Location: Soil and Water Management ResearchTitle: Focus on precision conservation
Submitted to: CSA News
Publication Type: Trade Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/31/2018
Publication Date: 9/6/2018
Citation: Evett, S.R. 2018. Focus on precision conservation. CSA News. https://doi:10.2134/csa2018.63.0915.
Interpretive Summary: The American Society of Agronomy (ASA) is a scientific and technical society with members from every state in the US, and from many other countries. Many members are scientists and engineers involved in research and development of improved agronomic methods that reduce waste and cost, make more efficient use of agricultural inputs, defeat pests and diseases, improve harvesting methods, improve water quality and increase farm and range profitability. In addition to more than 8,000 scientists and engineers employed by federal, state and private industry, the society includes several thousand crop advisors and farm managers who put into practice the engineering and scientific advances and feed back to the scientific community the relative success or need for improvement of new methods, products and approaches. The Society and its membership play strong roles in promoting all five key indicators of rural prosperity listed by the Presidential Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity, but particularly the last two: Harnessing Technological Innovation, and Economic Development. Along these lines, the new ASA book, “Precision Conservation”, will be a valuable resource for the new Certified Crop Adviser specialization in Precision Agriculture, and it will hold value for those with specializations in Sustainability and 4 R Nutrient Management as well. Indeed, one Editor argues that we must go beyond 4 R principles and practices and include precise planning and siting of conservation practices if we are to achieve real reductions in nitrogen and phosphorus in streams, rivers and water bodies from lakes to seas. The 4 Rs of variable rate irrigation management (right place, right time, right amount and right quality with fertigation) should be included as well.
Technical Abstract: The President of the American Society of Agronomy writes the occasional foreword for a new book to be published by the Tri-Societies. This time it is Agronomy Monograph 59, titled “Precision Conservation: Geospatial Techniques for Agricultural and Natural Resources Conservation”. The monograph comes at a time of rapid transition towards more spatial and temporal precision in agricultural management, and it makes the case that conservation planners and practitioners should avail themselves of the same sort of GIS, GPS and decision support tools that are available for agronomic practices. Most evident at the moment in GPS tractor and implement guidance, and precision planting, fertilization and pesticide application, the use of geospatial technology is now becoming mainstream for conservation planning, assessment and implementation. The 17 chapters of this book detail existing technologies and management methods and take a look forward to those on the horizon. At the same time, silos of expertise are being broken down between conservation practices and other precision agronomic practices, including the aforementioned agronomic practices and irrigation and drainage, both of which are treated in the book. The editors, ASA members Jorge Delgado, Gretchen Sassenrath and Tom Mueller, have done a masterful job of bringing together authors to cover not only the use of GIS and GPS tools to plan, design and place conservation structures but also to explore some of the economic consequences and opportunities for payback such as water quality incentives and greenhouse gas offset markets, as well as more established incentive programs offered by federal and state governments.