For every 10 crop producers who’ve adopted precision agriculture technology, 8 report that it’s made them more money.
For years this has been the question: will buying this new technology – GPS, a yield monitor, an electronic controller – make me any more money? We took the question to hundreds of growers of corn, cotton, soybeans and wheat all across the country. Eighty percent of them said they were more profitable because of their use of precision agriculture technology (Figure 1).
While the cost reduction or yield benefits of some ag technologies have been easy to compute (think Roundup Ready soybeans), others have an ROI that’s a little more difficult to figure. Among those are the tools of precision.
Consider your use of a cell phone: how much fuel does a cell phone save you every growing season? How much more money did a cell phone make you this year when you were able to react to moving market prices from your seat in the combine? So is your cell phone investment worth it?
Precision agriculture is similar. There are ways to arrive at a per-acre savings and an idea of what your enhanced yield might be, but it doesn’t tell you the whole story. Being able to make smarter decisions adds up to more effectively spreading your management across all aspects of your operation, saving time, maximizing inputs and gaining better return.
Unwrapping the question further was made possible by quizzing the growers using precision agriculture technology on exactly what was bringing about these cost reduction and yield benefits (Figure 2). Here the top seven responses are tallied, with responses broken out for corn/soy, cotton and wheat. Accurate seeding and more efficient use of chemicals and fertilizer head the list with a nod also to labor costs – whether it’s hired labor or time efficiency of the grower.
Add in the stewardship element of precision agriculture and you have quite a compelling case for adoption. – K. Elliott Nowels