Submitted to: Agricultural Systems
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/14/2004
Publication Date: 7/1/2004
Citation: McKinion, J.M., Turner, S.B., Willers, J.L., Read, J.J., Jenkins, J.N., McDade, J. 2004. Wireless technology and satellite internet access for high-speed whole farm connectivity in precision agriculture. Agricultural Systems. 81:201-212. Interpretive Summary: A systems analysis of the multispectral image-based precision agriculture technology was undertaken to identify bottlenecks which limit the delivery and use of this technology. One area in particular was identified: the movement of data and information necessary to implement variable rate applications. Solutions to reduce or eliminate this problem were explored. A new technology called wireless local area networking (or WLAN) was explored. A test farm was selected, a system was designed and implemented, and the resulting implementation was successfully tested. The system wirelessly connected cotton pickers, spray equipment, variable rate fertilized application equipment, and hand-held personal digital assistant computers in the field, allowing for rapid bi-directional movement of data and information.
Technical Abstract: In taking a systems engineering approach to examine the entire process of remote sensing, image analysis, variable rate prescription generation, on-farm data capture, data and image archival, and information transfer to and from the farm, several bottlenecks are immediately observable. When using satellite collected images, the time from image collection to delivery of the raw image data is too long for practical use in realtime precision agriculture applications. Processing of remotely sensed images so that they can be used in geographic information systems (GIS) such as ARCView and image analysis software such as Imagine or ENVI is a time consuming process. The use of fixed wing aircraft for image data collection currently promises to shorten the delivery time to acceptable margins. As technology improves and the need for commercial providers of image capture and image analysis grows, it is likely that the market place will provide some answers to this bottleneck. A second area of concern is data communication capability between rural farms and the sites where image analysis and prescriptions generation occurs. While some farms will have their own capability to perform image analysis and variable rate prescription generation, most growers will choose to have this done by consulting organizations. Even so, the former group will still be delayed in delivering prescriptions to application machinery by having to hand-carry media. Thus, there are two communication problems to address: (1) remote, high-speed communications between the farm and service providers, and (2) local area networking on the farm.