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
Pix4Dfields_usecase_prunes_farm
DronesEnhance Your Agriculture Workflow in Less Than 30 Minutes
October 15, 2018
Prunes are European plums with a high sugar content that allows them to dry without fermenting around the pit and Read More
Auto-Thinner
Robotics/Labor SaversPrecision Agriculture in Specialty Crops: Labor, Cost Savings are Key
October 9, 2018
Agriculture is going through an equivalent of what the computer industry went through in the 1970s and 1980s. That’s when Read More
Corn field sunset
Decision Support SoftwareLand O’Lakes SUSTAIN Launches Ambitious Digital Stewardship Platform
September 24, 2018
Land O’Lakes SUSTAIN today announced its plan to roll out the Truterra Insights Engine, an interactive on-farm digital platform that 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
Trending Articles
Mike-Gomes
PrecisionAg InstituteOne on One with Mike Gomes, Topcon
October 15, 2018
Mike Gomes of Topcon Precision Agriculture joins Paul Schrimpf, Group Editor of PrecisionAg Professional magazine, for a discussion of key Read More
PrecisionAg InstitutePrecisionAg Institute Whitepaper Library
October 1, 2018
Welcome to the PrecisionAg Institute Whitepaper library! Here you will find free whitepapers and case studies from the PrecisionAg Institute Partners Read More
Sensors
Sensors/IoTThe Answer to Agriculture’s Daunting Challenges – Soil Sensors
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
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
Latest News
PrecisionAg Vision Conference
EventsDon’t Fret About the Future – the 2019 VISION Co…
October 22, 2018
If you, like me, have been fortunate to witness what Land O’ Lakes CIO Mike Macrie has called the two Read More
rivkaGarcia_FarmsToIncubators_1kpx
Events‘From Farms to Incubators’ Documentary High…
October 18, 2018
“From Farms to Incubators: Telling the stories of minority women entrepreneurs in agtech in the Salinas Valley and beyond” will Read More
ConceptsInAction
Service ProvidersPutting Agronomic Advice Into Action – A Full-Season Fi…
October 17, 2018
It’s one thing to read, write, or know about helping customers best manage their fields – it’s another to put Read More
Hurricane-Florence-Map-featured-image
Data ManagementMythbusting: Is Weather More Unpredictable Due to a Cha…
October 16, 2018
There are some commonly spoken narratives that are actually false, at least as stated in the exact words used, that Read More
Pix4Dfields_usecase_prunes_farm
DronesEnhance Your Agriculture Workflow in Less Than 30 Minut…
October 15, 2018
Prunes are European plums with a high sugar content that allows them to dry without fermenting around the pit and Read More
Winfield
PrecisionAg InstitutePartner Profile with Winfield United
October 15, 2018
Joel Wipperfurth of Winfield United discusses ag technology trends and topics during the 2018 InfoAg Conference. Read More
Fetters
PrecisionAg InstitutePartner Profile with Simplot Grower Solutions
October 15, 2018
Allan Fetters of Simplot Grower Solutions discusses ag technology trends and topics across the industry, and within the company, during Read More
Chappell
PrecisionAg InstituteEncouraging Employees to Think Into the Future is Winni…
October 15, 2018
EFC Systems CEO Ernie Chappell says his company is always looking ahead to understand growers’ future needs. “It’s not just Read More
Raven-SDSU
PrecisionAg InstitutePartnership with SDSU is One Way Raven Industries Advan…
October 15, 2018
Raven Industries’ partnership with South Dakota State University allows the company to work closely with students and staff to advance Read More
Proagrica
PrecisionAg InstituteOne on One with Kirk Appleford, Proagrica
October 15, 2018
Kirk Appleford joins Paul Schrimpf at the 2018 InfoAg Conference to talk about current ag trends, and Proagrica’s recent acquisition Read More
ESRI
PrecisionAg InstituteOne on One with Charlie Magruder, ESRI
October 15, 2018
Charlie Magruder joins Paul Schrimpf for a discussion of current trends in technology that are impacting ESRI, including news from Read More
Shane-Swedlund
PrecisionAg InstituteOne on One with Shane Swedlund, Raven Industries
October 15, 2018
Shane Swedlund of Raven Industries joins Paul Schrimpf at the 2018 InfoAg Conference to share some key learnings from the Read More
Mike-Gomes
PrecisionAg InstituteOne on One with Mike Gomes, Topcon
October 15, 2018
Mike Gomes of Topcon Precision Agriculture joins Paul Schrimpf, Group Editor of PrecisionAg Professional magazine, for a discussion of key Read More
Ernie-Chappell-and-Paul
PrecisionAg InstituteOne on One with Ernie Chappell, EFC Systems
October 15, 2018
Ernie Chappell of EFC Systems joins Paul Schrimpf, Group Editor of PrecisionAg Professional magazine, to talk about topics and trends Read More
Auto-Thinner
Robotics/Labor SaversPrecision Agriculture in Specialty Crops: Labor, Cost S…
October 9, 2018
Agriculture is going through an equivalent of what the computer industry went through in the 1970s and 1980s. That’s when Read More
Growing-Innovations-logo
EventsA Crazy 2018 is Why We Need Growing Innovations
October 8, 2018
If you’re here you likely have received a special Meister Media Worldwide code to get $100 off your registration to Read More
AmericasConBAP 2018 Highlights Precision Agriculture in Brazil
October 8, 2018
The Brazilian Congress of Precision Agriculture 2018 (ConBAP 2018) was held October 2-4 in Curitiba, Paraná. Held every two years, Read More
GAR-Tootelian-Sensor
Service ProvidersGar Tootelian: Putting Ag Technology to the Test
October 8, 2018
In California’s Central Valley, a diverse crop market in which Pest Control Advisors (PCAs) are the dominant players when it Read More