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January 22, 2024
Precision agriculture is not a new concept. But since it is constantly changing and evolving, it continuously brings new solutions and ideas to the world of farming. And it will be a big part of the 2024 Southern Farm Show lineup.
Precision agriculture, or PA, started in the early '90s, and many farmers are already using it, through features like GPS and autosteering. With artificial intelligence and newer technology added to the mix, today’s precision ag programs and equipment take things to a new level.
Clemson University precision ag specialist Kevin Royal says PA can securely store farm data via cloud technology and translate years of notes taken about seed applications or soil fertility into comparative data.
“I kind of think this (precision ag) will get easier to do,” Royal says. “I think the equipment is getting easier to operate and data will become easier to use. Formats used to be a big issue, or difficulties using a mapping tool. A lot has gotten easier over time, and a lot will get more automated in the future.”
How farmers use this technology depends on budget and broadband access. For people without a strong signal, information can be saved on USB drives out in the field and taken back home to upload to their database. But having real-time connection makes for more accurate and efficient tracking and diagnosis.
Current PA can help farmers in a variety of areas, identifying potential issues before they begin, tracking histories of seeding or fertilizations or treating areas that are not as easy to reach.
“It’s an evolving technology and things are going to change all the time, especially on the equipment side,” Royal says. “It is easy to get started and get your feet wet in that area. But the application and equipment side always going to change and hopefully become easier and more integrated, and that’s where things are heading.”
There are a lot of directions to go in with precision agriculture, and farmers may feel overwhelmed with making the right choice for their farm.
While they have many things to think about when deciding where to start, Royal says it is important for them to consider what’s most needed on their farm right now, and stresses that a majority of farmers will not be able to implement multiple methods of PA to start.
It can be costly but when the initial investment leads to higher returns, it can be worth it.
“My advice is to prioritize where you want to spend your time and your dollars,” Royal says. “There's always going to be a learning curve. It’s helpful to have a good dealer or advisor through your extension service, to find people you trust in those areas. Try not to do it all at once. Focus on time and return on investment. If that works out, move on and add another layer.”
Ten vendors will bring their precision ag expertise to the 2024 Southern Farm Show, Jan. 31-Feb. 2 in Raleigh, NC. Stop by their booths to learn more about their offerings as well as how you can get started taking your business to the next level with precision ag.
For more information on the Southern Farm Show, call (800) 849-0248 or visit the show website at www.SouthernFarmShow.com.
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