Farmers who use precision ag technology tend to do so because it makes their operations more efficient and collects data that will help them become better decision makers. With precision ag, farmers can put the right hybrids or varieties – plus the right amount of fertilizers and crop inputs – on each acre. Findings from a new study published in Significance (a statistical magazine) suggests that precision ag also has a positive impact on food security.
University of Reading professor Margaret A. Oliver says improved ways to measure field properties using geostatistics has enabled a more precise placement of fertilizers and pesticides, which in turn improves crop quality and ultimately food security. Farmers are also better equipped to determine where more water or drainage is needed, she says.
"Precision agriculture will aid efforts to improve food security and also crop quality," she says. "It will also have a major effect on reducing adverse effects on the environment from agriculture."
Precision is becoming increasingly standard worldwide, Oliver notes. Some aspect of it, whether soil sampling, yield mapping or auto-guidance, is used in an estimated 10% of global food production. The U.S. adoption rate has been much higher – the UDSA’s Economic Research Service estimates yield monitoring is now used on over 40% of U.S. grain crop acres.