Precision farming: adopt or perish?


  • I. Yule



Precision farming has captured the imagination of many in terms of what it can offer. It is based on simple ideas that appear to make perfect sense. Firstly: feed a crop only to its potential in that particular location. Secondly: spray and treat only those areas that require treatment for control of disease and weed problems. This technique offers improved profits through increased yield as well as potential savings in input costs. There are however additional costs that must be met. These include a global positioning system (GPS), additional controllers and monitoring devices on machinery, data storage devices on vehicles and additional software to manage and analyse the data produced. Much of the work completed around the world has been directed towards combinable crops, there are however increasing numbers of yield mapping systems being developed for other machines such as forage harvesters, grape harvesters and root harvesters. Indeed higher value crops would appear to offer greater potential for increased profit. This paper examines the technology adoption process and discusses some of the issues likely to affect adoption of precision farming here in New Zealand. Keywords: DGPS, GIS, mechanisation systems, precision farming, variable rate applications