While the benefits of sensing technology are emerging, Dr. Ray Asebedo notes there are obstacles to more widespread use. In-the-field computing power and connectivity have been a limited factor.  

“Ten years ago, when the GreenSeeker first came out, there was no cloud or machine-to-machine kind of communications. That just didn’t happen,” Asebedo says. “Think about how tough it once was — or even can still be — to get a cell phone call in the field." 

However, current crop sensing tools including Topcon CropSpec, an active optical sensor technology, can connect to cloud platforms via APIs to transfer its data to be readily used by the farmer or agronomist. Easy access and use of optical sensor data will help farmers and agronomists find in-field variability and save considerable amount of time through more focused crop scouting.

An additional obstacle has been the lack of a unifying software platform, which makes analysis more time consuming, especially for farmers who may not have as much expertise in GIS and analytics. 

“The complexity of old software required high levels of training into properly process each layer of soil data, imagery, yield and many others in order to integrate them together to generate agronomic outputs such as variable-rate nitrogen prescriptions,” Asebedo says.

Today’s systems are more seamless. Improvements in connectivity have made it easier to integrate sensors and create an “Internet of Things” in the field. This allows for better communication, more computing power and automated processing that could be beneficial for no-tillers and strip-tillers and help them focus on farming rather than the deep science. 

Hear more from Dr. Ray Asebedo in our Strip-Till Farmer podcast series, sponsored by Topcon Agriculture.