Using GPS maps for more precise nutrient application. Photo courtesy of University of Wisconsin Extension.
Temperate, Semiarid, Tropical
North America, South Asia, Europe
Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Sediment
Precision agriculture can also be referred to as Precision Farming, Satellite Farming, or Site Specific Crop Management (SSCM). Precision agriculture is a management system that takes into account the spatial and temporal variability within the field. Using GPS and sensor technologies, producers can map variability in slope, soil type, soil moisture, crop yield, nutrient levels, organic matter, etc. in order to create management zones. Within management zones, crop management can be tailored to suit the specific needs of that zone in a way that maximizes yields and minimize inputs (water, pesticides and nutrients). Precision agriculture is enabled by technologies like crop yield monitors, GPS-equipped combines, variable rate technologies (e.g. seeders, sprayers, etc.), and real-time sensors to measure variables like moisture and chlorophyll levels, hyper-spectral aerial and satellite imagery, and other geospatial tools. 2
Precision agriculture encompasses a suite of high-tech tools, many of which are relatively inexpensive. Furthermore, a USDA study estimates that some precision agriculture tools, such as GPS guidance systems, pay for themselves within 2-3 years by way of reduced fuel costs, reduced fertilizer costs and higher yields.
Scalable to small farms?
Requires geospatial mapping tools and the capacity to modify crop inputs to specific locations within fields. More applicable to large acreage management.
1 "Documentation: Source Data, BMP Effectiveness Values." Chesapeake Assessment Scenario Tool. Web. 2013. http://casttool.org/Documentation.aspx .
2 Estimates of County-level Nitrogen and Phosphorus Data for Use in Modeling Pollutant Reduction Documentation for Scenario Builder Version 2.2." Chesapeake Bay. Dec. 2010. Web. May 2013. http://archive.chesapeakebay.net/pubs/SB_V22_Final_12_31_2010.pdf.