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Precision ag is about whole farm management

Although some may think of precision agriculture largely in terms of machinery and technology, Steve Phillips thinks of it on a larger scale.

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A farmer works a field. Steve Phillips, director of the International Plant Nutrition Institute North America, says precision agriculture will take farming to a more site-specific approach in areas of nutrient management.

Phillips, director of the International Plant Nutrition Institute North America program, said precision agriculture also is about information management. He shared his thoughts on precision ag during a webinar.

“Precision ag is about whole farm management … being precise with our management,” he said. “It’s about becoming smarter and more knowledgeable. At all levels of agriculture, we need to incorporate more information into the decision-making process.”

Top technologies in 2015 precision agriculture are:

* Mobile devices and data collection.

* Data storage.

* Variable rate applications.

* Remote imaging.

* Unmanned aerial vehicles.

When precision agriculture is combined with the 4R nutrient stewardship philosophy, it’s a powerful combination, Phillips asserted.

The 4 Rs of the philosophy are applying the right fertilizer source at the right rate, at the right time and in the right place.

“What’s unique about the 4R approach is we recognize the interdependency of these four components,” Phillips said. “What happens in one of the four R’s affects the other three.

“The outcomes of 4R nutrient stewardship are greatly influenced by crop and pest management and by soil and water conservation. What precision ag does, is it allows us to emphasize the 4R’s at the same time.”

Phillips said this process is where the future of agriculture is headed — to a more site-specific approach.

“The inclusion of accountability is another way 4R stewardship moves beyond traditional nutrient management,” he said. “One of the main ways this is accomplished is through the inclusion of a dynamic feedback mechanism.

“Precision agriculture tools can provide the feedback and recordkeeping necessary for the accountability and transparency that is needed in nutrient management.”

(Source – http://www.agrinews-pubs.com/Content/News/Latest-News/Article/Getting-it-right-with-precision-agriculture-/8/6/13449)

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