Traditional knowledge “can enable precision farming”
SciDev.Net, 28 May 2013

LONDON, UK: Crop yields could be improved by applying traditional knowledge to mirror precision techniques such as using the satellite Global Positioning System (GPS) to analyze farm land, says Margaret Oliver, a visiting research fellow at the University of Reading’s Soil Research Centre in the UK. In a paper in Significance, she says geostatistical analyses of data from sensors both on land and from satellites are “becoming increasingly standard for all kinds of crop production and will be of crucial importance in the near future as the world faces increasing issues of food security.” Such data can be used to build a map of soil biochemistry, which can help farmers improve crop yields and resistance to disease. The cost of technology, which can also include high-tech farming machinery, has so far kept precision farming methods mostly in developed nations, although emerging economies are taking it up. But Oliver says smallholder farmers can instead apply their traditional knowledge. “By working on the same area for years, they can map ­the soil like GPS would do, knowing which corners are more or less productive, which are drier or wetter,” she tells SciDev.Net. Read the article …