19 Sep What is ‘Precision Agriculture’?
Farming, like a lot of businesses, requires trial and error. Unique to farming is the fact that you may only get one chance per YEAR to get it right.
Fortunately, technology has made it easier to pinpoint precisely where problems exist and to more accurately test solutions.
According the USDA, precision agriculture is defined as:
“a management system that is information and technology based, is site specific and uses one or more of the following sources of data: soils, crops, nutrients, pests, moisture, or yield, for optimum profitability, sustainability, and protection of the environment.” (USDA)
To help break this down, precision agriculture refers to a process of collecting and organizing data on a crop or plot of land. That data is then used to make decisions on how to optimize a farmer’s efforts.
The idea is to minimize “blanket” solutions to generic agricultural problems. For example, in the past a farmer may have said ” we always apply X amount of nitrogen at this time of year, so we’re going to do that.” Instead a farmer will now collect data on the nutrient needs of the crop and apply as needed. Not investing the time or money in applying unnecessary applications.
This is an oversimplified example, but the concept is accurate.
Very important to the process is specialized equipment and software to collect, organize, and analyze the data. Also, specialized technology is needed to apply solutions that are “site specific” (only applying solutions where we have proven there is a problem). Finally, processes must be in place to analyze and revise the process for future crops.
Thanks to precision agriculture technologies such as those related to GPS, sampling, remote sensing, variable rate application, and yield monitoring farmers can more easily maximize profitability in a more sustainable way than ever before.
Plus, this is also very relevant to livestock as well as crops. There are companies developing ways to monitor livestock remotely and adjust rations or provide medical treatment as needed. Really exciting and fascinating stuff!
The benefits of increased profitability and sustainability make precision agriculture a “no-brainer”. Most likely, the term will become redundant and largely unnecessary. Much like the term “mechanized agriculture” which was popular before nearly every farmer used tractors.
Careers in this industry include Precision Agriculture Specialist, Agronomist, Software Developer, Customer Success Representative, Product Manager, Farmer, Equipment Salesman, and Account Manager.
No need to to pursue a degree specifically in Precision Agriculture, as all agricultural programs are teaching these methods as part of their core curriculum.
If you are interested in exciting new agricultural technologies and ideas, be sure to tune into our podcast called “The Future of Agriculture”.