Submitted to: Food Reviews International
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: January 20, 1997
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: Precision farming, or site-specific farming, refers to technology that allows for the application of agricultural inputs such as fertilizer, pesticides, seed, and water in precise amounts when and where they are needed. Much is known about its individual components such as soil grid sampling techniques, global positioning systems, geographic information systems, and yield monitors, but very little work has been done to show how the major components fit together. In addition, farmers do not need all the major components to gain initial benefits from precision farming technology. This paper provides an exhaustive summary of each element of precision farming and proposed four specific levels of adoption which range from precision farming in its most basic form to complete adoption and implementation of its many elements. The paper then discusses the economic feasibility of precision farming and outlines the possible impacts of precision farming on structural change and rural development in agriculture. The paper should provide researchers, agricultural extension agents, and farmers with a complete knowledge base on precision farming concepts and should inform the reader about what remains to be done to determine the potential environmental benefits and economic feasibility of precision farming technology in the long term.
Technical Abstract: Precision farming, or site-specific farming, has emerged as a promising technology that could increase agricultural productivity with environmental stewardship. It is a knowledge-based technology that integrates many advanced information technologies. Precision farming enables farmers to apply a precise amount of fertilizers, pesticides, water, seeds or other inputs to specific areas where and when they are needed for optimal crop growth. The major components include grid sampling, Global Position System receivers, geographic information systems, remote sensing technologies, yield monitors, variable rate application technologies, and computer simulation models. This paper reviews the current state of the art of this new technology and its major components and discusses economic feasibility and potential implications for agricultural structure and rural communities.