The U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama has announced it’s first major precision agriculture workshop for 2002.

The two-day "hands-on" workshop on Jan.22-23, 2002, will introduce farmers and agri-business professionals to tools such as the Global Positioning System (GPS), Yield Mapping, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and Remote Sensing. These are technologies pioneered and utilized by the U.S. Space Program that farmers can now implement every day on their farms.

Tommie Blackwell is the prime force behind the U.S. Space & Rocket Center’s drive to help farmers benefit from space age technology. "It’s tremendously exciting for us to see the mainstream, practical uses for the concepts and ideas that have been developed here over the past 40 years." She said. "Many people don’t immediately think of farmers when they think of modern space technology, but in reality, farmers are very receptive to new ideas and ways of doing things."

Blackwell believes that the pairing of hi-tech and agri-business is a natural match. "Farmers deal with a very complex environment. Our spatial analysis tools and techniques can help them simplify their operations while at the same time provide increased environmental stewardship and economic returns."

The Precision Agriculture Workshop series is a collaboration between The U.S. Space & Rocket Center, the USDA, and Auburn University. The USDA grant providing the funding was championed by Congressman Bob Aderholt and supported by the entire Alabama Congressional delegation.

Professor Paul Mask, Extension specialist at Auburn University, has been evaluating precision agriculture in the state of Alabama for the past six years and is one of the workshop instructors. "These technologies have the potential to rapidly expand the capabilities of our farmers. U.S. farmers need to stay ahead of the technology curve to continue to be competitive in the global market. By drawing on the expertise of our space industry partners we think we can meet that challenge."

For additional information, contact Paul Mask at 334-844-5490.