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Precision agriculture leading to increasing farmer profits

Precision agriculture leading to increasing farmer profits

From pumpkin farmers to wheat farmers, precision agriculture is about the quest for return on investment

Perhaps it reflected the maturity of precision agriculture, but a common theme throughout the 2018 Precision Agriculture Conference and Ag Technology Showcase, recently held in Saskatoon, Sask., was that precision agriculture is about a farmer’s bottom line.  Do farmers who are active in precision agriculture see a return on their investment?

It’s easy to be distracted by the cool new technology and the fancy soil maps when attending a precision agriculture event.  But it is important to remember that these are all a means to an end.  Whether you utilize drones or ground mapping techniques, and no matter how the data is manipulated and presented.

Norm Lamothe, Co-Founder, Head UAS Agriculture, Deveron USA, and Aaron Breimer, Manager, Veritas Farm Management presented on the “The Value of Precision Crop Imagery and On Farm Case Studies.” Breimer began with important questions for those already active in precision agriculture, “Did you make more money? Were you more efficient? Did you enhance your relationship with your supplier because of the information gathered through precision agriculture?”

Breimer shared the story of a pumpkin farmer who used drone data to scan his field to determine how many pumpkins were growing in his field.  Well ahead of harvest, the pumpkin farmer can tell his supplier exactly how many pumpkins he will harvest. 

Breimer shared similar stories of precision data being used for processing peas, and how drone imagery is used for food safety, by identifying when trash from a nearby road, has made it into the crop field.  That trash can be removed well before harvest, instead of being hidden by the crop, and inadvertently being collected when harvesting.  

As Trevor Thornton of Crop Care Consulting stated during his breakout session, “Nowadays, with the current margins in agriculture, we don’t have the luxury of giving up opportunities for efficiencies.”  Thornton’s presentation focused on variable rate techniques.  He believes that not accounting for variability in the field is a lost opportunity.  His breakout session was about “Precision soil information and reviewed SoilOptix mapping case studies.”

Thornton noted that it is important to realize that when you make changes to one nutrient it will impact other nutrients, for example adjusting nitrogen can impact copper later. 

Both Breimer and Thornton agreed that with margins getting tighter for farmers, precision agriculture can help farmers reduce waste, increase efficiency, and enhance the bottom line. 

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