|SHEW, AARON - Arkansas State University|
|POPP, MICHAEL - University Of Arkansas|
Submitted to: Agricultural & Environmental Letters
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/30/2020
Publication Date: 4/29/2020
Citation: Kharel, T.P., Ashworth, A.J., Shew, A., Popp, M.P., Owens, P.R. 2020. Tractor guidance improves production efficiency by reducing overlaps and gaps. Agricultural & Environmental Letters. 5:e20012. https://doi.org/10.1002/ael2.20012.
Interpretive Summary: Tractor guidance (TG) systems use Global Positioning Systems (GPS) to guide the tractor path during field operations. This results in more spatially precise fertilizer and herbicide applications and improved agricultural production efficiencies by reducing the overlap and gaps. However, methodology to estimate overlaps, gaps, and improvement in production efficiencies in actual field studies are lacking. Our study objectives were to 1) develop a method to calculate overlaps and gaps, and 2) quantify overall gains by TG systems. Field research was conducted using fertilizer and sprayer applications with and without TG. ARS researchers developed an automated method for quantifying overlaps and gaps. This novel method can be employed for a large number of fields to quantify environmental and economic benefits of precision agriculture technologies. Results suggests that TG systems reduce overlaps (up to 6% of the total field area) and gaps (up to 16%) during field operations, and improves the average overall efficiency by 8%. Hence, TG systems likely lead to reduced input-use and shorter in-field operation time leading to improved economic and environmental savings.
Technical Abstract: Tractor guidance (TG) systems improve agricultural production efficiencies by reducing either overlaps and/or gaps during field operations. Planned field studies and a methodology for measuring these efficiencies are limited. This study aims to 1) develop a method to calculate overlaps and gaps, and 2) estimate spatial coverage efficiency gains from TG systems. Fertilizer and sprayer applications on six and four fields, respectively, were performed with and without TG. Overlap and gap estimation was implemented using the individual pass polygon method (IPPM). IPPM can be employed for a large number of fields to quantify environmental and economic benefits of precision agriculture technologies. Results from IPPM suggest TG systems reduced overlaps (up to 6% of field area) and gaps (up to 16%) during field operations and improved average overall efficiency by 8%. Consequently, TG systems leads to reduced input use and in-field operation time, leading to economic and environmental savings.