Precision Agriculture Makes Farming More Sustainable, Profitable

UNL Researchers
Joe Luck (left) and Rachel Stevens check seed placement of a multi-hybrid planter being tested as part of a collaborative research project being conducted by University of Nebraska-Lincoln researchers, industry and growers.

Farmers have numerous sources of technology and data available to use in their operations, but many producers struggle with what kind and how much technology they need, according to an article on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources website.

Understanding which technologies and data sets are important and how to best use them is the focus of Joe Luck’s work as Nebraska Extension precision agriculture engineer.

“To me, precision ag has become a catchall term, but basically it refers to hardware and software systems that improve knowledge and decision support to make farming more manageable, sustainable and profitable,” said Luck, who also is an assistant professor of biological systems engineering.

Precision agriculture hardware includes field application equipment and sensor platforms that control products and record as-applied data. Software can then be used to collect and analyze the information with the goal to improve a crop production system.

Luck’s extension work encompasses site-specific management strategies; precision agriculture technology use; and farm management software training.

In one project, for example, Luck and other members of the multidisciplinary UNL Precision Ag Research and Extension team are working with producers and local and regional industry partners to examine how one new technology— the multi-hybrid planter—might benefit producers in the future.

This planter can plant at least two seed varieties in one trip through a field or manage various seed treatments from separate bulk tanks on the planter. Five corn and three soybean fields were planted this year on both dryland and irrigated land. While more than one year of data is needed, the project team believes that preliminary data from this first year will help build future studies. Results from the field sites will be distributed through Nebraska Extension.

Luck also is developing instruments and tools that producers can use to collect information in their operations for improving crop input and water use efficiencies. In Nebraska, technology adoption ranges from those who don’t use technology at all to producers who use it extensively, he said.

And, he added, “The technological needs of a producer farming 1,000 acres are very different from a producer farming 10,000 acres.”

Luck estimates that over 50 percent of farmers engage in some form of agricultural technology. But, he cautions, while technology can be a useful management tool, farmers still need to make decisions.

As part of his extension work, Luck conducts workshops and meetings to share information about precision ag with producers to improve their operations. “I really enjoy talking with people and helping them solve problems,” he said.

Part of Luck’s research deals with “big data,” which is often defined as an accumulation of data that is too large and complex for processing by traditional database management tools. University-based research will be an important part of the larger discussion regarding big data applications in agriculture, he said. UNL is a founding member of the Agricultural Data Coalition (ADC), which is aimed at helping farmers better control, manage and maximize the value of the data they collect daily in their fields.

“There have been extensive activities focused on agriculture data management platforms within the past couple of years, and we’re excited to be part of such advances in which the farmers’ needs are at the core of the platform development process with input from a variety of industry partners,” Luck said.

“I think the development approach taken by the ADC will serve as an industry model for adding value to small and large farm operations with respect to agricultural data privacy, access and utilization.”

Ultimately, Luck hopes all of his work will have an impact beyond Nebraska and will help corn and soybean producers feed the hungry worldwide. His research is funded by public and private organizations, including local commodity boards, industry groups and the USDA.

Leave a Reply

Professionals Stories
Ag Retailer and Growers with tablet WinField United
Grower Services & SolutionsWinField Adds AkerScout App to Answer Tech
June 27, 2017
As farmers and retailers, we know it’s important to have the latest news and insights about tools that can make Read More
Gavin Newsom Forbes AgTech-Summit
ProfessionalsAgTech Summit Aiming High for Modern Farming Solutions
June 12, 2017
THRIVE AgTech, in partnership with SVG Partners and Forbes, is hosting the third annual Forbes AgTech Summit June 28-29 in Read More
Farming big data style
ProfessionalsAre You REALLY a Precision Farming #Agvocate? This Summer, PROVE IT!
June 6, 2017
Go Feed Yourself. That’s the catchphrase of my favorite ag Twitter personality, Shark Farmer (@sf28430), who besides bringing plenty of Read More
Alabama bottomland
Business ManagementGreenPoint AG: Dealing in Ag Tech Down on the Delta
June 5, 2017
Precision-farming veteran Ben Carlisle is the Agricultural Technology Manager for GreenPoint AG, LLC, a retailer with locations in Arkansas, Louisiana, Read More
Trending Articles
PrecisionAg Vision Conference
EventsPrecisionAg® Vision Conference: Focused on the Future
June 13, 2017
PrecisionAg® is pleased to announce the return of its PrecisionAg Vision Conference, October 10-12, 2017. Based on overwhelmingly positive response Read More
Gavin Newsom Forbes AgTech-Summit
ProfessionalsAgTech Summit Aiming High for Modern Farming Solutions
June 12, 2017
THRIVE AgTech, in partnership with SVG Partners and Forbes, is hosting the third annual Forbes AgTech Summit June 28-29 in Read More
Quantix Drone Farmer
DronesTop 10 Most Intriguing Technologies in Agriculture
June 3, 2017
This may be a bit of stating the obvious here, but we’ll throw it out there anyways: as much as Read More
Farming iPad
Data ManagementOpinion: ROI or Die in Precision Agriculture
May 12, 2017
The thought of $3.50 corn for the foreseeable future seems pretty disheartening. However, if you look at the precision ag Read More
BASF Maglis grower retailer tablet
Data ManagementQ&A: What BASF’s Latest Foray into Precision Ag Means For Growers
May 11, 2017
In late April, BASF agreed to acquire U.S. precision ag player ZedX, a leader in the development of agronomic weather, Read More
Mung beans Australia
InternationalPrecision Ag in a Tough Season in Australia
May 8, 2017
This year’s summer crop season has been a tough one for most growers in Australia. Prolonged periods of high temperatures Read More
Latest News
Ag Retailer and Growers with tablet WinField United
Grower Services & SolutionsWinField Adds AkerScout App to Answer Tech
June 27, 2017
As farmers and retailers, we know it’s important to have the latest news and insights about tools that can make Read More
Data ManagementCDMS Announces SeedIQ Acquisition
June 26, 2017
Crop Data Management Systems, Inc., (CDMS) announces the acquisition of SeedIQ as part of its growth plan to provide complete Read More
Cotton closeup
Imagery/SensingCotton Growth Management with Precision Agriculture
June 20, 2017
A cotton crop presents some important differences to other commodities that are widely produced in Brazil, such as soybean and Read More
Corn Field
Industry NewsCNBC: Inside Amazon’s Whole Foods Takeover
June 20, 2017
Amazon’s takeover of Whole Foods sent the stock of competing grocery chains plummeting. To understand why, you need to know Read More
DronesNavigating a New World: Drone Technology in Agriculture…
June 20, 2017
My first exposure to unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) was as a master’s student at Kansas State University. I was researching Read More
Precision Ag Innovation Series
EventsInnovation Series Agenda Zeroes In On Maximizing Key Se…
June 14, 2017
In a recent survey of service providers conducted by PrecisionAg® Professional magazine, more than seven in 10 indicated that variable Read More
Soil Scientists
Data ManagementAccessing USDA Soil Data for Precision Farming
June 13, 2017
Many precision farming websites have integrated the USDA NRCS soil survey database using the USDA Soil Data Access web portal. Read More
GEOSYS In-Season Imagery
Decision Support SoftwareGeosys Announces Imagery and Weather Data Offering
June 13, 2017
Geosys, a provider of agronomic decision support tools, today launched Geosys Labs, a new program that will make its global Read More
PrecisionAg Vision Conference
EventsPrecisionAg® Vision Conference: Focused on the Future
June 13, 2017
PrecisionAg® is pleased to announce the return of its PrecisionAg Vision Conference, October 10-12, 2017. Based on overwhelmingly positive response Read More
Decision Support SoftwareMyriad Mobile Raises $1.5 Million to Launch New Ag-Tech…
June 12, 2017
Myriad Mobile, a software technology company focused on mobile and web applications, has raised $1.5 million in a Pre-Series A Read More
center-pivot-irrigation-drop-sprinklers-on-corn
Variable Rate ApplicationVariable-Rate Fertigation Can Be Simple
June 12, 2017
A rule is a rule is a rule, right? Well, not always. Sometimes, rules are meant to be changed. Most Read More
Gavin Newsom Forbes AgTech-Summit
ProfessionalsAgTech Summit Aiming High for Modern Farming Solutions
June 12, 2017
THRIVE AgTech, in partnership with SVG Partners and Forbes, is hosting the third annual Forbes AgTech Summit June 28-29 in Read More
Sensors/IoTLeveraging IoT to Improve Data Collection for Agricultu…
June 12, 2017
Between population growth and climate change, farms of all sizes are being challenged to increase yields. Internet of Things (IoT) Read More
DronesAg Drone Update: The Hunt for 1,000 (OPINION)
June 10, 2017
Having obtained my FAA Part 107 Commercial Drone Operators license back in September of last year, I’ve spent the past Read More
Industry NewsMergers & Acquisitions: Land O’Lakes Tosses E…
June 9, 2017
Land O’Lakes has made a minority equity investment in EFC Systems, an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) and precision solution provider Read More
Mixmate-featured-image
Decision Support SoftwareHandy Software, Hardware for the Field
June 7, 2017
More than two decades ago, Iowa grower Doug Applegate wished for a “little portable chemical blending system” that could easily Read More
Decision Support SoftwareHarnessing A Team To Build Your Own Software
June 7, 2017
What’s a powerhouse retail network to do when it can’t find a software system to meet incredibly diverse needs? Build Read More
Tim Ferrell Marshall County Co-op
Decision Support SoftwareWhen It’s Time To Switch Software
June 7, 2017
No one in their right mind wants to change software. That’s the opinion of Tim Ferrell, manager of Marshall County Read More