Equipment/Technology, North America, Smart Farming

Precision agriculture technology helps farmers – but they need help

Lee Nunn has the first tractor his grandfather ever bought sitting at his farm in Madison, about an hour east of Atlanta: a 1968 John Deere 4020 that’s gleaming green and still runs like a dream.

As Stephen Fowler reports in this Georgia Public Broadcasting news story published by NPR, at the time, it was a technological marvel, with a 90 horsepower engine, a canopy roof – and zero computers.

“This was the first model of tractor back in the day – Now think, it’s 1968 – that had an automatic cigarette lighter in 1968 and his people thought that was the best thing in the absolute world,” Nunn said.

But a few rows down is what Nunn drives today, a behemoth John Deere 8360 machine that is outfitted with air conditioning, heated seats, tinted windows and other modern comforts that make those 10-12 hour days in the field a little more bearable.

“Farming’s come a long way, we’re a little bit ahead of the straw hats and the overalls days now,” Nunn said, noting that his operation is a far cry from his grandfather’s tractor.

“Precision agriculture in most broadest terms would be a system whereby we can deliver exactly what a set of plants needs when they need it, no more, no less,” said Eric Elsner, who runs the University of Georgia’s J. Phil Campbell Sr. Research and Education Center.

“The precision ag technology can help that farmer make really complex decisions that are better decisions than if we just left it to the human brain and human nature,” he said.

Precision agriculture helps farmers save money by using less water and fertilizer and releasing fewer pesticides into the environment. It harnesses real-time data to maximize their yields.

Practically speaking for Lee Nunn, that means having a GPS that guides the steering of his tractor with sub-inch accuracy, and the equipment it pulls has sensors that sends an array of data up to the cloud and into the palm of his hand.

Source: GPB | NPR. Read the full story here
Photo: Lee Nunn says he uses a lot of precision agriculture on his Georgia farm to save resources. Credit Stephen Fowler/Georgia Public Broadcasting

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