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Precision agriculture is a phrase that captures the imagination of many concerned with the production of food, feed, and fiber.  The concepts embodied in precision agriculture offer the promise of increasing productivity while decreasing production costs and minimizing environmental impacts.  Precision agriculture conjures up images of farmers overcoming the elements with computerized machinery that is precisely controlled via satellites and local sensors and using planning software that accurately predicts crop development. This image has been called the future of agriculture. 

--excerpt from ¡°The Beginning¡±

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Gary Wagner has written a few chapters (for his upcoming book) on his philosophy of precision agriculture. View or download chapters below:

¡°The Beginning¡±
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¡°Yield Monitors and Mapping¡±
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The evolution of precision agriculture
The government has been using ¡°remote sensing¡± techniques since the 1930s, using airplanes to photograph soil and forests.

But, experts say, the birthplace of modern precision agriculture was in Minnesota, where in the late 1970s, Control Data Corp., Cenex and Farmers Union Central Exchange Inc., formed a joint venture to develop databases on farms¡¯ soil and crop conditions, using field scouting and aerial photographs.

The program fostered a better awareness of soil and crop variability within fields, and Pierre Robert, director of of the University of Minnesota¡¯s Precision Agriculture Center.  That research led to the development of a spreader changed the blend and application rate of fertilizer on the go.

In 1983, a company called SoilTeq was created to advance that technology by Cenex of Inver Grove Heights and Orty¡¯s Aerial Photo and Waconia Manufacturing, both of Waconia.

Meanwhile, Robert had started computerizing county soil surveys, work that confirmed the wide variations of nutrient levels found within fields.

Precise-yield mapping came along in the 1990s with the use of the global positioning system, provided by satellites owned by the U.S. Department of Defense.

Satellite imagery, which uses infrared and other bands of light for long-distance pictures, is produced by NASA. At least eight private companies are now providing imagery commercially.

--Joy Powell, Star Tribune

Visit our articles section to learn even more about precision agriculture! 
Also, if you are having trouble with some of the terms used in precision agriculture, we have provided you with a

Precision Agriculture


Powerpoint Slides

Precision Ag Links

Precision Ag Glossary

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Updated April 18, 2004