, growth, and other factors to manage their operations better.

They rotate crops to improve diversity and monitor irrigation rates to mitigate salts accumulating in the soil.

They utilize precision agriculture techniques to apply nutrients, water, seeds, and other inputs for crop growth in diverse soil environments. With these tools, farmers know when to apply these inputs and at what rate.

Technology helps to make modern agriculture more efficient. Global positioning systems (GPS) and GPS-computer-guided equipment promote farming efficiency.

Other geo-referenced site-specific practices include:

  • Electromagnetic soil mapping
  • Soil sample collection
  • Crop yield data collection
  • Aerial imagery
  • Crop or soil color index maps
  • Soil types
  • Soil characteristics
  • Drainage level
  • Potential yields

Each geo-referenced data layer helps subdivide a large field into smaller management areas. This management practice reduces waste and increases production potential.

Farmers can thus produce more food at a fraction of the cost, contributing to a stable food supply.

Types of Precision Agriculture and Its Components

Technological modernization is at the forefront of more streamlined, efficient, and effective business operations.
Precision agriculture is a product of such advancements.
Listed below are some of the primary technologies driving precision agriculture.

1. GPS/GNSS

Modern agriculture heavily relies on Global Positioning Systems (GPS) and Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS). These systems were first made available in the 1990s and have since been utilized to simplify agricultural operations with precision.

GPS/GNSS systems are essentially the foundation of precision agriculture, enabling farmers to accurately locate their crops and monitor their growth.

2. Imagery

Imagery has become necessary for farmers to make informed decisions about their crops. It provides information on crop health, soil quality, and other factors that help to optimize yields and reduce waste.

3. Mobile Devices

The development of mobile devices. In recent times, cell phones have transformed into a diverse range of handy mobile gadgets, which include tablets and smartphones. Information can be sent and received in real-time, allowing immediate actions to be taken.

4. Robotics

Automated robots have become an integral part of various agricultural activities, including planting greenhouse crops and pruning vineyards.

The use of robotics helps to streamline operations, minimize labor expenses, and enhance overall efficiency. Additionally, telematics is utilized to remotely control autonomous machines with great accuracy.

5. Irrigation

Water is a crucial resource that is quickly becoming scarce due to prolonged droughts, aquifer depletion, and water allocations.

Innovations in precision irrigation technologies allow growers to monitor and control almost every facet of their irrigation operation remotely.

Farmers can incorporate soil moisture monitoring, weather data, and variable-rate irrigation (VRI) into their systems with new irrigation technologies.

Precision Mobile Drip Irrigation is another major advance. A center pivot or linear move irrigation system pulls the dripline through the field.

By delivering water directly to the soil surface, the amount of water lost through evaporation and wind drift is significantly reduced, enabling a greater volume of water to penetrate the root zone.

6. Internet Of Things (IoT)

This is a recent development in precision agriculture. Accessing data by connecting any device to the internet is immeasurable in streamlining farming operations.

Connected components in agriculture include field sensors that log real-time weather, soil moisture, and temperature data. This also includes aerial/satellite imagery for field monitoring.

7. Sensors

Wireless sensors used in precision agriculture allow farmers to gather data on numerous field variables, including:

  • Soil water availability
  • Soil compaction
  • Soil fertility
  • Leaf temperature
  • Leaf area index
  • Plant water status
  • Local climate data
  • Insect/disease/weed infestation

Advanced sensor technologies enable more precise water management. Increased water regulations in the U.S. continue to drive improvements in this area.

Moisture sensors are increasingly being utilized by producers in California to assist with the scheduling of irrigation. In addition, real-time sensor data has become more crucial in recent times.

8. Variable-Rate Application (VRA) Seeding

Farmers can boost their yields with the help of VRA technology, which focuses on the factors that affect seed growth. This is particularly important because, unlike variable-rate fertilizer, seeding with VRA relies on precise data for the beginning of the agricultural process, which is the seed.  At present, VRA seeding practices are utilized on only 5% to 10% of the total planted acres.

Acquiring useful data for VRA seeding is steadily improving, attracting more farmers to use this practice in their operations.

9. Weather Modeling

Weather trackers are common in agricultural retail locations. Quality weather modeling assures good crop yields.

Soil temperature is key in maintaining crop quality and integrity when harvesting certain crops like potatoes. Remote soil reading enables a more efficient harvest.

10. Nitrogen Modeling

Nitrogen modeling has attracted much attention lately and is taken from the variable-rate application blueprint. However, the fact that the nitrogen cycle is constantly in flux makes managing nitrogen difficult.

Simply put, nitrogen modeling is a technique used to predict the amount of nitrogen crops require.

This is typically based on various factors such as soil type, weather conditions, and crop type.

Nitrogen modeling helps to optimize the use of nitrogen fertilizers while reducing environmental pollution and increasing crop yields.

The economic benefit to farmers is that the process can reduce the required fertilizer.

11. Standardization

There is a consistent call for compatibility across equipment manufacturers’ components — primarily through ISOBUS standards.

Around eight years ago, the Agricultural Industry Electronics Foundation was established to kickstart official initial efforts. The foundation comprises more than 170 companies, associations, and organizations that are working together to standardize their efforts.

However, industry participants who deal with equipment compatibility continue to be frustrated. Third-party technical experts often struggle to manage competing suppliers’ products.

Formalized standards aim to reach a threshold where components are interchangeable. Although compatibility is improving, it remains an issue.

11 Best Precision Agriculture Technologies in 2024

These are the top companies that have made serious inroads into making precision agriculture an accessible reality:
 

Trimble logo

Trimble

HQ Location
Colorado, USA
Founded
1978
Num. of Employees
10,001+
Trimble Homepage

Trimble offers various GNSS positioning services to provide consistent, repeatable, high-accuracy solutions for a wide range of applications.

The company provides reliable, easy-to-use precision technology to the agricultural sector, among others. Their precision agriculture hardware, software, and cloud-based platforms meet the needs of farmers globally.

Trimble Agriculture technology simplifies and improves accuracy and efficiency across farming operations.

With greater precision, resource management is improved to produce a reliable food supply in a profitable and environmentally sustainable manner.

Trimble solutions are compatible with most farm equipment, regardless of manufacturer or production year.

Core technologies and solutions include guidance and steering, flow and application control, water management, desktop and cloud-based data management, and positioning services.

The company offers a variety of GNSS positioning services to provide repeatable, high-accuracy results.

Trimble RTX®, Real Time eXtended, is its precise point positioning (PPP) technology that provides real-time, high-accuracy positions in the field via satellite or internet.

Trimble Centerpoint® RTX correction services is a highly rated satellite or IP-delivered GNSS positioning service.

It gives farmers repeatable accuracy at 2.5 cm (1 in.) without signal interruptions or a base station.

CenterPoint VRS was created for water management and broadacre applications that include:

  • Drainage
  • Drip Irrigation
  • Land Forming
  • Strip-till
  • Planting/ Seeding
  • Spraying
  • Spreading
  • Harvesting
 
Planet logo

Planet

HQ Location
San Francisco, California, USA
Founded
2010
Num. of Employees
501-1,000
Planet Homepage

Planet was founded to image the Earth daily and make change visible, accessible, and actionable.

The company is creating a global stream of satellite imagery that can be fed into various applications. With 450 satellites built and successfully deployed, Planet collects over 350M sq. km of imagery daily.

Their high-resolution, high-frequency satellite solutions provide critical insights to support productive, profitable, and sustainable farming.

Farmers can measure crop health from preseason to harvest, enabling more effective farming practices.

Planet provides a web-geo platform with the highest frequency satellite data available and foundational analytics to derive insights.

Their high-resolution satellite imagery enables large-scale precision agriculture, even in regions with frequent cloud cover.

The company provides broad area coverage, field-level detail, frequent in-season revisit rates, and rapid access. With cloud-based APIs, Planet data can easily be integrated into your software pipeline.

Planet’s 3.7-meter resolution satellite imagery stream enables precision digital agriculture and pest detection at scale. Access to this daily data allows for informed crop management decisions.

Farmers can track crop health and changes daily and detect disease, pests, and nutrient deficiencies with dense vegetation analysis and vitality alerts.

 
Farmers Edge logo

Farmers Edge

HQ Location
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Founded
2005
Num. of Employees
201-500
Farmers Edge

Farmers Edge is a company passionate about sustainable farming that drives its initiatives with digital innovation.

They are creating intelligent technologies to help farmers become more efficient and successful in producing and distributing food.

Digital connectivity is at the core of their business, allowing farmers to run their farm operations from the kitchen table.

The 2020 release of their platform, FarmCommand®, sports a new user experience that makes it easier to navigate. It simplifies the management of critical farm information and offers a centralized way to manage farm operations with an easy-to-use interface.

The FarmCommand platform includes new digital tools, integrations, and advancements that streamline daily activities.

Furthermore, it delivers valuable insights for smarter decision-making to maximize yields and profitability.

Farmers Edge also offers Full-Serve Solutions supported by professional boots-on-the-ground teams to provide farmers with data-driven agronomic solutions.

This includes comprehensive soil sampling and analysis at their dedicated, state-of-the-art labs.

They also offer grid or zone mapping, soil sampling, recommendations, and prescriptions for seeding, fungicide, fertilizer, and desiccation.


FarmWise logo

FarmWise

HQ Location
Santa Clara, California, USA
Founded
2016
Num. of Employees
51-200
FarmWise Homepage

FarmWise builds smart and autonomous robots to solve the problem of weeds in vegetable farming. They aim to develop and provide affordable and reliable vision systems to power farm equipment with ultra-precision.

Automated weed control is their first project, eliminating the need for hand-weeding crews for more than 20 vegetable crops.

The company offers a productive mechanical weeding implementation and a training and support program.

The Vulcan weeder has been extensively tested and is now available to vegetable farmers in the U.S. The Vulcan was launched at the World Ag Expo, where it was included in the Expo’s Top-10 New Products list.

The Vulcan weeding implement incorporates cutting-edge computer vision into a lightweight, open cultivator frame.

It is supported by advanced machine learning and actuation control software for reliable and consistent sub-inch weeding accuracy.

Vulcan removes weeds inter-row and intra-row with precision. Weeding can be monitored through the FarmWise in-cab monitor.

This minimalistic interface allows the operator to adjust the microblade for added precision.

It is powered by the Intelligent Plant Scanner, a high-performance, tightly integrated combination of camera, lighting, and computation elements.

 
Netafim logo

Netafim

HQ Location
California, USA
Founded
1981
Num. of Employees
51-200
Netafirm

Netafim’s innovative technology ensures that water and nutrients are delivered accurately and directly to the roots of individual plants.

Thanks to precision drip irrigation supplies, farmers can achieve higher crop yields with better quality while using fewer resources. The company strongly believes that precision drip irrigation technology should be accessible to farmers worldwide. The idea is to help countries without viable farmable land produce high-value crops without overwatering.

 

Netafim utilizes drip and micro-irrigation technologies. They have agronomists working with farmers who offer personalized support, guidance, and best practices.

They can access the most accurate, up-to-date global intelligence on precision irrigation systems.

Their drip irrigation systems benefit any agricultural operation, regardless of crop, climate, soil type, or topography.

Frequent delivery of small doses of water and essential nutrients directly to the root of a plant reduces runoff and evaporation loss. Entire systems can even be automated.

This provides good soil aeration, eliminates wet foliage that can cause fungal disease, and offers many other benefits.

 
Digiteum logo

Digiteum

HQ Location
Szafarnia, Poland
Founded
2010
Num. of Employees
51-200
Digiteum logo

Digiteum is a custom software development company. They cover all aspects of the software development cycle, including business analysis, software architecture, design, development and testing, and project management.

The company’s agricultural roots stem from the 90s, thanks to the adoption of GPS-satellite, which benefited farmers.

Now, more technologies allow farmers to gather more precise data, including stationary IoT solutions for precision agriculture.

Digiteum develops and provides digital tools that allow farmers to monitor various metrics in daily operations continuously.

These include the amount and nature of nutrients that crops require for optimum growth, soil samples, fertilizer inputs, etc. Farmers can make better decisions across all their fields when they have a more comprehensive understanding of the status of their crops.

Digiteum provides digital technology for farm management that increases data accessibility. Thanks to cloud-based technologies, the necessary data is free to access anytime from any device.

Controller tools are commonly used in IoT-based precision agriculture technology.

CropX logo

CropX

HQ Location
San Francisco, California, US
Founded
2020
Num. of Employees
51-200
CropX Homepage

CropX is grounded in farming, agronomy, hydrology, machine learning, engineering, and tech. They focus on innovations in soil sensor technology and digital platforms to access data and generate insights from sensors.

The company operates across four continents, with offices in the US, the Netherlands, Israel, and New Zealand.

They moved to Israel in 2017 to draw from Israel’s deep history and expertise in water-efficient irrigation technologies.

In 2019, CropX acquired CropMetrics, a precision irrigation company located in Nebraska, U.S., to include pivot irrigation systems.

CropX also acquired Regen, a New Zealand precision irrigation company, in 2020, Dacom Farm Intelligence in 2021, a precision agriculture company based in the Netherlands, and Tule Technologies in 2023, a leading sensor company.

Their sensor solutions help farmers make more timely, precise, and value-added agronomic decisions. Sensor technologies increase connectivity among people, devices, and machinery to help track conditions and activities across fields.

The CropX system offers farmers real-time mobile and desktop insights and advice on irrigation, disease control, and nutrient management. These are based on above-ground crop sensing data and below-ground soil monitoring.

CropX sensor technologies increase connectivity among people, devices, and machinery to help track conditions and activities across fields.

Sensors capture data on soil moisture, soil temperature, and EC Sat. Paste enables CropX to generate recommendations on what a plant requires before the plant starts showing stress.

CropX uses a patented, spiral-design soil sensor and a top-of-the-line telemetry device to capture data.

The soil sensor provides accurate, real-time soil readings while being an easy-to-install, self-contained device.

The patent-pending spiral design prevents the preferential flow of water, resulting in more accurate readings. The telemetry device allows sensors from other manufacturers to send data to the CropX cloud.

EOS DATA logo

Eos Data Analytics

HQ Location
California, US
Founded
2014
Num. of Employees
201-500
EOS Data Homepage

Eos Data Analytics offers effective variable rate seeding strategies for higher yields. They focus on providing GIS precision farming to save time and resources while cutting costs.

EOS Data Analytics has launched seven optical satellites into a low earth orbit. EOS SAT is the world’s first agri-focused satellite constellation uniquely designed to serve the agricultural sector.

Their satellite imagery analytics enable the implementation of variable rate seeding technology, leading to improved yields and savings on operational expenses.

Variable rate seeding technology is largely based on combining field knowledge and satellite imagery data.

The sowing rate is adjusted by the company using tools and algorithms that take into account various factors such as soil properties, topography, and weather conditions.

The EOSDA Crop Monitoring satellite-based precision agriculture platform provides remote sensing data that enables precision planting at variable rates.

Defined field zones can be transferred into farming machinery via ISO-XML or SHP files. SHP files can be adapted to the technical requirements of machinery brands like Trimble, Amazone, and John Deere.

DTN logo

DTN

HQ Location
Minnesota, US
Founded
1984
Num. of Employees
1,001-5,000

DTN is engrained in agribusinesses, delivering news, market updates, and weather intelligence quickly and accurately.

Through innovative precision agriculture technologies, the company provides agronomic, weather, grain marketing, ag policy, and farm-level expertise.

More than 50,000 farmers and agribusiness partners throughout the U.S. rely on their data and insights.

The DTN weather data network features over 26,000 weather observation points.

The company holds many international certifications based on globally recognized standards. These include ISO 9001, ISO 27001, ISO 22301, ISO 45001 and ISO 14001.

Technology: DTN provides a cloud-native, global weather data platform to enable the modeling of historical and new inputs into a single environment to deliver precise forecasts.

Numerous forecasting models and unique industry-specific datasets offer actionable operational intelligence for risk management.

Adapt-N logo

Adapt-N

HQ Location
Texas, USA
Founded
2013
Num. of Employees
501-1,000

Adapt-N was acquired by Ever.Ag in March 2024, and integrated as part of our FieldAlytics digital agronomy solution. This is a cloud-based recommendation platform for farmers and agronomists.

Adapt-N provides a simple way for growers, agronomists, and agricultural partners to access trusted, unbiased solutions through a platform and product. 

Multiple data points are employed that are specific to individual fields. Adapt-N creates variable rate nitrogen recommendations automatically every 24 hours.

Users have total control when configuring each field, whether a flat or variable rate input.

The technology leverages cloud technology, proven science, and on-farm data to deliver large-scale, field-specific solutions.

AEF logo

AEF

HQ Location
Gütersloh, Germany
Founded
2008
Num. of Employees
0-1 employees
AEF Homepage

The Agricultural Industry Electronics Foundation (AEF) is an independent organization founded by seven international agricultural equipment manufacturers and two associations.

Currently, eight manufacturers and three associations are working as core members together with 200 general members.

Their goal is to improve cross-manufacturer compatibility of electronic and electric components and to establish transparency about compatibility issues.

AEF’s goals are admirable as they reject the notion that farmers should buy all their machinery from one manufacturer.

This fuels the desire for standards within the industry and the need to establish transparency about compatibility. There is also a need to provide farmers with relevant information before purchasing agricultural machinery.

The ISO 11783 (ISOBUS) standard defines the communication between agricultural machinery, mainly tractors and implements.

It also refers to the data transfer between mobile machines and farm software applications. The AEF develops guidelines that add to the ISO standard, allowing for precise definitions of ISOBUS functionalities.

This provides clarity regarding the compatibility of ISOBUS products.

The AEF provides a database of all ISOBUS products and components that customers and dealers can access.

The AEF ISOBUS Database is also available as an app for Android and iOS. The AEF ISOBUS CheckTool was designed for quick and easy troubleshooting of ISOBUS components.

Final Thoughts on Precision Agriculture Technology

Precision agriculture technologies have positively revolutionized contemporary farming practices. Improved agricultural land use and technologies supporting plant and livestock health have resulted in more efficient and effective practices.

Integrating digital technology into traditional farming practices stems from the need for GPS Precision technologies.

These include utilizing GPS-related systems, GPS soil, yield mapping, and variable-rate input applications. Farmers can now access information on changing field conditions and adjust production practices.

With a growing global population, agricultural production must also increase, but requires improved management of the world’s agricultural resources.

Incorporating precision agriculture technologies into operations helps minimize the negative environmental impact.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the role of AI in Precision Agriculture?

AI machine learning is a data-driven approach that empowers algorithms to learn from patterns and trends in data. This enables accurate predictions for future events. AI technology relies on large amounts of data collected through sensing technologies like remote sensing, soil sensors, GPS, and IoT devices. AI-derived algorithms analyze data, providing valuable insights and predictions for precision crop management, intelligent irrigation, etc. Read the full article to learn more.

Why is smart pest and disease management important?

Precision farming utilizes sensors and data analysis to detect pests and diseases early. This allows for targeted interventions that reduce the need for widespread chemical treatments. This is an integral part of sustainable farming as it greatly reduces chemicals and optimizes yields. Read the full article to learn more.

How does precision farming rate against traditional farming?

To begin, precision farming optimizes the use of resources, reduces the impact on the environment, and reduces labor requirements. Traditional farming resource usage is varied and often inefficient, can be detrimental to the environment, and is often labor intensive. There are many examples of precision farming advantages over traditional farming. Still, the initial cost and willingness to adapt and implement new farming techniques are a concern. Read the full article to learn more.

References

NIH: Precision Agriculture for Crop and Livestock Farming

American Farm Bureau Federation: Why is Precision Agriculture Important?

AgriHunt: What is Precision Agriculture and Why is It Important?

USDA: Precision Agriculture Technologies and Factors Affecting Their Adoption

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