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Courtesy: Kowloonese [CC BY 3.0 ] via Wikimedia Commons


Written collaboratively by Gared Shaffer and Laura Edwards.

Common Questions

When precision agriculture comes into a conversation a few questions arise. Three of those questions might be: What is precision agriculture? How does precision agriculture make our farm more profitable? What do I do with all this data?

What is precision ag?

It is a farming management concept based on observing and responding to intra-field variations, consisting of automated controls, gathering and using geospatial data. Precision agriculture includes collecting data, but also using it to inform in-season and long-term management decisions.

How can precision agriculture make our farm profitable?

The most widely adopted areas in precision ag have to do with what is automated. Bruce Erickson from Purdue University said, “The technologies that have been the most rapidly adopted are those that are automated….things like sprayer controllers, planter row shut offs and tools that guide implements through the field are helping reduce costs”. The cost though, to start precision farming can be a daunting task and make farmers nervous with the current low commodity prices and high prices of precision equipment. Precision Ag technology can provide some information on where you can balance optimum yield with costs of inputs, such as fertilizer/nutrients, hybrid choice, and other treatments.

What do I do with all this data?

This is why there has been a large increase in the use of not just the technology but also for analysis and advisory services from numerous precision ag industry providers. Over time, growers can utilize data that has been collected from yield maps, “as-applied” maps, weather/climate data, and other data, to identify areas where more intensive management may be beneficial, or where less intensive management may produce just as well. These data may also show what climate conditions are favorable across various areas, such as which locations prefer wetter, drier, cooler or warmer growing conditions.

19th Annual Precision Agriculture Conference

February 27, 2018 @ Aberdeen, SD

In the Aberdeen area, precision ag conferences were developed and initiated based on the demand for this information to be promoted between farmers, industry and extension to see the benefits, how to adapt and how to use precision ag tools on the market, in combination with current best management practices. The 19th Annual Precision Agriculture conference on February 27, 2018, will help local producers be more profitable and be informed. This conference is co-organized by SDSU Extension, South Dakota State University’s Precision Ag program, and Agtegra Cooperative.

At this year’s conference, Brad Carlson from the University of Minnesota will give a presentation on variable rate nitrogen and what is it based on. Teddy Bekel from Winfield United will be speaking on the topic of “Is digital the future of Ag?” and Mike Jaspers, the South Dakota Secretary of Agriculture, will be a keynote presenter after lunch. Laura Edwards (SDSU Extension State Climatologist) will partner with Gared Shaffer (SDSU Extension Weeds Field Specialist) to discuss weed management and weather in the 2018 growing season.


For more information view the 19th Annual Precision Ag Conference event listing.

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