April 28, 2023

How to prepare for weather uncertainties in agriculture?

Weather uncertainties are one of the biggest challenges facing agriculture. Changes in weather patterns can lead to crop failures, lower yields, delays, and in the end - reduced profits. Against this backdrop, it is vital for farmers to prepare for weather uncertainties and adapt crop management practices to climate change.  

Of course, there are ways to mitigate the hazardous effects of ‘bad’ weather - be it too less or too much rainfall or too low or too high temperatures in a specific period of time. The first step in risk management is of course to identify the potential risks themselves. 

What are the effects of weather uncertainties on agriculture?

There is a wide range of weather uncertainties impacting agriculture. A few of them include:

  • Soil erosion: Heavy rainfall and strong winds can cause soil erosion, which can lead to reduced soil fertility and productivity.
  • Heat/water stress: Heat and water stress compromise plant health in several ways including reduced photosynthesis, damage to plant tissues, reduced growth, reduced quality, and premature flower/fruit development or drop. 
  • Pests & diseases: Changes in temperature and humidity can create favorable conditions for pest and disease outbreaks, which can destroy crops and reduce yields.
  • Impacts on farm operations: Weather uncertainties can disrupt farm operations, such as delaying planting, harvesting, and transportation of crops, leading to reduced productivity.

In total, weather uncertainties such as droughts, floods, and extreme temperatures can significantly reduce crop yields, leading to lower harvests. Although we cannot completely erase adverse impacts of weather uncertainties, we can lower the risk of severe impacts by taking several risk mitigation actions.

What can farmers do to reduce the adverse effects of weather uncertainties?

Farmers can take several measures to reduce the adverse effects of weather uncertainties on agriculture. Here are some examples:

  • Crop diversification: Farmers can reduce the risk of crop failure by diversifying their crops. This means growing multiple crops with different growth requirements, which can help to ensure that at least some crops survive in case of adverse weather conditions.
  • Soil conservation: Farmers can adopt practices that promote soil conservation, such as conservation tillage, crop rotation, and cover cropping. These practices help to improve soil health, reduce erosion, and increase soil water-holding capacity.
  • Water management: Farmers can implement water management practices, such as irrigation scheduling, rainwater harvesting, and efficient use of water resources, to ensure irrigation water supply.
  • Pest and disease management: Farmers can adopt integrated pest and disease management practices, which involve using a combination of cultural, biological, and chemical control methods, to reduce the risk of pest and disease outbreaks.
  • Weather monitoring: Farmers can use weather monitoring tools, such as weather forecasts and soil moisture sensors, to make informed decisions about planting, irrigation, and other farm operations.
  • Crop insurance: In many countries, farmers can purchase crop insurance to protect against crop losses due to adverse weather conditions.

Of course, all of those measures come at a price. But with drastically changing climate and weather patterns, risks increase. Thus, all around the world farmers have to weigh potentially arising risks against the costs of risk mitigation. In that context, farmers need access to the right tools that provide actionable and affordable insights. 

How ListenField can help you to prepare for weather uncertainties?

Today, due to an abundance of data, farmers can use technology to prepare for weather uncertainties. Our company provides practical & affordable solutions that can help agronomists, farmers, and breeders to prepare for weather uncertainties in the short and long term. Some of the things we can help with include: 

  • Weather data at field level: By predicting weather at field level, farmers and agronomists can get a glimpse into the future.  
  • Crop health monitoring: By constantly monitoring your crops via satellites, we can help to identify pests and diseases earlier. 
  • Growth stage prediction: In combination with weather prediction, growth stage prediction makes it possible to take goal-oriented action. This information can, for example, lead to better decisions on if/when to apply growth inhibitors or fertilizer.
  • Identify crop stress: Our FarmAI helps agronomists to pinpoint crop stress and take the right actions at the right time.  
  • Effective use of fertilizer: We help to make better fertilizer decisions by taking weather data, growth stage, and several other factors into account. In turn, the actions lead to reduced input costs, stable yield, and less GHG emissions. 
  • Soil analysis: We provide Near-Infrared Soil (NIRS) analysis features that can quickly and accurately determine the status of soil health. 
  • Data-driven breeding: In the long term, due to climate change, we need adapted crops for these new circumstances. Our Data-Driven Breeding (DDB) Platform can help to breed better crops faster. 

Check out our solutions on our website: 

For agronomists & agri-food companies: https://www.listenfield.com/farm-ai-dashboard 

For breeders: https://www.listenfield.com/data-driven-breeding-platform 

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