Our goal here is to present some basic Precision Ag concepts. We believe that Precision Ag can be
simple. We also believe that if you are comfortable with some very basic concepts, you can become an
effective user of Precision Ag equipment and software. Even if you are not interested in becoming a
hands‐on user of Precision Ag, you certainly can become an informed consumer of Precision Ag services.
A Short Definition of Precision Ag
Precision Ag is (1) an application of new technologies to (2) agricultural production challenges that (3)
result from field variability.
(1) New Technologies
The tools of precision Ag come from the integration of Global Positioning (GPS), Geo‐processing (GIS),
certain sensor technologies and machine control systems. These really are not new or unusual
technologies. You meet up with them almost everywhere. They are not necessarily ‘agricultural
technologies’. They were not developed by the ag equipment companies, the ag chemical industry or at
a USDA lab. Some of the technologies in Precision Ag involve complex systems. For example, GPS really
is rocket science. You only need to accept that complex systems often do very simple things.
(2) Agricultural Production Challenges
While growers give serious consideration to good stewardship (of the environment) and personal
satisfaction (in a way of life), we believe that the ultimate production challenge is profitability.
Here’s the question: At the most basic level, doesn’t profitability mean growing more and spending less
doing it? Much of Precision Ag is directed toward managing inputs. This does not necessarily mean
reducing inputs across the board. It means directing inputs toward areas of greatest opportunity.
Precision Ag is about optimization as a contributor to profitability.
(3) Field Variability
Most growers believe that variations in soil type, soil fertility, topography and numerous other factors
affect the production potential of different areas within a single field. Precision Ag is simply proposing
that you manage your fields from a standpoint that you have always accepted. You have probably heard
the old saw: "If you can measure it, you can manage it." A lot of Precision Ag is about the mapping and
measurement of "within field variability" in order to make sound "within field production decisions".
Now that we have a basic definition, let’s look at some of the key concepts behind this "integration of