More And More Czech Farms Are Introducing Precision Agriculture
Precision architecture is seeing increasing use in the Czech agricultural sector, bringing with it modernisation and productivity gains. Credit: MENDELU
Brno, Dec 21 (BD) – “In recent years, so-called precision agriculture has become increasingly popular in Czech fields,” said Vojtěch Lukas from the Institute of Agrosystems and Bioclimatology at Mendel University. “Navigation connected via GPS, Glonass or Galileo satellites have become standard equipment of mechanization as well as sensors for yield mapping in harvesting technology. Growers are looking for ways to make the most of this technique. More and more farms are also dosing fertilizers based on the results of soil nutrient mapping or crop condition assessment using spectral measurements.”
On the other hand, he admits that the introduction of precision farming technologies is associated with increased costs for the acquisition of modern agricultural machinery or the use of advanced services by external suppliers. “It should therefore be primarily the domain of larger farms in the first phase,” said Lukas. “However, the search for various alternatives on the market and more consistent use of newly acquired technologies are already observed in smaller companies and family farms.”
Younger users are closer to introducing new technologies. “But it’s not just about age, it’s about the enthusiasm of agronomists and the willingness to innovate,” he added.
According to him, the Czech Republic has ideal conditions for introducing new products. Compared to other EU member states, there are more large farms with sufficient capital to acquire otherwise expensive technologies, which also have a higher area of land. This, combined with the fragmentation of soil and climatic conditions and terrain, brings higher spatial variability of agricultural land, which is, in addition to the intensity of farming, another key factor determining the success of the introduction of precision agriculture.
Experts estimate that the methods of precision agriculture in Czech conditions are used on more than 15 percent of arable land. The availability of services and technologies for precision agriculture are currently at a solid level in the country. “There are a number of innovative companies dedicated to developing new technical equipment or software products and services. In addition to the growing demand for innovation from agricultural users, access to freely available spatial data, such as floor blocks or freely available satellite images of the European Space Agency, also helps,” Lukas added.
In the Czech Republic, the first verification of precision farming practices has been carried out since the late 1990s, especially in the area of mapping crop yields at harvest, sensor systems for diagnosing the condition of vegetation and guiding mechanization kits on land. Greater interest was evident after 2000 in some progressive farms, in order to streamline crop or animal production. The second wave of interest in industry news has been evident since 2015.
In addition to the technology for variable fertilization, machines for variable sowing and application of plant protection products are also newly launched on the market, which brings new possibilities for responding to the spatial variability of land. Targeted application using precision farming technologies enables the effective use of plant protection products or fertilizers, taking into account the need for on-site application and environmental constraints.