Digital Farming: When Agriculture Meets Innovation
The Philippines is a predominantly agricultural country. Our country is known for its vast farmlands with rich soil good for planting all types of fruits and vegetables. As the demand for more crops increases, there is a challenge of meeting the demand and increasing the supply. Which means farm owners would need to keep up with the changing times and implement practices that will overall boost their production without harming the quality.
Farmers employ technology to integrate financial and field-level information for total farm activity management, which is known as DIGITAL FARMING.
Data from each plot may be examined to offer information and help farmers to better understand the important factors such as water, topography, aspect, vegetation and soil types. This allows farmers to determine the best uses of scarce resources within their production environment and manage these in an environmentally and economically sustainable manner. Farmers may even use their phones to receive answers to their questions and control the supply chain.
Digital farming intends to take over all parts of farming from farm to fork by managing farms pre-harvest and post-harvest. The top benefits of Digital Farming include the following:
- Improved management and decision-making processes.
- Improved efficiency through more target applications.
- An increase in productivity and profit.
- Improved marketing.
- Real-time information.
- Advancements in record keeping.
- Management of risks and uncertainties.
Last September 10, 2022, the ETI Team visited Alfonso Farm (owned by Dizon Farms) which is located in Cavite, Philippines. The team’s goal for the visit was to see the different farm types in Alfonso, talk to the agriculture expert and verify how Digital Farming can be applied.
The day started by meeting Romnick, who is the Farm-In-Charge. At first, he gave our team a quick overview of the Alfonso Farm. Afterwards, we started to move around the farm and go through the step-by-step process of farming. Our first stop was the Nursery, which is a place where seedlings are raised for planting purposes. In the nursery, the young seedlings are tended from sowing to develop in such a way as to be able to endure the hard field conditions. Romnick also discussed with us the Nursery process including the different considerations we need to take into account such as the nursery bed to use, the nutrients the seeds to be planted, how to do pest/insect control, etc. Then, we went to the greenhouses, rain houses and the open-field. This is where we saw how plants are being groomed and how they grow. We discussed the ideal developing conditions of the different crops and how they can be shielded from the negative climate, insects, pests, etc.
To better understand how to effectively implement our plan, the team also interviewed some of the farmers about their day-to-day activities in the farm. There, they told the team about the schedules of harvests, why they are planted in a certain way, what actions they take to ensure that the crops are safely planted and what they do to minimize the chances of it to be invaded by pests. The manual labor involved in farm production became clearer to the team as well as the main problems in managing a farm.
The visit shed some light about how controlled the environment has to be in a farm. Every temperature change, placement, timing of transplant, harvest and amount of pesticide and fertilizers --- everything was meticulously calculated. Not to mention, we need to really understand how soils are treated, composted, and prepared to make room for the best crops. The variety of the crop itself as well as soil, seeds, timing, weeds and other factors all play a role in the success or failure of farming.
Knowing all these, Digital Farming certainly provides a great opportunity to improve the efficiency of farmers and help them improve the quality of their crops and other products. In the same way, it can bring the so much needed increased productivity and sustainability to the agriculture sector.