Corn Growers On Big Plots Are Most Tech-Savvy Of Farmers

U.S. corn farmers are proving themselves to be quick learners, writes Mario Parker on Bloomberg.com.

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Growers producing the grain on big plots — those bigger than 2,900 acres — are using precision-agriculture methods at twice the rate of the nation’s farmers overall, a USDA study released Tuesday said. Their savvy could be paying off. The agency estimates that the new technologies are helping to increase profits.

A three-year slump in grain prices has eroded agriculture incomes, sparking more farmers to adopt the so-called precision-agriculture methods to help increase efficiency. Companies including Deere & Co. are joining the race to create new products for the market that Goldman Sachs Group Inc. estimates could be worth $240 billion by 2050. The technologies encompass everything from GPS-guided tractors that reduces human error and fatigue to granular data analysis that enhances planting decisions.

“Precision-agriculture technologies require a significant investment of capital and time, but may offer cost savings and higher yields through more precise management of inputs,” David Schimmelpfennig, an agricultural economist at the USDA in Washington, wrote in the report.

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