Precision Myth Busting #3

Cindy ZimmermanEducation, University

Raj KhoslaThis is the third and final precision farming myth busted by Raj Khosla of Colorado State University. You could call this one the money myth – and the whole basis of

jd bankMYTH 3: Precision farming will not pay for itself

First of all, Khosla points out that “precision farming is not just the addition of new technologies, but is rather an information revolution, made possible by new technologies that result in a higher, more precise farm management system. To this end, precision farming can be applied at with any level of technology and at any field scale.”

Producers that have used precision farming for several years have paid for the initial equipment investment through increased farm profitability and productivity. How long it takes to pay for itself will depend entirely upon how much capital was initially invested and the type and scale of the farming operation.

A recent study from Colorado State University indicated that precision farming practices can result in as much as $71 more return per acre when compared to traditional farming practices. In their study, the researchers used a method of varying N fertilizer that is based on black-and-white aerial photographs combined with the farmer’s past management experience. Other than the time required to obtain a black-and-white aerial photograph (aerial photos are free-of-charge from the Farm Service Agency or the NRCS District Conservationist) and for the farmer to identify the areas on the photograph that were high and low yielding, very little time and money was required to create a prescription nutrient map. Hence, precision farming can and does pay for itself. Like any technological tool, one needs to assess which particular tool or technique would bring about the most benefit. Again, this depends on the type and scale of the operation. A “one-size-fits-all” approach does not fit in with precision farming.

Read all of Khosla’s article “Myths of Precision Farming” here.