It works by data gathered by tractors and other machinery being fed into computers. “Algorithms and human experts crunch all the data and can zap advice directly to farmers and their machines,” reads a Wall Street Journal article by Jacob Bunge. “Supporters say the push could be as important as the development of mechanized tractors in the first half of the 20th century and the rise of genetically modified seeds in the 1990s.”

Those who have tested prescriptive planting say they’ve seen yields climb by five to 10 bushels an acre. Monsanto, one of the companies developing the technology, estimates that it could "increase world-wide crop production by about $20 billion a year, or about one-third the value of last year's U.S. corn crop.”

While many farmers are excited about the technique, some worry their data will be sold to commodities traders or wind up in the hands of other farmers. The companies, however, say that won't happen.

Kip Tom, a 58-year-old Leesburg, Indiana farmer, has been testing Monsanto’s system for the past three years, he told the newspaper, saying he wouldn’t plant without it.

“But,” the article notes, “he keeps a close eye on how data flow from and to his farm machinery.”  FG


—Summarized by FG staff from cited source