Crop management: How small do we go?

July 8, 2008

The use of on-the-go crop and soil sensors has greatly increased the precision with which farmers can manage their crops. Recently released research in Agronomy Journal questions whether more precise management is necessarily more efficient. They discovered that the law of diminishing returns applies to precision agriculture, calculating how large of an application area is optimal for precision management techniques. According to the authors, this change could present significant cost savings for farmers.

In their article, "Spatial Analysis of Early Wheat Canopy Normalized Difference Vegetative Index: Determining Appropriate Observation Scale," E.M. Pena-Yewtukhiw, West Virginia University; G.J. Schwab and J.H. Grove, University of Kentucky; L.W. Murdock, University of Kentucky and the West Kentucky Research and Education Center; and J.T. Johnson, Clark County Cooperative Extension Center, examine how precise sensor and application grids should be for optimal efficiency.

To determine the ideal amount of data needed for precision management, the researchers calculated the optimal combination of physical sensor density (number of sensors along the applicator apparatus) and sensor output density (sensor readings per unit distance along the travel path).

The researchers found that sensor grid size can be increased from the current smallest size of .5 square meters to 5.1 square meters with no significant impact on the overall mapping of a crop's canopy or field variation. The larger grid requires fewer sensors and makes fertilizer application easier and more cost efficient. This tenfold increase in grid size could have significant cost savings for farmers using precision management techniques.

Source: American Society of Agronomy

Explore further: Researcher develops unmanned aerial vehicles that operate autonomously in constrained spaces and unmapped environments

Related Stories

How do ants identify different members of their society?

August 13, 2015

Ants, which are eusocial insects, have intrigued scientists for long as a model for cooperation inside a colony where they nurse the young, gather food and defend against intruders. Most recently, ants have been shown to ...

Space probes: sterile launch into outer space

August 3, 2015

Components used on a space mission must be cleaned meticulously. Fraunhofer researchers designed a cleanroom for the ESA (European Space Agency) in which the most infinitesimal contaminants can be removed. These experts, ...

Software turns smartphones into tools for medical research

July 27, 2015

Jody Kearns doesn't like to spend time obsessing about her Parkinson's disease. The 56-year-old dietitian from Syracuse, New York, had to give up bicycling because the disorder affected her balance. But she still works, drives ...

Recommended for you

Just how good (or bad) is the fossil record of dinosaurs?

August 28, 2015

Everyone is excited by discoveries of new dinosaurs – or indeed any new fossil species. But a key question for palaeontologists is 'just how good is the fossil record?' Do we know fifty per cent of the species of dinosaurs ...

Fractals patterns in a drummer's music

August 28, 2015

Fractal patterns are profoundly human – at least in music. This is one of the findings of a team headed by researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization in Göttingen and Harvard University ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.