According to the Government, the usable agricultural area in Spain is almost half of the entire national territory. Furthermore, the sector contributes 9.7% of GDP. This leading role of agriculture makes it necessary to include technologies that allow for better management of current and future resources.
One of them are the GIS or Geographic Information Systems, which provide properly geolocated data for an understanding of the reality that allows the best decisions to be made in agricultural production. We give you more details of their involvement with these 8 use cases that you should not miss.
What are GIS used for in the agricultural sector?
The implementation of GIS in agriculture is a process that has made it possible to generate thematic, interactive and layered maps that capture and represent the different realities of the countryside. This includes data such as crop types, areas of cultivated and fallow land, boundaries between properties, irrigation, climatological aspects, etc.
They also make it possible to know in greater detail the types of soil, the nutrients present in them, the amount of water, temperature, etc. All basic information for making very important decisions for farm management.
2.- Increased access to information for farmers
GIS makes it possible for field professionals to have all this information at their fingertips. This does not mean that farmers have to own the GIS, but that they can use specialised professionals.
With all this data, in addition to making better land management decisions, farmers will be asking questions that did not even cross their minds before, as GIS has helped them to better understand their land. Questions that will revolve around how to better manage their production.
3.- Increase and improve production
Undoubtedly, one of the major applications of GIS in agriculture and one of the most highly valued is its contribution to producing more and better, achieving maximum benefits at the lowest risk, making the most of the economic investment and effort.
A GIS can represent combinations of map layers to address different problems. In other words, at a glance you can scientifically see how variables such as average rainfall, land elevation, plot profitability and many others are related, even finding links that were previously impossible to identify.
Knowing these aspects and others, such as salinity or soil pH, the farmer will be able to know with certainty whether or not a particular crop will grow successfully.
In addition to reflecting the levels of rainfall in each area or of moisture in the soil, GIS shed light on where water drains more or less quickly, so that engineering measures can be taken to balance the situation.
This is not an unimportant issue, as too fast drainage means increased soil erosion and consequent loss of produce, and too slow drainage can hinder crop development.
In addition, GIS makes it easier to locate sources from which water can be used for irrigation.
5.- The door is open for research
With all this geospatial information, scientists and farmers can enter into working relationships focused on creating more effective and efficient agricultural techniques in all aspects. This can even help mitigate food shortages in so many parts of the world.
Moreover, given the current and future trend of global population growth, there is a great need to ensure that there will be food for all. This is a concern for governments. From historical GIS data and its scientific analysis, an accurate prediction can be made of the amount of arable land that will be needed to achieve this goal.
6.- Hunger awareness
Continuing with the need to meet the high present and future demand for food, Geographic Information Systems are doing their bit to raise awareness of the problem of world hunger, which is directly related to agricultural resources.
Some studies claim that to meet future food needs, current crop production must double by 2050. In addition, research helps to identify and act on the underlying causes of food insecurity.
Here we can highlight initiatives such as the World Hunger Map of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), which offers a global vision of food levels in different countries.
7.- Assessing damage
The countryside is one of the productive sectors that suffer most from weather conditions, as well as from natural and man-made disasters.
In this respect, GIS is a valuable tool for assessing the extent and severity of damage caused by fires, floods, high winds, tornadoes and a multitude of similar events.
In this way, the procedures related to the application for and delivery of aid, public and/or insurance company compensation, as well as attempts to defraud public administrations and insurers, are speeded up.
8.- Precision farming
According to the definition provided by The agricultural European Innovation Partnership (EIP-AGRI), precision agriculture is:
“A management approach that focuses on observing, measuring and responding to variability in crops, fields and animals. It can help increase crop yields and animal performance, reduce costs, including labour costs, and optimise process inputs. All of this can help increase profitability. At the same time, precision farming can increase occupational safety and reduce the environmental impacts of farming and agricultural practices, thus contributing to the sustainability of agricultural production.”
As you can see, the concept of precision farming is closely related to much of what we have discussed so far. It is realised through the capture, processing and presentation of data that can be collected by sensors in the field itself or on machinery (such as tractors) and duly represented geographically.
This makes the data relevant, more accessible and easier to interpret for farmers and other professionals in the sector.
Agriculture definitely needs GIS if it is to respond adequately to the demands that it is currently facing, as well as those that are yet to come. If you do not want to miss the opportunity to add your agricultural project to this reality, at Geograma we have the equipment and solutions that your farm needs.