Role of GIS in Agriculture

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GIS stands for Geographic Information System. GIS is any digital data that contains location-based information. This location information in the GIS industry is termed as ‘spatial data’. It can be an address or the coordinates of a place (latitude and longitude). It can also be a complex three-dimensional geometry.

Geographic Information System GIS technology has become a multimillion-dollar industry that employs thousands of people worldwide and is estimated to be growing at an annual rate of 25%. Many private and government organizations, whose activities are largely dependent on geographic information, are rapidly adopting GIS software and technology.

Geographic Information System integrates many types of geographic data. It analyzes the spatial location of a place and organizes layers of information into visualizations making use of 3D scenes and GIS maps. With this feature, it provides deeper insights into data such as patterns, relationships and situations – helping experts make smarter decisions.

The data can lend a helping hand in your pursuit of precision agriculture. With precision farming practices you can not only save time and money but can also preserve the health of your soil.

The GIS data can represent almost anything – as long as it has a geographic component. The hardware generally includes a desktop computer, laptop, satellites, drones and handheld GPS units. Different software packages are used, but ESRI’s ArcGIS suite is the industry standard. 

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How GIS Is Enabling The Agricultural Sector

This system in agriculture is no longer a new phenomenon. With the growth in agriculture, new technologies like these are not only cost-effective but a technology assisting in sustainable planning of the agricultural fields. Sustainable agricultural production depends on the judicious use of natural resources like water, soil, livestock, plant genetics, fisheries, climate, forest, rainfall, and topography in acceptable technology management under the prevailing infrastructure.

The real power of it lies in its ability to analyze multiple data variables or layers, especially in the agriculture sector. It can help farmers adapt to these different variables like soil type, rainfall amount, wind direction, elevation and slope aspect to assist with crop management. 

It also assists farmers to monitor the health of individual crops, estimate yields from given farmland, and maximize crop production.  Remote sensing uses satellites, manned aircraft and drones, which gathers field information.

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Application of GIS in Agriculture

1 Agricultural Mapping

Agricultural GIS using Geomatics technology has enabled the farmers to map and project current and future fluctuations in temperature, precipitation, crop output, etc.

Agricultural mapping is a growing area and is becoming crucial for monitoring and management of irrigation and soil of an area. A GIS allows more accurate mapping of geographic and geologic features of crop fields, thus enabling farmers to create more efficient and effective farming techniques. 

As a result, farmers are able to take more corrective actions in terms of better utilization of fertilizers, pest treatments and weed infestations, protecting the natural resources, etc., resulting in higher quality food production.

2 Management of agricultural production

Today tools and online web resources are helping farmers to conduct crop forecasting and efficiently manage their agriculture production by utilizing multispectral imagery collected by satellites. The ability of Geographic Information Systems to analyze agricultural environments and workflows has proved to be very beneficial to those related to the farming industry.

It can analyze the data collected from the soil. It can determine which type of crop should be planted.  You can also know how to maintain soil nutrition so that the plants are best benefitted. It has helped farmers to achieve increased production by better managing their land resources. 

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3 Efficient farming technique

It can be used to create more effective and efficient farming techniques like precision agriculture and sustainable agriculture. It can analyze soil data and decide: what are the best crops to plant? How to maintain nutrition levels for maximum yield. It is fully integrated and widely helps government agencies to manage farming programs that support farmers and protect the environment. 

4 Disaster management and mitigation

A well-developed system can be used to protect the environment. It has become an integrated and successful tool in disaster management and it’s mitigation. It has shown to help farmers with risk management and spatial analysis by displaying which regions are likely to be prone to natural disasters. When such disasters like floods, forest fires are identified, preventive measures can also be developed.

5 Determine land use/land cover changes

Land cover refers to the feature that is covering the barren surface. Land use means the earth’s surface utilized for particular activities. GIS technology helps to determine land use/land cover changes in different areas. The technology can also detect and estimate the changes in the land use/ land cover pattern within a specified period. It enables farmers and experts to find sudden changes in land use and land cover either by natural forces or by other activities like deforestation.

6 Natural resources management

With the help of this technology, the agricultural, water and forest resources can be well maintained and managed. Agricultural land includes monitoring crop rotation, managing crop yield and more. Water is one of the essential elements of the environment. It  is used to analyze the geographic distribution of water resources. They are interrelated; for example, forest cover reduces the stormwater runoff. It is also used in afforestation.

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7 Soil mapping

Soil mapping is essential as it helps in understanding soil suitability for various land use agricultural activities. It is critical for preventing environmental deterioration associated with misuse of land. Soil mapping can help in identifying soil types in an area and can also help to outline the soil boundaries. Identification and classification of soil are also done by GIS. Farmers use soil maps in developed countries to retain soil nutrients and earn maximum yield.

GIS In Agriculture – Meeting the Future Demand for Food

Today governing agencies have a concern about securing food sources. According to stats, there is a continuous rise in population, which is a matter of concern. By 2050, experts believe that crop production needs to double to meet future needs. 
 
The GIS applications are being implemented as enterprise information systems. Mobile devices can access these systems. This is leading a transformation in a variety of things. The way organizations serve their customers, manage their assets is undergoing a change. The decision making with these types of data is becoming more accurate. This effort would address the food crisis of an ever-growing population. These agricultural technologies would solve the problems arising in the food sector.

Real-time analyses use GIS and GIS performs a comparison with historical data. Landsat satellite imagery assesses the historical trends of agricultural land use over time. This is helping in predicting and planning the amount of arable land needed to cultivate food in the future.

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Top Benefits of GIS In Agriculture

GIS benefits farmers in many aspects. There is a growing interest and awareness of the economic and strategic value of GIS, as it is a more standard-based technology. 

1 Cost savings resulting from greater efficiency 

They help to automate and improve the agricultural process. GIS in agriculture has helped farmers to achieve increased yield and reduced costs by enabling better management of land resources.

2 Better decision making

With the help of the system and remote sensing, farmers can make better decisions about their farmlands. The main objective is to maximize the efficiency of decision making and planning, thereby providing an efficient means for data distribution to farmers and experts.

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3 Improved communication 

GIS-based maps and visualizations greatly assist farmers in understanding the landscape better. Most of these GIS systems help farmers in effective crop yield estimates, soil erosion identification, soil amendment analyses and remediation. These maps and images improve communication between farmers, experts, scientists, government officials and analysts. 

4 Better geographic information

GIS operates on many levels. GIS technology is used as computer cartography, that is for preparing straightforward maps for a particular region. The real power of GIS is through using statistical methods to analyze the geographic information of the area. Derivative information or prioritized information could be the end result of the analysis. 

The Future of GIS

The future implications of GIS in the agricultural aspect are incredible and immense in scope. With the spread of technology in the global culture today, it is possible that in a few years, GIS could be available to rural farmers in the developing world to help them increase their crop production and also produce enough food for the market. 

Farmers in adverse weather prone areas like drought zones or flood plains would easily be able to predict what these weather conditions could do to their crops. Using GIS, farmers would know how to irrigate based on local water resources and weather patterns. 

Are you interested in leveraging GIS in your agricultural pursuits? Gain valuable insight, know more about the technology and make smarter decisions with the power of GIS.

You can read more about modern agricultural trends in our blog section.

3 thoughts on “Role of GIS in Agriculture

  1. Pingback: Benefits of Remote Sensing in Agriculture – Al Ard Alkhadra – Home

  2. Pingback: Precision Agriculture – Technologies Used – Al Ard Alkhadra – Home

  3. Pingback: Use of GPS Tracker in Farming - Al Ardh Alkhadra

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