Precision Around The World

The 10th International Conference on Precision Agriculture (ICPA) was truly an international experience this year, with more than 400 attendees from 40 countries represented at the biennial event in Denver, CO. An engaged and enthusiastic crowd took in scientific presentations and poster displays, an A to Z practitioner seminars and informative general sessions, then networked during the meals and receptions throughout the event.

The tone for the conference was set at the opening general session by Dr. Raj Khosla, a professor at Colorado State University and coordinator of ICPA, who asserted the need to discover and embrace best agronomic practices and precision technology’s role in reaching that goal.

He was followed by Dr. Kenneth Cassman, director of the Nebraska Center for Energy Sciences Research at the University of Nebraska, who challenged the assumption that biotechnology will serve as the predominant underpinning for meeting this expected global food demand.

While biotech crops will certainly assume its share of the yield increase, agronomic practices also have substantially improved yield potential through better fertilizer application practices, planting regimens, and crop protection product application and timing, among other factors. Cassman believes that there is a lack of balance in the discussion — that agronomy is taking a back seat to seed technology and is not receiving the required research attention.

His points were taken a step further in a later session hosted by consultant Dr. Harold Reetz, who lamented the lack of qualified agronomic talent emerging from universities today. Reduced funding for agronomic research has served to reduce the number of research assistant opportunities, he said, leading to fewer agronomy graduates. This will be a difficult big picture trend for agriculture to deal with in the future.

Here are additional items of note and observations by the editors of PrecisionAg Special Reports:

New International Precision Association

Many months of work and coordination culminated in the christening of a new organization, the International Society of Precision Agriculture (ISPA). Sponsored by Colorado State University, the Foundation for Agronomic Research and the International Plant Nutrition Institute, the ISPA’s mission is to advance the science and practice of precision agriculture globally.

Khosla, who has been primarily responsible for reestablishing the links between international precision agriculture educators, universities and research that had been fading since the untimely passing of Dr. Pierre Robert in 2003, was voted in as the association’s first president. His supporting cast includes Dr. John Stafford, editor of the International Journal of Precision Agriculture as president-elect, Nicholas Tremblay, research scientist at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada as secretary, and Angela Guidry, soil service manager and field research scientist at SGS North America as treasurer. All will serve two-year terms.

On-The-Go Sensors On The Go

The hardware is sound, the algorithms make sense and the market is paying attention. On-the-go sensor technology was one of the most discussed technologies at the conference, and after more than a decade of work, it is inching closer to the mainstream for use in nitrogen application. Ted Mayfield, who toiled away on the Greenseeker and Weedseeker technologies for many years before Trimble purchased the company in 2007, said he felt that the technology is turning the corner and poised to gain wider acceptance.

It won’t be an easy road forward. One psychological challenge has been the required change in mindset for the grower about applying nitrogen (N), the mother’s milk of crop nutrients. N must be applied partially in spring and partially in season, with the sidedressed in-season portion of the fertilizer allocated automatically and instantaneously by the sensor. Where sidedressing is not traditionally practiced, there’s an additional equipment requirement.

Then there’s the fact that the payback is often not in a reduction in N applied, but in N utilization by deficient plants — in other words, more N is used than was originally planned. But the resulting increase in yield from feeding deficient plants creates the payback. Ag Leader’s Roger Zielke, who’s heading up research work on the OptRx sensor in partnership with Holland Scientific, says recent research on wheat is indicating that a substantial dollar per acre benefit will be realized once the harvest is in. That’s taking into consideration the additional expense of more N used against what looks to be a significant boost in yield.

Bottom line is, in-season N application through the use of on the go sensors is worth a serious look.

Wireless — Can We All Just Get Along?

Back in 2005, we did a special issue on GPS and at the time predicted that repeatable (RTK level) global positioning signal access would evolve into a utility like electricity that would make it more available and useful to growers and the individuals and businesses that serve them. Fortunately we did not state a timeline, which in hindsight was brilliant. Five years later, we are still plugging along.

What we did not foresee was the proliferation of cell-based RTK, and the revelation that paring a whole host of capabilities and connectivity solutions and riding on the cell-based signal would not only become a reality, but proliferate in rapid fashion. The year 2010 has become the year when wireless everything, from GPS to data transfer to Internet access to vehicle tracking, is becoming a reality. In the rush to climb onto the bandwagon, solutions are rolling out that range widely in price, compatibility and completeness of offering.

We believe that we will see a real sorting out of technologies and players in the near term, so dig deep and ask a lot of questions if you’re taking the plunge on these wireless solutions.

Leave a Reply

Regions Stories
Tomato-crop-India
AsiaIndia Maps 185 Districts Through Remote Sensing for Horticulture
October 17, 2017
India’s Union Ministry of Agriculture has mapped 185 districts under a project using remote sensing technology to identify areas best Read More
Brazil-Soybean-field
AmericasIPNI Brazil: Precision Agriculture to Improve Nutrient Use Efficiency
October 16, 2017
As I mentioned in my last article, the IPNI Brazil Symposium on Precision Agriculture was held in early October in Read More
Ag Retailer and Grower WinField United
Australia/New ZealandNew Technologies vs. Agronomic Knowledge in Precision Agriculture
October 4, 2017
As the days are getting longer and the temperature is starting to rise, Australian broadacre growers are gearing up for Read More
Drone
EuropeUK: Robotic Farm Completes First Fully Autonomous Harvest
October 3, 2017
It’s harvest season in many parts of the world, but on one farm in the United Kingdom, robots — not Read More
Trending Articles
Decision Support SoftwareFarmers Edge, Service Provider Talk High-Frequency Imagery Deal
October 11, 2017
As the domestic ag tech market continues to mature and develop as we barrel into 2018, another intriguing partnership has Read More
Corn Field Sunset
Industry NewsEFC Systems’ FieldAlytics Now Available in Canada
September 29, 2017
According to an AgPR news release, FieldAlytics is now available in Canada through FieldAlytics Solutions Canada, Inc. This new company Read More
Decision Support SoftwareSciFi in Ag: Chatbot with your Plants?
September 26, 2017
(Article Notes: This monthly column takes some crazy sounding ideas and applies them to the field of Ag Tech. The Read More
deepfield-robotics-bonirob
Robotics/Labor SaversDeepfield Robotics to Showcase Precision Agriculture Technology at Agrilevante
September 22, 2017
Deepfield Robotics is preparing to showcase its robotics and automation technologies for the agriculture market at the Agrilevante event, in Read More
Farmer with iPad
Australia/New ZealandAgrian Expands into Australia
September 20, 2017
In line with a familiar growth trajectory, Agrian Inc. is moving into Australia with a physical support and sales presence Read More
John-Deere-labs
Tools & Smart EquipmentHow John Deere’s New AI Lab Is Designing Farm Equipment for a More Sustainable Future
September 15, 2017
On a block in San Francisco’s SoMa district, near LinkedIn’s headquarters and dozens of startups, a 180-year-old company best-known for Read More
Latest News
corn weather
Data ManagementSeasonal Weather Outlooks: High Risk Worth the Reward?
October 18, 2017
Often, when discussing weather service needs with a potential client, I am asked about the possibility of providing long-range weather Read More
Industry NewsAgDNA Announces Dealership Expansion
October 18, 2017
This week AgDNA surpassed their growth projections, announcing partnerships with eight new multi-store dealerships across the mid-west, mid-south and east Read More
Tomato-crop-India
AsiaIndia Maps 185 Districts Through Remote Sensing for Hor…
October 17, 2017
India’s Union Ministry of Agriculture has mapped 185 districts under a project using remote sensing technology to identify areas best Read More
Brazil-Soybean-field
AmericasIPNI Brazil: Precision Agriculture to Improve Nutrient …
October 16, 2017
As I mentioned in my last article, the IPNI Brazil Symposium on Precision Agriculture was held in early October in Read More
Vector-and-Raster-image
Data ManagementUsing Vector Soil Data in a Raster World?
October 16, 2017
Why spend the time and resources to extract the NRCS ‘Soil SURvey GeOgraphic’ (SSURGO) soil polygons only to display the Read More
Precision Irrigation
Precision Irrigation4 Important Ways Precision Technology Is Impacting Irri…
October 12, 2017
Water management is becoming an increasing concern in agriculture, whether that’s dealing with too much or too little water. This Read More
DronesDroneLife: Global Ag Drone Industry Potentially Worth $…
October 12, 2017
Via DroneLife.com’s Jason Reagan: According to an August study by Esticast Research & Consulting Market Research, the global commercial drone Read More
Decision Support SoftwareFarmers Edge, Service Provider Talk High-Frequency Imag…
October 11, 2017
As the domestic ag tech market continues to mature and develop as we barrel into 2018, another intriguing partnership has Read More
Planet Labs satellite imagery
Industry NewsFarmers Edge, Planet Labs Announce Multi-Year Exclusive…
October 11, 2017
Farmers Edge announced today a strategic partnership to bring Planet’s best-in-class global monitoring platform to the Farmers Edge precision agriculture Read More
John Deere Combine Harvester at Hagen Farms
Decision Support SoftwareAg and Rail Equipment Uptime Critical for Good Harvest
October 9, 2017
Across the American Heartland, growers have started harvesting their crops for what the USDA predicts will be a good yield Read More
Ag Drone
Industry NewsBotlink, SST Announce Integration
October 6, 2017
Botlink has announced a seamless flow of actionable aerial data into the agX Platform. This integration makes it quick and Read More
corn field
Industry NewsEFC Purchases AgSolver Assets, Establishes New Sustaina…
October 6, 2017
EFC Systems announced it has purchased the assets of AgSolver Inc. The move establishes a new Agronomic Planning and Sustainabilty Read More
Ag Retailer and Grower WinField United
Australia/New ZealandNew Technologies vs. Agronomic Knowledge in Precision A…
October 4, 2017
As the days are getting longer and the temperature is starting to rise, Australian broadacre growers are gearing up for Read More
Field Sky Beauty shot
Industry NewsClimate, West Central Distribution Join Forces on Phosp…
October 3, 2017
To help farmers improve productivity and return on their investment, West Central Distribution and The Climate Corporation have teamed up Read More
Lettuce-with-a-binary-code
DronesYuma Growers Embrace Precision Production
October 3, 2017
From the Rose Garden at the White House, to the laser-leveled fields of Yuma, AZ (home to 90% of this Read More
Drone
EuropeUK: Robotic Farm Completes First Fully Autonomous Harve…
October 3, 2017
It’s harvest season in many parts of the world, but on one farm in the United Kingdom, robots — not Read More
APSUL overview
AmericasFuture of Digital Agriculture Arrives at South American…
October 2, 2017
Last week I attended the fourth South American Congress of Precision Agriculture and Precision Machinery (IV APSUL America 2017). The Read More
PrecisionAg InstituteThe PrecisionAg Institute Partners
October 1, 2017
Learn more about the companies that have committed their corporate and financial support to the PrecisionAg Institute, an independent global forum dedicated to the sharing of precision agriculture practices, ideas, research, products, services and success stories. Read More