Thursday, May 12, 2011

Precision Ag: Making Technology Pay

Precision Ag Tools Bring Benefits Gain Efficiency and Reduce Risk

Cedar Falls–As farmers head back to the field this spring more use global positioning, computers and other electronics to help make the most of seed, fertilizer and other inputs critical to a successful crop.

And as the wet spring drags on, those growers – ones with the right equipment – may be getting set to pull a few “all-nighters.”

"Precision ag technology helps growers get more acres planted within their window of opportunity,” explains George Huber of Trimble Navigation. “Precision ag allows them to plant 24-hours a day if they choose.” That’s just one of many factors fueling the accelerated adoption of the high-tech tools of precision agriculture, according to those close to these growers.

Higher crop prices are going to be central to the accelerated adoption of precision,” says K. Elliott Nowels, director of the PrecisonAg Institute. “But we’re hearing from top growers that there are other reasons driving adoption as well, including the desire to prove their environmental stewardship.

“Many growers feel that regulatory scrutiny of crop production is not going to lessen,” he explains, “and the ability to document by computer what they do on their farms is going to be important to them.”

Huber says adopting precision tools can lower production costs as well. “The current economic times demand lowering the risks of growing a crop and this is an excellent time to invest in the tools of precision agriculture,” he says, adding that larger operations will benefit from the increased efficiency of using computer technology to spread effective management over more acres.

Nowels sees the age of farmers and generational transfer as another factor influencing the adoption of new technology in agriculture.

'As the younger, more tech-savvy growers begin to lead those family operations they are going to be more likely to put new technology to use on their farms,” he says. “Another key issue is that the equipment works well now. The technology has been refined to a point where we can count on it to do what’s promised.”

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