Written by Jonna Castanos
Sustainability can mean a lot of different things. According to the Oxford dictionary, sustainability means, “avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance,” as well as, “the ability to be maintained at a certain rate or level.” New advancements in Precision Agriculture (PA) technologies are helping farmers in both of these areas. It’s understandable that the introduction of new farming technologies and practices can make seasoned farmers a bit hesitant, but I think it’s important that we think about not just the next season, but the legacy we leave behind.
First and foremost, the primary goal of precision agriculture is to maintain profitability, efficiency, and sustainability. PA helps guide both immediate and future decisions: what seed to plant in what field, water usage in each section, or the amount of fertilizer/chemical to use. With the adoption of mobile computers and greater access to high-speed internet, we are seeing more and more farm operations implement these PA technologies.
Return on investment in PA depends on the size of the farm, specific technologies introduced, and how that data is being analyzed and implemented. With research and time dedicated to learning the new equipment and technologies, there’s potential for PA to reduce labor and crop input costs, cut back water usage, and help you plan out and execute your next growing season. Again, while PA is not a one-size-fits-all solution, there are definite benefits to implemented practices that works best for your operation.
Tips to Succeed with PA
1. Start with a goal
Creative problem-solving is something that has been done on the farm for centuries. We are learning more and more that the solution can be found within a piece of technology rather than in the shop.
2. Understand the management and maintenance required
Good technology should work for you and it’s important to understand how different PA technologies can work together in order to provide the best results. Just like any piece of equipment, PA technologies need to be maintained in order to maximize their full potential.
3. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes
Recognizing an error and making adjustments in the moment will ensure PA technologies are accomplishing their goal.
4. Have a support network and get connected
There are many online resources that provide help with PA technologies. You can also connect with other farmers who are making similar decisions on their farms.