Global Positioning System or GPS is a vital component of today’s Precision Farming. GPS enables farmers to fill the yield gap across the farmlands by effectively using data for yield mapping and field planning. With accurate navigation using GPS, farmers can collect location-specific soil samples and monitor crop conditions over a longer period of time. Through soil data analysis and correlating it with crop conditions, farmers can now plan for fertilization and prevent pest, insect, and weed infestations in the field more efficiently. This helps to identify the deficiencies in the farming land or method and reduces the yield gap in different parts of the plot used for farming. For example, one can mount a GPS system and a yield monitoring system side by side. This will allow farmers to ascertain the variable yields of different areas of their land. It also makes the life of agricultural advisors easier in determining correlation between farming method, inputs and yield. One can simply compare the yield map to the map showing variable rate of fertilizer application to determine whether there are any visible patterns.

Another application of GPS in the crop fields is tractor guidance. As our farmlands are getting mechanized more and more, multi-faceted usage of tractors, reapers and combine harvesters is also increasing. GPS assisted navigation can bring further automation in farm mechanization. Moreover, GPS aided field mapping can be used as a "baseline" for further precision agriculture activity like precision plowing, drip irrigation, balanced fertilization etc.

Now, the government needs to provide policy support for localization of the technology in Bangladesh. Agricultural extension service along with the private sector stakeholders like agri-businesses should work collaboratively in the field for rapid adoption of the innovative solutions using GPS technology in the fields.

Dr. F H Ansarey
ACI Agribusinesses Division