Precision Farming Adoption And Payback

Kurt LawtonAg Leader, Company Announcement, Education, Farmers, Fertilizer, GPS, Guidance, Planting, Spraying, sustainability, University

Ag Leader Technology and AutoFarm joined forces today in Ames, Iowa at the official opening of the new Ag Leader Academy to talk about their combined tools of precision agriculture with the media.

Matt Darr, Iowa State University

Matt Darr, Iowa State University

Amidst the talks by management, touting the excitement of this alliance and their complete precision farming product offering, was a presentation by Iowa State University agricultural engineer Matt Darr.

He paralleled the adoption curve of hybrid corn (which took 18 years) to grower adoption of precision farming tools. In 2010, some 18 years since its birth, surveys predict that 50% of U.S. farmers will have adopted some form of precision farming.

“Since 1992, the industry began in the data collection phase, and has evolved into the steering control and variable rate application. And now we’re entering the third phase, which is implement control,” Darr says.

“Precision farming has enhanced productivity, has put the operator back in control, has enabled precision placement, provided cost savings and environmental benefits, has reduced production variability and much more,” he adds.

Favorite quotes. Darr talked of a few favorite quotes heard during University precision ag field days. 1. “Just being able to watch my planter is payback enough to own auto steer.” 2. “Precision guidance along with statewide RTK (CORS network) will finally make strip-till easier to adopt.”

While paybacks vary on given farms and operation styles, Darr outlines his views based on current research…

– Lightbar guidance: 300 acres/year for payback

– Universal auto steer on tractor: 400-500 acres/year

– Integrated auto steering: 900 acres/year

– Auto swath sprayer: 1,800 sprayed acres/year

– Site specific (variable rate) solutions: harder to put numbers on right now

In the future, Darr added that he sees success in real time nutrient control, and a greater push to biorenewables for energy–which will be delivered by precision tools.