History of Farming: And So Begins the Space Age

History of Farming: And So Begins the Space Age

And So Begins the Space Age.

10:29 p.m, 4 October 1957, the first satellite was launched. Ninety-five minutes later, it had completed its first orbit around the Earth, and with it, a new era began. Though Sergei Korolev and his team did not set out to solve the agricultural challenges of the future, it is one of the fantastic ways in which satellites are used today. 

From Sputnik to Landsat 8

Going to space to take a closer look at Earth seems counter-intuitive. Yet, since the dawn of agriculture, humans have turned to the sky. Predominantly in the hope for favourable conditions that would allow their crops to grow. Today, we too turn towards the sky, but for concrete answers when conditions are not what we need them to be. So how did we get here?

Let’s take a step back to the 1960s. Though globally remembered as one of the most tumultuous decades, it is here that the idea of using satellites to observe the conditions of natural resources on Earth was born. At first, this idea was greatly opposed. The concerns were many ranging from national security to being too expensive. After all, there were already aircraft carriers that were able to collect data through remote sensing. However, using aeroplanes to collect data on a global scale is more than limiting. By 1970 the debate was finally settled, and two years later, the first Landsat satellite (Landsat 1) was launched. We were now able to collect remote sensing data from space! 

Since then, many more Landsat satellites have been launched, with Landsat 8 being the most recent, in 2013. With each launch, the satellites (Landsat and others) capabilities have become more sophisticated and improved the data we receive. Examples of such are the development of various so-called Vegetation Indices (VI) that provide farmers with a broad range of data from plant health to soil fertility and irrigation advice.

Simultaneously, other technologies have been developed with similar goals in mind. Many of these are complementary and allow farmers to automate the application of the remote sensing data they receive about their cultivations. GPS enabled tractors and spreaders are great examples. These are especially useful in precision farming, where they allow farmers to optimise their outputs in line with the needs of their fields, based on the remotely sensed data. Even the use of drones and various sensors is worth mentioning here. Though their use is utterly limited (in comparison to the rich & readily available satellite data), it speaks to the innovative nature of the agricultural industry and the hardworking farmers that are true pioneers in their own right

The future we are heading towards and the future we aim for.

The future we envision is sustainable, sufficient and stable. To achieve this, we have to solve a few challenges. How far away are we?

Food production & rapid environmental changes are critical challenges that we need to solve in the coming 30 years and largely go hand in hand. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) shares that experts identified an increased need for digitalisation of the agricultural sector, and that precision farming is a solution. The European Commission agrees that precision farming can solve the many challenges around food production. In connection to this digitalisation, they share that reports show that in Europe between 70-80% of all new machinery sold contain equipment that supports precision agricultural practices. Though numbers in other areas of the world may be lower, they shine a hopeful light on the adaptation of sustainable and profitable technology. 

So how far away are we?

If the past 10 000 years of farming has taught us anything, farming is an innovative sector and constantly solves problems as they evolve. The agricultural sector is already working hard to tackle the current food production problems. But we need to keep our eye on the ball (or satellite). If we continue to optimise our resources by applying the best practices that precision agriculture has to offer, we have a green future ahead of us. 

 

What farming future would you like to see? How far away do you think we are?

We would love to hear your thoughts! Please, email us at hello@vultus.se

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Історія фермерства: шампанське, джаз та ферма

Історія фермерства: шампанське, джаз та ферма

Versatility

Innovation for the sake of innovation is not enough, whatever process or tools are used, they should be versatile. This is especially evident in farming. When optimisation and versatility meet, problems are not only solved but improve the work of millions of farmers across the world. Our first example of such an innovation takes us back to the 1830s. 

The Combine

Whether you call it the Combine Harvester-Thresher, Combine Harvester or simply Combine, its automation of several tedious processes makes it one of the best innovations in farming. But what exactly made it so special?

In the 1830s the Reaper was invented and helped automate harvesting, even for small grains which up until this time still had to be cut manually using a sickle. Yet onces the grain had been cut, farmers still needed to manually rake and bind the crop manually. This process was somewhat improved by 1857 with reapers that could pass the reaped crop to the back of the machine where the farmer sat and manually tied it into bundles. By 1881 a further step to automation was taken with the successful development of reapers that also could automatically tie the crop into bundles. 

Similarly and equally important as the reaping of the crop, is the threshing. Separating the kernels from the straws too was a manual process, and took a long time even when animals were used as help. Kernels were manually knocked from the straws, raked and sieved. After many improvements this entire process too was automated. Taking these two processes and combining them into one machine, gives us the modern Combine Harvester-Thresher and can still today be found virtually on all farms. 

The Farmall 

Welcome to the 1920 United States. Up until this time many important innovations have been made, such as the threshing machine. Yet in this new post war area, a new feat of engineering optimization takes the throne. 

The use of animals in agricultural production had been replaced by the first tractors some time back. This made work simpler and also allowed farmers to save a greater portion of their yield to be sold, which otherwise would have fed the horses who pulled the machinery. However, these tractors were bulky and heavy. As a result much of the work related to planting and cultivating row-crops was still done using horses. Tractor manufacturers had made attempts to produce tractors tailored for such work specifically. These were largely rejected by farmers. Paying big money for a tractor that serves a very limited use throughout the year was not an option for most farmers. Tractors need to be versatile. 

The International Harvester company set out to solve this problem, and introduced the so-called Farmall in 1924. As given by its name, this new tractor could be used for a large variety of tasks from planting row crops, plowing to pulling heavy machines such as harvesters. Being a true all-purpose tractor, it managed to replace horses all together while being sold at an affordable price. Soon other manufacturers began producing tractors with the same capability which became the new standards on farms. 

Versatility remains an important factor even on today’s farms and rightfully so. Farmers need accurate, reliable and fast services that help make their daily work easier at an affordable price. Thanks to modern technology, this has become possible. Instead of needing to invest in expensive equipment or lengthy and infrequent lab results, satellite data can combine everything farmers need to know in one app. The modern Combine doesn’t dwell in the fields, but scans them from above and delivers all data farmers need in real time, directly to one platform. 

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Vultus виходить на український ринок точного землеробства

Vultus виходить на український ринок точного землеробства

Vultus enters the Ukrainian precision farming market.

The founder and CEO of Vultus, Robert Schmitt, spoke about this in a comment for Latifundist.com (https://latifundist.com/novosti/53946-na-ukrainskij-rynok-tochnogo-zemledeliya-vyhodit-shvedskaya-kompaniya-vultus).

He noted that Vultus sees in Ukraine a significant potential for increasing production efficiency through precision farming tools.

“Ukraine is a large market, and we hope to become a leading player in precision farming services. We can really help Ukrainian farmers increase their yields and reduce costs through differentiated fertilization. Also, Vultus tools can significantly reduce the likelihood of crop loss due to undetected plant diseases or pests, “said Robert Schmitt.

Also, the company sees many opportunities to improve the performance of both the agricultural industry as a whole and an individual farmer.

“Our goal is to take a leading position in the agro-technological sector of the Ukrainian market. We are big agricultural enthusiasts, and we strongly believe in innovation, and therefore are interested in the widest possible dissemination of knowledge about precision farming and the use of satellite data analysis to build an agronomic strategy for the season,” commented Robert Schmitt.

We look forward to our work together and see beneficial prospects of optimization of everyday work for Ukranian farmers.

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