The National Research Council (NRC) recently released a report entitled "Precision Agriculture in the 21st Century: Geospatial and Information Technologies in Crop Management" in response to a request by the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Energy's Idaho National Engineering Laboratory.
The report examines possibilities for future uses and benefits of precision agriculture, defined as "a management strategy that uses information technologies to bring data from multiple sources to bear on decisions associated with crop production." Precision agriculture incorporates the use of technologies not previously associated with agriculture, such as satellites, sensors, and geographic information systems. It has the potential to be "both more economically and environmentally efficient", but it is relatively unproven. More public and private sector research must be conducted to iron out issues such as intellectual property rights, data ownership, and data privacy rights as well as determining the effects of precision agriculture on farm structure and rural employment. To accomplish these goals, research focus must shift from laboratory experiments to studying results on the farm with funding provided by the federal government and land-grant universities.
The report was prepared by the Committee on Assessing Crop Yield: Site-Specific Farming, Information Systems, and Research Opportunities, which was chaired by Steven Sonka from the University of Illinois. For information on additional NRC boards and publications, visits the NRC Board on Agriculture web site. Additional information and order forms are available from the National Academy Press at 800-624-6242 and on the NAP web site.
Contributed by Kasey Shewey, AGI Government Affairs.
Last updated September 15, 1997