‘Accurate farming’ would be more apt than ‘precision agriculture’ to describe this agricultural practice, says professor Simon Blackmore of Harper Adams University in the UK in an article on the Rural News website.
Blackmore, head of engineering at this agricultural university in the West Midlands, was a keynote speaker at the recent Fertiliser and Lime Research Centre annual workshop at Massey University.
He says the term ‘precision agriculture’ is a misnomer because it doesn’t convey exactly what is happening. It is a systems approach that uses technologies to create new opportunities.
Many technologies used in agriculture, such as GPS, drones and auto steer, were developed outside the sector but are now used to help make crop production systems more efficient, Blackmore says.
“We have a lot of agricultural inputs which we literally throw over the land: chemicals, sprays, fertilisers — we throw them all over the place and how much goes on target? A very, very small amount and the rest all gets leached out into the water and creates problems somewhere else. It’s a crazy situation because farmers are buying this stuff and it’s going off target and creating a problem for someone else.”
Blackmore reckons his role is to give farmers new tools to allow them to become a lot more accurate with their farming systems. To this end, he says, they are developing a concept called ‘intelligently targeted inputs’.