Precision Production Technologies Help Increase Efficiencies for Farmers, Study Says

Bloomberg writer Mario Parker reported yesterday that, “U.S. corn farmers are proving themselves to be quick learners.

Growers producing the grain on big plots — those bigger than 2,900 acres — are using precision-agriculture methods at twice the rate of the nation’s farmers overall, a U.S. Department of Agriculture study released Tuesday said. Their savvy could be paying off. The agency estimates that the new technologies are helping to increase profits.”

The Bloomberg article noted that, “A three-year slump in grain prices has eroded agriculture incomes, sparking more farmers to adopt the so-called precision-agriculture methods to help increase efficiency. Companies including Deere & Co. are joining the race to create new products for the market that Goldman Sachs Group Inc. estimates could be worth $240 billion by 2050. The technologies encompass everything from GPS-guided tractors that reduces human error and fatigue to granular data analysis that enhances planting decisions.

“‘Precision-agriculture technologies require a significant investment of capital and time, but may offer cost savings and higher yields through more precise management of inputs,’ David Schimmelpfennig, an agricultural economist at the USDA in Washington, wrote in the report.”

The Bloomberg article added that, “Average size U.S. corn farms using GPS mapping see about a 3 percent increase in operating profit and the gain for net returns is almost 2 percent, the agency said. Guidance systems boost operating profit by 2.5 percent, and variable-rate technology raises it by about 1.1 percent, the study showed. The USDA said it used data over a 17-year span, starting in 1996, for its study.”

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