Food prices are climbing as resources and inputs become more expensive. At the same time the weather is constantly changing, further burdening agricultural production and straining water use for crop growth. 3D agriculture aims not only to manage input costs, but to also provide a mechanism for developing a successful strategy, managing operations and understanding what is really happening in farm fields, How do all of the technologies come together for 3D agricultural use? How do we cut through complexity to produce more food at lower cost in less time? Consumers want improved food quality and their food supply protected and safe. They understand that water management is part of the food production chain. They also understand that input costs are rising, but at the end of the day, the price in the store and the knowledge that what they buy is safe are the primary connections to agriculture for them. Fair enough.
But this means that food producers and those connected to the agricultural production chain need to provide safety, quality and continuity in a sustainable fashion at the operations level. To achieve that, 3D agriculture offers many advantages. It places entire farm field operations into a simplified, easy-to-understand framework - often working with 3D visualization, 3D data and 3D decision-making strategies. Modern producers do not guess what their farms are doing, they pinpoint and know exactly what is happening. Then they transfer that knowledge and awareness to the food chain production line. This is their value and significance.
Products like mojo3D, which include field displays operating on field boundaries and including accurate positioning help to locate input operations and field equipment positioning. Other companies such as Trimble have developed 3D Water Management tools that can be applied for managing water within problematic fields areas. In areas of heavy rainfall, these technologies greatly impact success from crop failure. John Deere recently signed an agreement to partner with Topcon company to provide 3D grade control. "The alliance with Topcon will allow our equipment owners to utilize a factory-installed grade control system that maximizes productivity, uptime and lowers daily operating costs on the worksite," said Domenic Ruccolo, senior vice president of sales and marketing, John Deere Construction & Forestry.
The U.S. National Agricultural Imagery Program aims to assist 3D farm production through the promotion of civil imagery that includes both hardware and software. Meanwhile, the European Soil Portal has developed an extensive database of knowledge and data for European soils that can be used to support 3D application development.
Education and training have become growth areas as many farm producers and the public seek to understand more, particularly where expensive technologies and safety issues are involved. The advent of Farm Simulation 2012 shows how simulation has now entered the marketplace. Instructors show students how new equipment operates and the realistic environments for these education efforts are often designed upon real 3D data.
Scientists at the Manila Observatory extended their approach to include the measurement of 3D water vapor. "What Dr. Fernandes proposed is to use a network of GPS stations to make a time-varying 3D map of water vapor across an area such as Manila. This water vapor measurements can then be fed into climate change models, such as those run by Dr. Gemma Narisma of the Regional Climate Systems of Manila Observatory, in order to make better predictions of climate variability." The linkage of this work to agriculture may not always be seen, but it impacts farm operations for those who access and use this knowledge. Other work os a similar nature involves humidity fields.
As farm producers pull 3D farm content together in a realistic fashion through the coupling of 3D data technologies to field equipment and through remote sensing source, the understanding of their operations rises. Better decisions can be made and the public can become better informated about food quality and secutiy.