March 30, 2021
Problems with Estimated Field Size
Investment in agricultural inputs can be a significant expense in the life of a farmer. Knowing the real acreage of a field is central to reliably estimating its productivity potential. When a farmer only has a general sense of their field size, they can potentially purchase more inputs than required, or not enough. Over-and-under use of crop inputs can cause significant expenses for the farmer, both regarding input cost and poor harvests. Knowing the exact dimensions of a field will help maximize the income of a farming operation by minimizing expenses and increasing certainty in output.
Challenges for African Farmers
Many regions of Africa have never been surveyed using professional methods. Customary systems of land tenure and land use are not often legally recognized, and in many areas, ownership of land formally lies with communities or the head of state. Out-of-date regulation and legal frameworks make enforcing land rights difficult for most regions. Although land reform is highly contested, examples from Brazil and Thailand have resulted in increased security in land tenure and significantly increased agricultural productivity. These challenges for African farmers mean that when cultivating a field in these regions, there often is no easy way to know a field’s size since there are no formal records to which to refer.
Why Accurate Field Size Matters
As farming systems evolve around the world, small horticultural producers growing food for urban markets purchase hybrid seeds and follow modern protocols and seek to achieve maximum yields. These protocols require specific planting densities, application of fertilizers, and treatments for pests at different points of plant maturity. Each product requires dilution, application, and careful timing of use, all of which is affected by the area being cultivated. In addition to crop input costs, many farmers lease their land, and pay for ploughing and harvesting services. These field services are often paid for by field size. If a farmer does not know the real size of the cultivated area, all their calculations and planting densities will be incorrect, as well as yield projections, which is the amount of production per area in cultivation. Therefore, having an accurate estimate of area size is central to a farmer’s ability to plan, budget and forecast production.
Our Field Mapping Solution
FieldFocus Light by 6th Grain is a free Android app which can help farmers measure their field size, anywhere in the world. First available in Kenya, we have found the tool to be useful for smartphone owning growers. Simply download the app, turn on the phone’s Location Services, and then walk around the field. The resulting field will provide an area accurate to the square meter. The application will allow the user to record activities and keep track of expenses, making it easy to calculate profit and loss at the end of each season. FieldFocus Light takes the guesswork out of your field mapping and farm management needs!