Submitted to: Asian Conference on Precision Agriculture
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/5/2007
Publication Date: 8/2/2007
Citation: Sudduth, K.A. 2007. Current status and future directions of precision agriculture in the usa. In: Proceedings 2nd Asian Conference on Precision Agriculture. August 2-4, 2007, Pyeongtaek, Korea. 2007 CDROM.
Technical Abstract: From the development of the first viable variable-rate fertilizer systems in the upper Midwest USA, precision agriculture is now about two decades old. In that time, new technologies have come into play, but the overall goal of using spatial information to target inputs more effectively remains the same. This paper reviews adoption of precision agriculture in the USA, discusses some current and future trends, and provides some suggestions related to precision agriculture in Asia. Adoption of precision agriculture has been variable in different parts of the USA and in different cropping systems, with the highest adoption in grain production areas such as the upper Midwest. Adoption is generally increasing, with some estimates saying that some form of precision agriculture technology will be used on 50% of USA cropped acres within a few years. Currently, precision agriculture research and development efforts seem to be more focused on outcomes that can be obtained, rather than being driven by precision agriculture itself as an object of study. One current trend is precision conservation, where site-specific data and methodology are used to change farming practices to, for example, reduce soil erosion in field areas where erosion has been a major problem. Other current trends include using the crop as a sensor (e.g., optical crop sensing for nitrogen fertilizer application), implementation of wireless sensor networks, and an increased emphasis on precision agriculture in high-value crops such as fruits and vegetables. As Asian countries consider how to best apply precision agriculture, it is important to note that the level of technology used in the USA, including intensive application of sensor technology, information systems, and large-scale equipment, may not be the optimum approach in many of their countries. In Asian countries where farm sizes are small, some of the operations or measurements that must be automated for larger producers could be carried out manually by smaller producers who may lack the resources to invest in automated systems. The important issue is that measurements and operations be carried out in a quantifiable, accurate and repeatable manner, regardless of the scale at which they are done. Precision agriculture does not require a specific scale of technology; rather it requires a specific approach to crop production – using detailed information about the production process to “do the right thing, in the right place, and at the right time.”