Sustainable-agriculture practices involve doing more with less, reducing harmful outputs and acting responsibly. For farmers, that means minimizing the use of water, fuel, fertilizer, seed and herbicides. It means protecting against soil erosion through sound conservation practices, improving the storage and handling of manure, carefully managing irrigation and establishing shelterbelts or windbreaks with rows of trees.
The effort is worth it. Sustainable-farming practices ensure productive crops, a secure food supply and healthier ecosystems.
Precision-farming tools have great potential to help farmers practise sustainable agriculture. The right amount of fertilizer can be applied to just the right places. Tractors and harvesters can be deployed on precise paths, reducing fuel consumption.
As well, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the Canadian Space Agency are teaming up on a number of initiatives that will apply space-borne applications to sustainable agriculture. For example, based on RADARSAT-2, they are developing new methods to determine soil water-erosion risks to agricultural land at spring melt, a significant issue in eastern Canada.
And precision-farming tools are generating benchmark data to monitor Canada’s progress in improving environmental-stewardship practices, implementing conservation-tillage practices and identifying land vulnerable to soil erosion.
This piece, supported by maps, satellite images and photos, details the many ways in which precision-farming techniques help sustainable farming.