Precision Agriculture And Food Issues

The political polarization between liberals and conservatives is well known in the U.S. Each side has their ideology which is bolstered by a few facts and lots of opinions and beliefs.

The same is true in agriculture. There is a polarization between conventional and organic farming. Since more than 90% of the seed planted for corn and soybeans in the U.S. is a genetically-modified organism or GMO, the division is now between GMO and organically grown crops. What is fascinating is that the battle line for GMO vs. organic is not at the point of production but further downstream in the food supply chain. In fact, it is at the point of consumers, whose changing lifestyles are making ripples up and down the chain.

The JAMA Network Journals recently reported that more than two-thirds of adult Americans are either overweight or obese. Overweight and obesity are signs of an unhealthy lifestyle due to eating processed foods high in saturated fats and sugar, consuming oversized meals, no exercise, little sleep and emotional stress. As one ages, an unhealthy lifestyle eventually leads to medical problems, such as high blood pressure, sleep apnea, stroke and diabetes.

Like smoking in the past, when the evidence for poor health becomes overwhelming, people begin to change lifestyles. One of the first changes is usually in their eating habits. People — especially the younger generations — are beginning to judge food not only by its nutritional value, but also by whether it is GMO or organic, locally grown, processed, safely handled, environmentally friendly and sustainability produced. As they seek out better food choices, people are also looking for information to make those choices. This active searching by consumers for new information is impacting vendors throughout the food supply chain.

The division in professional and consumer perceptions about food was recently reported in The Wall Street Journal. In its “Squaring Off” article, the Journal invited advocates on both sides of major food issues to state their positions. Issues included labels required for food containing GMO crops, tax on soda, feedlot vs. open range beef and “deserts” of limited food choices. Each advocate provided facts and arguments to convince the reader of their view on a particular issue.

A Continuing Fight

What immediately becomes apparent when reading competing viewpoints is the biased selection of sources and facts to support a position. For example, in the case of GMO labeling of food, the pro-organic advocate highlighted the presence of novel bacterial, viral and/or other DNA in genetically-engineered crops, while the pro-GMO advocate claimed that organic produce is 10 times more likely to be recalled for bacterial contamination than conventional crops. Given the number of sources, facts and arguments that can be brought to support either position, it is not surprising that an accompanying survey to the Journal article found that 47% of people would avoid eating GMO crops. Like politics, each opposing position is supported by about half the people.

The battle to convince the public to take one side or the other on food issues is far from over. What is an undeniable fact is that obesity has become an epidemic in all age groups and is increasingly contributing to health problems in the U.S. It can be argued that each one of us knows at least one family member or friend who is excessively overweight to the point of needing medical help. This awareness — like the link between cigarettes and cancer — will undoubtedly affect our eating habits and food choices.

And when that awareness sinks in, we will seek out facts about food. It is exactly this point that precision agriculture can contribute valuable data to help consumers make informed choices about food. Precision agriculture is uniquely positioned to provide the facts sought by consumers on how their food is grown. Nearly all precision agriculture software tracks production practices, including the time, types and amounts of materials applied to a field. The same software records the choice of hybrid seed and treatments. Some precision agriculture programs offer a “traceability” service that allows vendors in the food supply chain to be aware of the recorded production practices for a harvested crop. Many of these services offer visual evidence as well as textual records of crop health through a growing season. Additionally, recently-developed online calculators allow growers to enter production practices to determine if their farming systems are environmentally friendly and/or sustainable relative to state, regional and national benchmarks.

Precision agriculture software can do more than account for crop production practices. It can provide precise spatial maps of where a seed is planted or a crop protection product is applied in a field. It can employ water balance models to simulate soil moisture conditions in the field to justify irrigation applications. Software in the form of mobile devise applications or apps can assist a grower in the selection of pest controls based on the intensity of a scouted pest, beneficial organisms, maximum residue limits and environmental regulations.

More Development For Precision Ag

Precision agriculture has all the tools for collecting the crop production data sought by consumers. But these data are not fully integrated into the information flow that originates with the field and ends with the consumer. New programs are needed to facilitate this integration so that downstream vendors can interpret precision agriculture data and pass them on in a language and form understood by consumers. Precision agriculture can expand its role, from providing information to growers for their production decisions to providing data to consumers for their food decisions.

Leave a Reply

Specialty Crops Stories
Wingtra
DronesOpinion: Combining Two Pluses with the WingtraOne UAV
September 13, 2018
For the every-day consumer interested in UAVs, there is an ocean of products from which to choose. This includes the Read More
DronessenseFly Launches eBee X Drone, Breaks Through 1,000 acre Coverage Ceiling
September 5, 2018
senseFly today reportedly sets a new standard in mapping tools with the launch of the eBee X. Launched with the Read More
Robotics/Labor SaversWill We Pay Robots by the Hour? [Opinion]
August 28, 2018
I’ve attended a fair number of grower seminars around the country on the potential new technology headed for the farm, Read More
Shake-and-Catch-Harvesting-Platform
Robotics/Labor SaversWhat’s the Future of Orchard Robotics in Pennsylvania?
August 28, 2018
During the past several decades, agriculture, in general, has made advancements as a result of automation and precision management technologies. However, Read More
Trending Articles
Soil-Hand
Data ManagementAre You Using Your Soil to Its Full Potential?
September 14, 2018
Harvest is progressing across most parts of the U.S. and those growers who aren’t already harvesting are gearing up to Read More
Grower-Retailer
Imagery/SensingAgtech: 10 Things I Hate About You!
September 4, 2018
Before you get bent out of shape from the title, remember if you’ve read my articles before you know I Read More
Kansas State University
Industry NewsKansas State University, Topcon Form Precision Ag Research Partnership
August 30, 2018
Kansas State University and Topcon Agriculture are collaborating to develop tools and systems to advance precision agriculture and support farmers. Read More
Blockchain building block graphic
Specialty CropsIs Blockchain the Future of Food Safety?
August 24, 2018
When the Internet Protocol Suite (TCP/IP) was standardized in 1982, permitting the worldwide proliferation of interconnected networks and eventually the Read More
WinField’s Joel Wipperfurth On Empowering Data-Driven Decisions
InfoAg ConferenceOne on One with Joel Wipperfurth, Winfield United
August 15, 2018
Winfield United's Joel Wipperfurth discusses ag technology trends and topics during last month’s InfoAg Conference. Read More
Geosys
Industry NewsUrtheCast to Acquire Geosys from Land O’Lakes in $20 Million Deal
August 15, 2018
UrtheCast Corp. and Land O’Lakes, Inc. today announced they have entered a binding term sheet for the purchase of Geosys Read More
Latest News
Business ManagementIvy Tech, Farmers Partner to Help Precision Ag Educatio…
September 20, 2018
Harvest time has taken on a new meaning for some Wabash Valley farmers, and Bobbi Hunt-Kincaid hopes her family’s first Read More
Sensors
Sensors/IoTThe Answer to Agriculture’s Daunting Challenges – Soil …
September 20, 2018
According to the United Nations, 9.6 billion people will live on planet Earth by 2050. Feeding these mouths will require Read More
Google-Earth-Map-featured-image
Data ManagementRainfall Revisited: Accurate Observations and Beyond
September 18, 2018
As a provider of weather analysis and forecast services to the agricultural industry, one of the most common questions I Read More
PenelopeNagel
Business ManagementWhy Is Funding a Challenge for Women-Led Agtech Compani…
September 17, 2018
When it comes to women-led agtech companies the funding discussion never seems to cease. In June after the The New Read More
Mobile Phone in field
Decision Support SoftwareWhy Are 570 Million Farmers Not Yet Using Agricultural …
September 17, 2018
Until recently, using agricultural apps and software was a rare practice among growers. This is now changing. The mass adoption Read More
Soil-Hand
Data ManagementAre You Using Your Soil to Its Full Potential?
September 14, 2018
Harvest is progressing across most parts of the U.S. and those growers who aren’t already harvesting are gearing up to Read More
Grower Services & SolutionsDeere-Granular Collaboration Produces New Profit Maps T…
September 14, 2018
The newest development from the ongoing John Deere-Granular product development and marketing collaboration is Profit Maps, now available to farmers Read More
Wingtra
DronesOpinion: Combining Two Pluses with the WingtraOne UAV
September 13, 2018
For the every-day consumer interested in UAVs, there is an ocean of products from which to choose. This includes the Read More
Farmer-tablet
AsiaShould Agri-Input Manufacturers Outsource E-Commerce to…
September 12, 2018
Editor’s note: Venky Ramachandran is a contributing writer for PrecisionAg.com’s sister site, AgriBusinessGlobal.com. This article was originally published on LinkedIn. Now, Read More
ICON-Link-Licensing_featured-image
Industry NewsValley Irrigation Adds Remote Irrigation Management Opt…
September 11, 2018
Valley Irrigation, an industry leader in smart irrigation solutions, has announced enhancements to its remote management technologies. Multi-Year Licensing In Read More
Reflex-Connect-Agri-Inject-featured-image
Variable Rate ApplicationVariable Rate Fertigation System Expands with Mobile Co…
September 10, 2018
Building on the success of its Reflex Variable Rate Fertigation system, Agri-Inject has taken fluid injection to the next level Read More
Industry NewsTeralytic Earns Ag Data Transparent Certification
September 10, 2018
Soil analytics company Teralytic has completed the Ag Data Transparent certification, affirming that their data use is private, secure, and Read More
Business ManagementTop 20 Two-Year Colleges for Precision Agriculture
September 10, 2018
Earlier this year, I compiled a list of the 25 best colleges for precision agriculture. It was quite the process. Read More
Industry NewsRaven, Topcon Announce Slingshot API Agreement
September 6, 2018
Raven Industries and Topcon Agriculture announced today a licensing agreement for Topcon Agriculture’s use of the Slingshot Application Programming Interface Read More
Tablet Grower
Data ManagementThe Power of Predictive Analytics in Agriculture
September 5, 2018
Years ago if we would have been told computers, data, and technology would be scattered around every farm there may Read More
DronessenseFly Launches eBee X Drone, Breaks Through 1,000 ac…
September 5, 2018
senseFly today reportedly sets a new standard in mapping tools with the launch of the eBee X. Launched with the Read More
AmericasOn The Scene: 2018 Farm Progress Show Wrap Up
September 5, 2018
Former Monsanto President (now Bayer CropScience Chief Operating Office) Brett Begemann’s opening salvo during his first appearance at a Farm Read More
EventsAg Experts Discuss Big Data Challenges in Agriculture
September 5, 2018
Agricultural experts at a Houston conference praised the advancements in unmanned aerial vehicles, sensors, and data-collecting technology used in precision Read More