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Precision Management Systems for Conservation and Profitability

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  2007 ASAE Annual Meeting  071090.(doi:10.13031/2013.22909)
Authors:   Kenneth A Sudduth, Newell R Kitchen, E John Sadler, Robert J Kremer, Robert N Lerch
Keywords:   precision agriculture, site-specific management, cropping systems, spatial data

The uses of site-specific information (e.g., yield maps, soil sampling) can extend beyond variable-rate management of inputs to managing parts of a field in completely different ways (e.g., cropping system, conservation measures). In this paper, we discuss the development and initial evaluation of such a precision management system for a typical claypan-soil field in Missouri. For more than a decade (1991-2003), we intensively monitored crop, soil, and water quality information on this field, finding considerable spatial variation in crop yield and many other properties. We used maps of these properties to develop a crop management plan addressing site-specific problems. In 2004, we implemented the Precision Agriculture System (PAS) plan, using precision information to determine what production and conservation measures were needed, and where they should be placed. For example, shallow topsoil areas of the field were no longer planted to corn receiving soil-applied herbicides. Instead, these areas were planted to wheat and a cover crop, usually without herbicides. The goal of PAS is to improve profitability and protect soil and water resources through management of sub-field areas based on multiple spatial datasets. Preliminary results after three years of implementation show progress toward this goal, such as a reduction in soil loss from erosive sideslope areas. Although definitive results will depend on more years of data collection, it appears that the PAS approach may help producers to improve both profitability and conservation.

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