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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Columbia, Missouri » Cropping Systems and Water Quality Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #321257

Title: Precision agriculture: Data to knowledge decision

item Sudduth, Kenneth - Ken

Submitted to: International Symposium on Precision Agriculture
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/14/2015
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary:

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 data to create actionable knowledge that can then be used for management decisions remains the same. This presentation reviews adoption of precision agriculture in the USA, discusses some current and future trends, and provides some suggestions related to precision agriculture in Central China. 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. For example, 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. As China and other 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. 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.”