The optimal time to invest in precision farming is now. PrecisionAg.com reports that the International Nutrition Plant Institute has come up with some reasons why farmers should embrace precision ag technology today.
- Precision agriculture technologies have not always been economical for small to medium-sized farming operations. However, as input costs rise, precision agriculture equipment is becoming less expensive and tools such as guidance systems, yield monitors, and variable-rate fertilizer applicators may now be profitable for nearly all growers.
- Some technologies, like RTK auto-steering, can improve efficiency without changing management practices. Using a GPS-guided steering system can eliminate sprayer overlaps and planter skips that can result in lower profits.
- Despite the fact that yield monitors have been around over a decade, many growers still don’t fully understand how to use them to improve farming efficiency. This lack of knowledge is being actively addressed in a series of extension programs and classroom courses developed North Carolina State University. This training involves on-farm demonstrations, hands-on classroom training using “Virtual Yield Monitor” custom software, and introduction to spreadsheet-based analysis of yield monitor data, yield-limiting factors, and potential changes in management that could increase yield.
- Variable-rate fertilizer applications have been shown to improve efficiency and increase profits in many grower fields. Several universities and USDA-ARS research units have developed strategies for using on-the-go sensor-based applicators to improve fertilizer use efficiency. Profits have come in the form of increased grain yields without increasing total nutrient inputs.
- Precision management pays now more than ever.
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