Landscape managers have traditionally depended upon the use of 2D tools and applications for the development and production of food. However, three-dimensional spatial applications are highly oriented to two things — better communication and higher efficiency. Restrictions on Russian grain exports, flooding in Pakistan, climate anomalies in Australia and wetness in Canada will all drive food production inputs up, as well as prices. Much more efficiency will be the outcome.
Agronomists think in 3D. Insects fly around fields, water infiltrates downward and sideways in soil, temperatures are variable across topography — regions and food production are transported and harvested over contours and across networks. The processes that occur in agricultural production are inherently 3D, and understanding them well is the primary factor in attaining top productivity.
Restrictions on Russian grain exports, flooding in Pakistan, climate anomalies in Australia and wetness in Canada are only a few of the current problems that confronting the amount of food production over the short-to-medium term. Already speculators are working at their calculations and determining higher prices, restrictions and decreased levels of grain and other agricultural products ahead.
Now is not the time to bury our heads, but to take action toward not only stabilizing production and increasing it, but to leverage new tools and technologies toward higher production and approaches for farming and food efficiency.
There has been no other time in history where so many earth observation satellites have been in orbit, providing high-resolution images with greater clarity and useful information that can support efficient agricultural production. With GNSS capability already present, we are likely to see a more fully operational GLONASS constellation appearing soon. Many companies are moving away from individually focused approaches to single products, and are developing integrated strategies that incorporate geomatics, GIS and perhaps GNSS or earth observation in their collective work flows.
If the past few months have been any indication, agricultural inputs such as fertilizers are likely to increase in price as demand grows and more competition for limited resources arises.
This will place unique stress on producers, since they will be faced with keeping costs under manageable levels, yet, somehow increasing production to take advantage of much higher prices for agricultural commodities. This is undoubtedly going to require some skill and thoughtful approaches. Farming is business.
To meet the challenge food producers will benefit through thinking in 3D, moreover, they will solve part of this puzzle of balancing the equation through employing 3D technologies that help them to understand the land, processes and factors that connect to and result in improved production.
Farming in 3D will mean knowing the soil in 3D, the crop in 3D and being able to model production through crop rotation, climate and operations in 3D. The ‘Digital 3D Farm’ is no longer a whim. Consider the value of crops that at this point, appear set to increase anywhere from 10 to 80% in price.
Again, the task will be to balance rising input costs against revenues — and improved digital technologies can help to tilt that balance.