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GPS, drones, robots: Precision agriculture transforming food and farming

Thanks to what is known as “precision agriculture,” farmers can now collect precise data about their fields and use that knowledge to customize how they cultivate each square foot.

One effect is on yields: precision agriculture allows farmers to extract as much value as possible from every seed. That should help feed a global population that the UN projects will reach 9.6 billion by 2050. Precision agriculture also holds the promise of minimizing the environmental impact of farming, since it reduces waste and uses less energy. Someday, it could even allow farmers to depend on robots to evaluate, fertilize, and water each individual plant—thus eliminating the drudgery that has characterized agriculture since its invention.

When it comes to emerging technologies, it is a fool’s errand to pick winners. But the history of farming in the twentieth century offers some clues to its future. Almost all the agricultural technologies that were widely adopted in the twentieth century were characterized by what economists call “embodied knowledge,” meaning that the scientific advancements were contained within them. Farmers didn’t have to know how pesticides killed insects or how a gasoline tractor worked; they just needed to know how to spray the chemical or drive the vehicle. Likewise, the tools of precision agriculture will gain widespread use only once they are sold in easy-to-use forms.

(Source – http://www.geneticliteracyproject.org/2015/05/11/gps-drones-robots-precision-agriculture-transforming-food-and-farming/)

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