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13;10;9;9;9;9;9;Modern technology has13;10;dramatically changed the scene on the farm. Today, you will find tractors13;10;equipped with guidance and automation equipment allowing the farmer to focus on13;10;rows of monitors lining the cab. Real-time information is not only being13;10;streamed to the cab but also uploaded to the cloud to be accessed by those13;10;helping make critical on-farm decisions. Sensors in the soil measure soil13;10;moisture and electrical conductivity, while satellites and aircraft equipped13;10;with remote sensors measure crop health. Applied data, precision equipment, and13;10;data analytics are all precision tools farmers have today to help improve13;10;efficiencies and sustainability. 13;10;9;9;9;9;9;
13;10;9;9;9;9;9;Precision technologies can13;10;help farmers manage their crops with better accuracy, lower inputs, and higher13;10;profits, while reducing the negative impacts of farming on the environment,13;10;such as over use of fertilizers and pesticides. Essentially, these technologies13;10;help farmers to determine exactly when, where, and how much of a certain input13;10;is needed, and where it is not needed. The following technologies are13;10;components of precision farming. 13;10;9;9;9;9;9;
13;10;9;9;9;9;9;Precision positioning systems use global positioning (GPS) and13;10;navigation systems along with field maps generated from geographical13;10;information systems (GIS) and specialized equipment for improving the accuracy13;10;of many critical operations.13;10;9;9;9;9;9;
13;10;9;9;9;9;9;Remote sensing systems13;10;collect data from a distance that can be used to evaluate soil and crop health.13;10;Other types of sensors, such as soil moisture sensors, may be portable or13;10;permanently installed in the soil or the field. Many precision farmers utilize13;10;a combination of satellite imagery and smaller-scale data sensors, which can be13;10;mounted on moving machines, such as tractors, airplanes, or drones, to collect13;10;data. Software is used to analyze and display the data on field maps that can13;10;be viewed in real-time, within hours, or the following day, allowing for13;10;quicker reaction times to issues in the field. 13;10;9;9;9;9;9;
13;10;9;9;9;9;9;Measurements taken in the13;10;visible, near-infrared, thermal infrared, and microwave wavelengths of light13;10;can indicate when, and even why, crops are under stress. Imagery in the visible13;10;range can be used to estimate biomass (yields, plant population, germination13;10;percentage), to detect plant stress, and to identify weed infestations. Thermal13;10;infrared imagery is often used to detect plant stress. Multispectral imagery13;10;can provide more information than single-spectrum imagery. Multispectral data13;10;can be compiled into a vegetation index, which in general, describes the13;10;relative density and health of a crop. High resolution NDVI (normalized13;10;difference vegetation index) images of a field can show when the quality of the13;10;crop begins to decline, such as from nutrient deficiencies, water stress, or13;10;pest and disease issues. Software packages can use the vegetation indices along13;10;with other information, such as crop growth stage, soil moisture readings, or13;10;weather data, to compute exactly where an input (fertilizer, irrigation, or13;10;pesticides) is needed and how much, allowing you to make timely management13;10;decisions to preserve yield potential. These images can also correlate to yield13;10;at the end of the year and be used in addition to a yield map. 13;10;9;9;9;9;9;
13;10;9;9;9;9;9;Following are two examples of13;10;how vegetation indices can be used for management decisions. 13;10;9;9;9;9;9;
13;10;9;9;9;9;9;Advances in technology are13;10;enabling growers and agronomists to move away from satellite and manned13;10;aircraft imagery towards more accessible, flexible, and affordable13;10;alternatives. Small unmanned aerial systems (sUAS, or drones) are gaining in13;10;popularity as they allow farmers to access precision crop information faster13;10;than ever before at more affordable prices. Drones have the capability of13;10;swapping a wide variety of sensors for different needs and can deliver the data to the farmer faster without the scheduling and “tasking�? required for satellite usage or the fuel13;10;costs associated with aircrafts.13;10;9;9;9;9;9;
13;10;9;9;9;9;9;A properly calibrated yield13;10;monitor can provide powerful decision making data to farmers. This data can be13;10;used to create field-level management zones. These zones can be used to create13;10;field-specific fertility and seed recommendations. Using variable rate13;10;recommendations from the yield history helps tell the story of which areas of13;10;the field will be the most productive and can be managed to a higher level.13;10;Yield maps also act like a year-end report card helping to evaluate which13;10;management practices were successful for that year.13;10;9;9;9;9;9;
13;10;9;9;9;9;9;Variable rate technologies13;10;(VRT) utilize GPS and GIS, data from remote sensors, and the capabilities of13;10;the precision positioning equipment to vary inputs, such as seed, irrigation,13;10;fertilizer, and pesticides, according to where and at what rate they are needed13;10;in the field. These systems utilize prescriptions coded into the software that13;10;allow for different management zones, as well as the ability to shut off inputs13;10;in non-crop areas such as waterways and buffer strips. These technologies13;10;improve accuracy and better control input costs.13;10;9;9;9;9;9;