I am just wondering what is the real impact of Precision agriculture. I came across Airbus Intelligence and their Earth Observation services (Agriculture, forestry, environment) - It seems nice and attractive - however What is the real impact of using it?

PS: You can link me even French articles or topics (I am curious about French agriculture)


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    $\begingroup$ Well, actually I've studied Life sciences, so I am watching the tag and hope that I will answer some questions related to agriculture. It makes a sense that agriculture topic should be there with all practices. For example, Agriculture, forestry and other types of land use account for 23% of human greenhouse gas emissions according to IPCC so yeah it's very important Earth science... $\endgroup$ May 5 '20 at 15:17
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    $\begingroup$ This site is getting more and more like stack overflow, where people regularly voted to close questions in which those particular people had no expertise. It was rather disgusting and was the key reason I, along with many others, stopped participating at that original corner of the SE network. $\endgroup$ May 5 '20 at 23:58
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    $\begingroup$ @Deditos My bad, I did have a filter on. $\endgroup$ May 6 '20 at 7:41
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    $\begingroup$ If i could i would vote to re-open. I think we cannot draw a hard line and exclude things that lie on the "wrong" side and i don't see why the topic agricultural impact in general should be excluded. Not when we're seriously discussing to name a stratigraphic epoch "anthropocene". Broadening the view is allways good ! $\endgroup$
    – user20217
    May 6 '20 at 9:06
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    $\begingroup$ I'll vote to reopen. I started a meta discussion on agriculture on the earth science meta site. $\endgroup$ May 6 '20 at 19:52

This is a placeholder answer in anticipation of (1) the question being closed before I can write a valid answer, and (2) I will replace this placeholder with a valid answer.

I have now partially filled in the placeholder, but what I wrote obviously still needs references.

The hope is that precision agriculture will be the basis for the next Green Revolution. The first Green Revolution started in the late 1950s and picked up steam during the 1960s. These techniques, now 50 to 60 years old, drastically changed farming in many developing countries, and even turned some of those countries from net food importers to net food exporters. The gains from those now dated techniques have plateaued in many places as of late; in some places productivity has even begun declining.

The goals of precision agriculture are to integrate many aspects of the earth and agricultural sciences with late 20th / early 21st century technology (modern direct sensing, remote sensing, internet of things, big data, ...) so as to identify on a very precise scale exactly which land areas are in need of enhanced irrigation, fertilization, insecticides, herbicides, etc., -- and which areas are just fine as-is. The hopes are that this will reduce the overall need for irrigation, etc., thereby reducing stress on the land, and that this will be largely automated, thereby reducing the workload on farm workers.

These are the aims and hopes. The concepts do appear to be working in highly developed areas. But whether they can work well in the developing world is a bit suspect, let alone whether they can work at all in undeveloped areas of the world.

The bigger problem is that many estimates indicate the Earth's human population will increase by almost thirty per cent in just thirty years (from a bit over 7.5 billion to almost 10 billion) -- and that increase will be happening while the first Green Revolution is plateauing / declining. Something has to be done lest many parts of the world fall into famine. Precision agriculture might be one way address this bigger problem. Or it might not.


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