Jason Jenks serves as a precision ag specialist for Pro-Ag Farmers Cooperative in Minnesota. He recently began a blog to explain to consumers how precision ag is helping agriculturalists to produce more food efficiently. Click here to learn more. What is precision ag? Why is it important to know what it is and what it does? How does it affect the food we buy at the grocery store? What part does it play in our food security?Precision ag is the use of technology such as GPS-guided auto-steer, variable-rate fertilizer, variable-rate seeding, yield mapping, satellite imagery and topography to allow for closer, more site-specific management of factors affecting crop production.
Precision ag is going from a “one-recommendation-fits-all” approach to treating areas in a field differently according to what that area specifically needs.
Farmers use precision ag to increase their crop yields, profitability and to be good stewards of their land. To do this, farmers are using precision ag components to put the right amount of fertilizers and the right seed hybrids on the right spots of their fields to increase their yields.
Besides striving for increases in yield, farmers are constantly striving to produce the highest quality product at a reasonable cost. So what exactly does this mean to you, the consumer? The answer is ultimately higher quality food products at a reasonable price, all while being careful not to overapply and cause a loss of nutrients.
Another very important part of precision ag is how it affects food security. The definition of food security is the “sustained production and distribution of safe and nutritious food in quantities and quality in order for people to have healthy lives.”
Precision ag directly contributes to food security from a more consistent performance at the point of production.
Precision ag is just beginning to impact the “safe and nutritious food” part of the definition. This part requires the ability to track food from the field to the consumer. One way this is starting to be used is using RFID (radio frequency identification) tags in produce that allows the tracking from production to your table. Using this technology to track from the point of production allows us to catch any issues that might happen anywhere in the chain from production to consumer.
While these few topics we have discussed are just a fraction of the uses for technology in agriculture, the effects can be very beneficial to both the producer and the consumer.
Precision ag allows producers to save money, maximize production and contribute vast amounts of safe food to the world to feed the ever-increasing population. PD
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