Paul Mask, an Alabama Cooperative Extension System assistant director for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources and an Auburn University professor of agronomy and soils, says the promise of precision farming is using technology to gain a clear and comprehensive picture of one’s farming operations to secure the highest measure of farm efficiency and profitability by reducing input usage, insulating against risk and enhancing sustainable farming practices.
“That’s always been the challenge,” Mask says. “To me, it’s never been about adopting individual pieces of technology — rather, it’s about how the adoption of this technology leads to a change in mindset.”
John Fulton, an Alabama Extension precision farming specialist and Auburn University associate professor of biosystems engineering who filled Mask’s shoes a decade ago after he assumed his current administrative position, sees the next challenge as helping producers become firmly anchored to this guiding principle.
“In the last decade we’ve made strides showing farmers how to use precision farming technologies to avoid over-application and increase efficiency,” Fulton says.
The next big challenge is helping producers acquire a comprehensive understanding of this technology and its wider uses.