Crop management: How small do we go?

Jul 08, 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: Budget cuts are harder if people know the benefits of research

Related Stories

Festo has BionicANTs communicating by the rules for tasks

Mar 27, 2015

Germany-based automation company Festo, focused on technologies for tasks, turns to nature for inspiration, trying to take the cues from how nature performs tasks so efficiently. "Whether it's energy efficiency, ...

Measurement of components in 3D under water

Apr 01, 2015

Conveying systems for oil and gas, operated in the sea have many important underwater components. The maintenance of such components is elaborate and expensive, as measuring them is complicated. Fraunhofer ...

ESA recovers IXV spaceplane

Mar 30, 2015

ESA's recovered IXV spaceplane arrived at the Port of Livorno in Italy yesterday and is set to be taken to Turin for final analysis.

Recommended for you

Heinz Awards honors six for solving critical human issues

Apr 23, 2015

A Massachusetts Institute of Technology researcher who has developed artificial human "microlivers" that can safely test the toxicity of drugs without endangering lives is one of six people chosen to receive Heinz Awards.

User comments : 0

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.