Now, the agricultural sector is on an economic rebound, attracting lots of entrepreneurs and government interest which is vital in terms of fundraising for mega projects. It gives grounds for assuming that the amount of the companies involved in agriculture would be reduced within the next few years, while the volume of assets of the remaining participants would be growing up.
In terms of competitiveness, it is justified tendency: according to statistics data and private agriculture holdings reports, only farmers with the large land bank are able to reach crop yield level which at least approximates the European or global peers level, largely due to more available financing.
Agricultural holdings enter a new stage of development, they have to change the degree of innovation in their field, in particular, this will bring improved crop cultivation, modern agricultural machinery and precision farming technologies – operational satellite monitoring of the farmland in order to spot significant deterioration of plants vegetation and consequent complex of measures to eliminate them (vegetation control).
Spectral characteristics of fields, results of texture analysis and changes in dynamics of colours brightness are being used to build indices and functions for harvest assessment and control. Processing of the satellite images in the red and infrared spectral range gives an opportunity not only to observe the fields in a real-time mode but also to generate database on the soil temperature and changes in its condition, rainfall, vegetation indexes for different crops, with a time horizon of 10 and more years.
1. Fertilizing. Rational fertilizing is extremely important for countries, whose chemical industry depends on imported raw materials and high gas prices. In particular, this type of expenditures takes on average 17% in total crop cultivation cost. It is worth noticing that without using any additional options the satellite monitoring system enables to adequately measure only the level of required nitrogen content, nevertheless, the N-group fertilizers (mostly ammonium nitrate and urea) are the main types of minerals that are used by farmers.
Due to the satellite crop monitoring usage savings on fertilizers constitute more than 10% of annual expenditures on them. Thus for wheat, the amount of savings in fertilizer can be from ₦5,000 to ₦20,000 per ha.
2.Wage costs. According to the results of our studies, every 1,500 hectares of farmland additionally require from 3 to 5 agronomists being employed, whose salary starts from ₦50,000 per month. Satellite crop monitoring reduces human capital needs by 1-2 employees. Savings on vegetation control from staff optimization c
3.Accuracy costs. Because of the outdated methods of determining fields boundaries and absence of the operational data on their shape and area changes, resulting from erosion, anthropogenic, climatic and other factors, each year actual processing cost is overstated by at least 1-3% per hectare of crops. Satellite crop monitoring effectively utilizes mentioned inefficiency.
High-quality satellite images with regular updates make it possible to avoid such losses.
4.Expenditures on fuel. It is recommended to do not less than 7 detours around the field per year in order to control crop development, including vegetation control. This requires approximately 0.4 l of diesel fuel (about $0.5) per hectare, while infrequent visits due to satellite monitoring gives an opportunity to save up to 40% of fuel per hectare.
5.Expenditures on the measurement of nitrogen level. The cost of a laboratory analysis of a soil, which is recommended to undergo at least once every three years, is around $0.9-$1.2 per ha. Satellite crop monitoring gives information about the level of nitrogen in the soil, analyzing vegetation indices and its deviation for a particular field, saving annually $0.4 per hectare.
FarmKonnect is bringing satellite crop monitoring to Nigeran farmers through FarmKonnect Precision Farming Solutions In order to become a client of a satellite crop monitoring service, an agricultural company should sign a contract, pay fees, send shape-files with GPS-coordinates and Excel-file with cultivation history of the field.
Thereafter company’s manager (from the director of the group to agronomist of a single cluster) can monitor, in real-time mode, current soil temperature dynamics, weather conditions, vegetation index, precipitations, and field development deviations, compare them with historical values, using any stationary or tablet computer. Moreover, the obtained data can be passed on to other staff members or investors, be printed or uploaded into board computers of the agricultural machinery.
Long-term cooperation with farmers suggests that the use of satellite crop monitoring technology (including vegetation control) is spreading gradually but steadily among agricultural companies. In our opinion, this process would naturally correlate with increasing prestige, wages and labor efficiency of modern agronomists. Another reason is rising competition in world food markets and increasing the costs of production components that are forcing agricultural companies to work more efficiently. So, those who will fail in efficiency improvements will be bought by those who succeed in it.