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On-farm technology report findings released

Astudy of American farmers’ adoption of precision agriculture technology indicates that during the first two decades of the 21st century, acreage farmed with automated systems has increased 10-fold or more.

The findings are reported in a study conducted by Kansas State University precision agriculture economist Terry Griffin and colleagues with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service.

The report, Precision Agriculture in the Digital Era: Recent Adoption on U.S. Farms, is available online. Griffin said the report studies adoption of precision technology on several major crops, including corn, soybean, winter wheat, grain sorghum and more.

“The most adopted technologies typically have the word ‘automated’ in their names,” Griffin said. “The reason for that is that they tend to make life a little bit easier for the operators than if they didn’t have the technology.”

As an example, Griffin said equipment that provides automated guidance makes life easier for farmers as they work through fields, “but the user doesn’t have to understand any of the high technology that goes into it.”

“Automated guidance is embodied into the technology,” Griffin said. “The user is endowed with the ability to use it.”

From 2001 to 2016, auto-steer guidance systems were used on 5.3 percent of planted corn acres in the United States, and increased to 58 percent in 2016. Griffin said that 2019 estimates for sorghum and cotton indicated that 72.9 percent and 64.5 percent of planted acres, respectively, used auto-steer systems.

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