How to Conduct Crop Monitoring for Early Detection of Issues

Tolu Adebola

Tolu Adebola

Every year, farmers have to deal with a tough reality: they lose a lot of their crops. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) says that pests make a big dent in global crop production, causing losses between 20% to 40%. These numbers show that it’s a serious problem.


Plant diseases cost the world economy about $220 billion annually, while invasive insects worsen the situation by causing around $70 billion in damages each year.


These numbers really show that something must be done. This is where crop monitoring comes in. Crop monitoring is the systematic process of observing and assessing the condition, health, and growth of crops throughout their lifecycle.


Early detection helps identify problems and abnormalities in crops during their initial phases, well before these issues escalate into full-blown crises. This proactive approach empowers farmers to intervene promptly, mitigating potential damage and ensuring optimal crop health.


In this article, we will explore how crop monitoring can be utilized to promptly identify irregularities that might affect the crops. However, before delving into this, let’s examine the significance of early detection.

Why early issue detection is so vital

The following are reasons why you have to monitor your crops for detection of issues:

Preventing Disease Spread

Diseases can cause a lot of damage to crops, resulting in significant drops in yield and economic challenges for farmers. Detecting issues early helps farmers spot the signs of disease before they spread widely. Isolating the affected plants and putting in place suitable disease management tactics, like precise treatments or taking out infected plants, can stop diseases from quickly spreading to other areas of the field. This containment notably lessens the overall effects of the disease, safeguarding both the crop yield and its quality.

Curbing Pest Infestations

Pests, which can include insects and rodents, constantly put crops at risk. If not controlled, these pests can completely destroy entire crops and lead to significant financial hardships. Detecting issues early helps farmers see the initial signs of pest activity, like strange chewing patterns, groups of eggs, or droppings from insects.  Recognizing these signs allows farmers to put into action precise and timely pest management techniques, which lessens the requirement for using chemicals extensively and decreases the likelihood of pests developing resistance.

Addressing Nutrient Deficiencies

Shortages in nutrients can hinder plant growth, making crops weaker and causing lower yields. Detecting problems early helps farmers recognize these nutrient shortages by looking for visual hints such as leaves turning yellow, growth being stunted, or unusual changes in color. Detecting these issues at an early stage allows farmers to change how they use fertilizers to provide the right nutrients and help plants grow healthily. This not only improves crop growth but also prevents using too much fertilizer, which can harm the quality of soil and water.

Financial Implications

Detecting issues early significantly impacts the economic sustainability of farming operations. Swiftly addressing problems in their initial stages reduces the resources required for effective solutions. On the other hand, when detection is delayed, it often calls for extensive and resource-intensive approaches to rectify the situation, resulting in increased expenses and diminished profitability. Preserving crop yield and quality through timely intervention allows farmers to ensure their financial stability and long-term prosperity.

Step-by-step to Monitoring Crops for Early Detection

Step 1: Regular Farm Walks

  • What to Do: Take a walk through your farm regularly, ideally a few times a week.


  • Why: Walking through your farm lets you be right there with your plants. This closeness helps you spot changes that might not be clear from far away. Doing this often creates a habit that makes sure you catch any possible problems.


  • When to Do It: Choose times when you have a bit of free time. Maybe in the morning before it gets too hot or in the evening as the sun sets.


  • How to Do It: Walk along the rows of your crops. Pay attention to the plants as you go.


  • What to Look For: Keep your eyes peeled for anything unusual. Check leaves for spots or weird colors. Look at the soil to see if it’s too dry or too wet. Notice if there are any bugs or pests around.

Step 2: Observe Plant Signals


  • What to Do: While you’re on your regular farm walk, keep a sharp eye on your plants for any signs of trouble.



  • Why: Plants can’t speak, but they do communicate through how they look. Their appearance gives you hints when something isn’t right. Just like people might look pale when they’re sick, plants show signs when they’re not feeling well.


  • When to Do It: During your farm walk, as you’re checking out each plant.


  • How to Do It: Slow down as you walk and take time to look at each plant. Bend down to get a good view.


  • What to Look For: Search for anything that seems out of the ordinary. Check the leaves for spots, holes, or strange colors. Look at the overall shape of the plant – if something seems odd, take note of it.


  • Examples of Signs: Keep an eye out for things like wilting leaves, yellowing, or leaves that are curling. Also, look for bugs or eggs on the leaves – they might be the cause of the trouble.

Step 3: Assess Soil Moisture


  • What to Do: Put your finger into the soil gently to check how wet or dry it is.


  • Why: Soil moisture is like a plant’s drink. Just like we need the right amount of water, so do plants. If the soil is too dry, your plants might be thirsty. If it’s too wet, they could be drowning. Checking soil moisture helps you keep their water just right.


  • When to Do It: You can do this whenever you’re out on your farm walk.


  • How to Do It: Pick a spot close to a plant, push your finger into the soil up to your first knuckle, and see how it feels.


  • What to Look For: If the soil feels dry and crumbly, your plants might need water. If it feels very wet and sticky, they might have too much. The sweet spot is when it’s damp but not too wet or too dry.

Step 4: Watch the Weather

  • What to Do: Pay attention to the weather forecast for your location.


  • Why: Weather can impact your plants in a big way. Think of it as their mood – they like some types of weather and not others. Hot days might make them thirsty, while rain can bring trouble like diseases. Knowing what’s coming helps you get your plants ready.


  • When to Do It: Check the weather forecast daily or before you start your farm tasks.


  • How to Do It: Use a weather app on your phone, listen to the radio, or watch the news to get the weather update.


  • What to Look For: Notice things like temperature, rain, and wind. If it’s going to be really hot, your plants might need more water. If rain is on the way, you might want to cover your plants to keep them dry.

Step 5: Keep Track of Changes

  • What to Do: Get a notebook or use a notes app on your phone to jot down what you observe.


  • Why: Think of your notes as a diary for your plants. Writing things down helps you remember important stuff. If something seems off today but you’re not sure, you can look back and compare later.


  • When to Do It: Right after your farm walk or whenever you notice something new.


  • How to Do It: Write a short note about what you saw. It could be as simple as “yellow spots on leaves” or “dry soil.”


  • What to Include: Mention the date, the plant you’re looking at, and what you’re noticing. This helps you track changes over time.


Monitoring crops thoroughly is a crucial part of modern farming. By staying watchful and catching problems early, we can prevent small issues from becoming big ones that hurt our harvests. Detecting things like pests, diseases, and nutrient problems early helps us fix them quickly, keeping our crops healthy and our yields high.


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