Missouri farmers took a sneak peak at the future of precision agriculture Friday at MU as part of Ag Sciences Week.
“Harnessing the Power of Technology” was the theme for the conference that highlighted experiences and outcomes for precision agriculture in Missouri.
“We try to give them a day where they can come and learn the latest information and technology that is going on throughout the state,” said Kent Shannon, associate director of the center.
Speakers’ topics included profit mapping, yield data processing, GPS guidance and site-specific nitrogen management. Each of the topics was designed to teach agriculture producers effective uses of technology to improve management practices and increase bottom lines.
Kelly Robertson, a certified professional agronomist and crop adviser from Illinois, was the keynote speaker. Robertson said that precision farming is collecting and analyzing data to assign a value to the conclusions.
“The value of new technology isn’t doing something better, but doing something you
couldn’t do with old technology,” Robertson said. He mentioned new methods like grid soil mapping, site specific application, variable rate application and yield monitoring during his speech.
Robertson encouraged producers to use technology to “model the environment” in order to better understand what is happening in the field and why it is happening.
Yield maps have been a big help to Robertson. Infrared technology can show producers the high and low yield areas in their crops. Digital pictures taken with a personal camera can become infrared images that help producers determine which areas require more or less fertilizer. The technique is also valuable because it saves money in the long run.
“We’re going to face a time when it will be more important to predict and justify what we do and why we do it,” Robertson said. “We need to use all the tools we can to make better decisions and increase profitability.”
Robertson said he sees data modeling as the single most rewarding precision agriculture tool for the future.
“Right now, we look at data and analyze it, but don’t seem to do anything with it,” Robertson said. “What works on one field may not work for the other one.”
Missouri Precision Agriculture Center organized the event for the eighth year.