What is in this article?:
- Save money with precision agriculture
- Can make better decisions
Team members estimate precision farming practices are saving Alabama producers an estimated $10 million annually — and precisely in the ways they expected it would: by improved accuracy, namely steering them clear of the over-applicaton of inputs such as seed, pesticides and nutrients.
Can make better decisions
Likewise, this enhanced picture has enabled producers to make better decisions.
"We're maximizing yields in a variable sense across the field, but at times, you've got to take some areas out or transition it to a different type of production — pastureland or forestland," Fulton says. "Again, the knowledge you gain from these practices help you make the proper decision to maintain or increase your profitability."
Through his own experience helping producers adopt these practices, he's noticed something perhaps even more significant. The added efficiency secured through this technology is providing something else valuable — time, which producers can use to gain a clearer picture of their place within the wider global farming context.
"We don't think about this much, but this gives farmers more time to study and to interact with other producers and agribusinesses about what's going on globally," Fulton says. "These practices help free up their time so they can maker smarter decisions — to set goals for next year or the next five years."
In addition to the $10 million in savings, team members have also seen between a $2 and $8 increase an acre in overall return among producers using precision farming practices.
Fulton and other team members also stress how the reduced overlap and increased application accuracy of inputs are reflected in the 10 percent reduction in applied nutrients and pesticides, which, in turn, contributes to improved environmental stewardship.
Also, the reduced nutrient and pesticide use associated with variable-rate technology and automatic section control has also reduced soil loading, and, consequently, the runoff into surface water that typically follows.
More accurate placement of crop inputs has also resulted in fewer passes across the fields, resulting in decreased fuel usage and a reduced energy footprint for farmers.
The repeatable field travel pathways and reduced field traffic that has followed the adoption of this technology have also contributed to reduced soil compaction and erosion, thereby enhancing soil quality.
Team members believe the best is yet to come. For example, research is under way to determine how geospatial technologies associated with precision technology can be used not only to optimize biomass transportation but also to schedule shipping directly to bioenergy facilities. Such an approach not only would help reduce transportation costs but also increase the value of biomass products.