Bored of having huge books about crops? Nowadays you can find everything on your smartphone. So what if you could type what you are growing into an app, which could then tell you how to take care of it? It would help you better manage your crops, increasing your yield and therefore your sales. In the context of climate change, the idea of better managing crops has never been as important as it is today. We have therefore looked at the development of tools facilitating this idea, helping in a sustainable way, resulting in less waste.
Now that knowledge is available for all at just one click thanks to our smartphones, there are several tools that will help you with producing, managing and then selling your crops. All the tools presented below relate to the goals described above.
AgBiz Logic : a suite of tools for professionals who are looking to prioritize profits
This suite offers clients a selection of five different tools. All of them have the purpose of facilitating the best possible decision making.
There is a profit tool that will tell you how profitable you are, depending on how you decide to invest. There’s one to help you get the best lease, and one on how the environment will be impacted based on your decisions. Another predicts how agricultural land will evolve due to climate change and creates projections in case of climate events. The last one, but not the least, is about the management of crop or livestock production: how an environment will react to the use of one type of pesticide or another, for example.
Figure 1 How AgBiz tools are related with each other
In the first figure you can see how AgBiz Logic has created its universe and how its tools interact with each other. The goal is to empower farmers so they don’t need to spend more money on help from specialists, using third-party employees.
AgroClimate: a tool for managing climate risk in agriculture
AgroClimate is an app covering the southeast of the United States, the purpose of which is to help in decision making concerning your crop. It aims to help you to better manage your production and reduce risk factors that can damage it. Clients have many variables at their disposal, such as projected drought, freeze risk, disease risk and so on. If an event such as El Nino happens, the app will tell you how it will affect your production, based on simulation models produced using historical events.
There’s even a carbon footprint calculator that will estimate how much energy you are using. The goal is to help producers increase their productivity while reducing risks.
The figure on the left shows how the app is designed. It’s possible to localize where your fields are, and once this is done you’ll receive advice on their management. The app will know when you started planting, in which type of soil your production is, and how it’s irrigated. The only drawback is that it’s only available for main crops such as corn, cotton or wheat.
The screenshot on the right represents another app produced by AgroClimate. It’s called “Strawberry Advisory System App” and it is designed specifically for strawberry growers. They will receive notifications whenever there is a risk of botrytis or anthracnose (fungi that will kill the fruit) proliferating in the area of production. It will give growers recommendations regarding when to apply fungicide to their strawberries. Producers will then be able to spend their money wisely.
Climate Smart Farming Tools
Cornell University, which has created Climate Smart Farming Tools, offers farmers located in the northeast of the United States a variety of free tools for them to use, available online. We can find tools that combine data from multiples sources so that farmers have everything in their possession for the best decision making about managing their fields.
One of the many tools they are proposing is intended to be used by apple producers. It’s named “CSF Apple Stage/Freeze Damage Probability”, and, as you can see from the screenshot below, the farmer can select a location, then set a date of interest that will be the first day of the 30-day results shown, and then choose between the three apple varieties proposed (only two are available currently).
It is in spring that apple trees, in the stage of blossom falling, are most subject to damage, due to spring frosts and early flowering caused by climate change. The estimation of temperatures is produced using a 2.5 x 2.5-mile grid that makes it possible to estimate temperatures for areas where there are no weather stations close by.
Another tool produced by the university is called “CSF Water Deficit Calculator”. As you can see from the screenshot below, once again farmers are able to select their location, the type of soil in which they are growing, which crop they have, and when crops were planted and irrigated.
The graph created shows whether the crop is in hydric stress or not, on a day-by-day basis. This prediction is possible because of the combination of historical climatological data, forecasted evapotranspiration and rainfall, and the information inputted by farmers. Crops are estimated to have roots going one foot deep into the soil and it is at this depth that water estimations are made. This tool enables growers to better plan their irrigation systems and therefore reduce water wastage.
In conclusion, as we saw, every tool presented above is working toward the same goal: better management of a crop, depending on which type it is, its location, the weather forecast – in fact, depending on a large number of variables that can affect each type of crop. Each tool takes account of localization on small scales so results are more precise and realistic. However, as we can see, there is no existing tool combining all of the aspects presented above; it would need a huge database to aggregate such a large quantity of information.
AgBiz Logic | U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit, Adress : https://toolkit.climate.gov/tool/agbiz-logic [Consulted on : 12/14/2018]
AgroClimate – Tools for Managing Climate Risk in Agriculture, Adress : http://agroclimate.org/ [Consulted on : 12/14/2018]
AgroClimate—Tools for Managing Climate Risk in Agriculture | U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit, Adress : https://toolkit.climate.gov/tool/agroclimate%E2%80%94tools-managing-climate-risk-agriculture [Consulted on : 12/14/2018]
Climate Smart Farming Tools, Adress : http://climatesmartfarming.org/tools/ [Consulted on : 12/14/2018]
Climate Smart Farming Tools | U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit, Adress : https://toolkit.climate.gov/tool/climate-smart-farming-tools [Consulted on : 12/14/2018].