Precision Agriculture

Precision agriculture is an evolving field of agricultural science and technology. Initially based on observing, measuring and responding to inter and intra-field variability in crops, the field is expanding to cover all data and statistically driven approaches to efficiency in agriculture.  It combines application of decision support and modelling science with agronomics and, increasingly, applied information technology. 

Key technologies involved include are GPS, remote sensing, machine to machine communications, robotics and cloud data base systems that enable farmers to share data with service providers (eg agronomists, certifiers) and partners in the value chain (eg food processes and distributors). 

Aerial photograph of centre-pivot-irrigated field and 'precision agriculture' fuel consumption map
A fuel map of the same field with 5 different factors identified affecting fuel consumption. The factors are: (1) contour banks, (2) slope, (3) weight of the speader, (4) soil type or steepness and (5) compaction from CP irrigator
University of Southern Queensland & NCEA

Data automatically collected by farm machinery can be used in multiple ways, for example, to correlate water, fertiliser, agrichemical and fuel usage with yield.  The figure above shows a novel application of precision agriculture to achieving increased fuel efficiency in harvesting equipment being pioneered at the University of Queensland.