More than three of four growers who use precision technology report that the financial benefits outweigh the costs, regardless of how many corn acres they farm. The more corn acres, the more likely they are to report financial benefits outweigh the costs of the technology.
“Technology has increased their yields and reduced their production costs, both of which add to the bottom line,” concludes the research. Growers surveyed had an average cost savings of 6.8 percent and experienced an average yield increase of 7.6 percent.
Growers responding to the survey report using more than 9 separate precision technology tools in 2012, from grid soil sampling to automatic steering on their tractors. More than 50% use an RTK signal for their GPS equipment.
“Corn growers are looking to invest more in precision ag tools,” says Jan Johnson of Millennium Research, who conducted the research for the PrecisionAg Institute. “They are looking next for on-the-go crop sensing, variable-rate seeding and variable-rate herbicide application.”
When asked “which benefits…have you experienced by using precision farming technology…,” more than 80 percent answered “fewer skips or overlaps within field.” The next five key benefits listed were about reductions: in seed use, input costs, chemicals, fuel and time.
The study was carried out by the PrecisionAg Institute to gain a better understanding of how corn growers are using technology to gain efficiency, optimize production and conserve resources. The survey, a rigorous Internet-based instrument, covered grower use of GPS, automatic steering, variable-rate controllers and field-mapping software. More than 100 completed surveys were tabulated with participants farming anywhere from 300 to 4,500 acres of corn. The average corn acres in 2013 for the respondents, was 1,288.
“GPS, data and variable-rate technology are allowing growers to save money by only using the inputs they need exactly where they need them,” said K. Elliott Nowels, director of the PrecisionAg Institute, sponsor of the study.
This skilled management of inputs and yield enabled by the use of precision ag technology, says Nowels, is also providing farmers a positive message about conservation and stewardship.
“Growers using precision technology are better able to optimize their use of land, water, seed and nutrients,” said Nowels. “That kind of stewardship benefits everyone. The support of our partners will help us reach more growers with that message and also help us tell the story of agriculture’s resource conservation to the wider public.”
Additional findings from the survey will be released this fall.