USDA Could Use Some Precision Adoption

Cindy Zimmerman

The latest report from USDA’s Economic Research Service on “Recent Adoption of Precision Agriculture” is about five years behind the times. The report heralds that agriculture is “On the Doorstep of the Information Age” – using mostly information from 2005-06. According to the report, “recent data from the Agricultural Resource Management Survey (ARMS) show that use of yield monitors, often …

GPS, USDA, Variable rate, yields

Tracking Land Use with UAVs

Cindy Zimmerman

The military started using them to safely check on enemy activity without putting troops in harms way, but Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are now starting to be used for many civilian applications, especially in agriculture. USDA scientists are studying how UAVs may be used to keep an eye on changing land-use patterns across vast tracts of western rangeland. Ranchers, government …

Aerial Imagery, USDA

New Method Transforms Digital Cameras for Aerial Photography

Cindy Zimmerman

Scientists with USDA’s Agricultural Research Service have patented a way to transform commercial digital cameras to produce color infrared aerial photos that can measure the extent of vegetative cover. USDA has jointly patented the technology that can take an ordinary 12-megapixel camera sold without an internal filter that blocks near-infrared (NIR) light and then add a custom-made lens filter to …

Aerial Imagery, USDA

USDA and Esri Implement Geospatial Portal

Melissa Sandfort

The USDA and Esri have partnered in the implementation of a fully cloud-based geospatial portal. USDA’s prototype portal, Enterprise Spatial Mapping Service (ESMS), is built with Portal for ArcGIS, managed by Esri, and hosted on the Amazon cloud within USDA’s secure environment. The teams designed the prototype’s geospatial interfaces with a focus on search and discovery, managed service hosting, and …


Precision Technology Could Provide Data for USDA

Cindy Zimmerman

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Acreage Crop Reporting Streamlining Initiative Project (ACRSIP) may well be the “most important thing that USDA has ever done,” according to Acting Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Michael Scuse. Scuse talked about the initiative as the keynote speaker at the opening of InfoAg 2011 in Springfield, Illinois on Tuesday. The concept is …

Ag Leader, Audio, InfoAg, USDA

Technology Helps Beat the Weather

Cindy Zimmerman

The new planted acreage report from USDA shows just how fast farmers can plant with the latest technology. According to USDA, corn planted area for this year is now estimated at 92.3 million acres, up 5 percent from last year, and the second highest planted acreage in the United States since 1944, behind only the 93.5 million acres planted in …

Planting, USDA

Precision Farming for Manure?

Melissa Sandfort

The same precision farming techniques that work with crops can work with manure management on cattle feedlots, according to USDA scientists. Agricultural engineers and USDA’s Agricultural Research Service in Clay Center, Neb., map the distribution of manure on the surface of feedlots and the flow of liquid manure in rain runoff. This research could lead to both precision harvesting of …

Research, USDA

Computer Model Calculates Livestock Numbers

Cindy Zimmerman

Ranchers in the central Great Plains may be using some of their winter downtime in the future to rehearse the upcoming production season, all from the warmth of their homes, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) soil scientists. The ranchers would use the GPFARM (Great Plains Framework for Agricultural Resource Management)-Range computer model to see which cattle or sheep …

computers, livestock, USDA

USDA Wraps Up Conservation Forums with National Meeting

John Davis

Throughout March, the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, with some help from the American Farmland Trust and Farm Foundation, has been holding a series of regional meetings across the country to examine conservation programs and policies. Now, the ideas talked about at those meetings will be brought together at the National Agricultural Landscapes Forum April 7-8 at the Marriott Metro …

Conservation, USDA

Benefits to No-Till

Melissa Sandfort

As Ann Perry reports: Wheat farmers in eastern Oregon and Washington who use no-till production systems can substantially stem soil erosion and enhance efforts to protect water quality, according to research by USDA scientists. Agricultural Research Service (ARS) hydrologist John Williams led a study that compared runoff, soil erosion and crop yields in a conventional, intensively tilled winter wheat-fallow system …

Research, Tillage, USDA