Precision agriculture research and demonstration project: part 1

Sign posted by Nashua, IowaThe Nashua precision agriculture project was developed to provide northeast Iowa area producers and agricultural service providers with practical information and guidance on adopting and implementing precision agriculture technology. Field and seasonal crop variability will be monitored and assessed over the long term, so management decisions can be based on precision agriculture technology, improved profitability, and environmental protection.

The three-year project is a joint venture by the Northeast Iowa Research and Demonstration Farm, Iowa State University and Hawkeye Community College. Funding for equipment purchases, field work, and integrated crop management (ICM) scouting has been provided by the Northeast Iowa Research and Demonstration Farm, Iowa State University Extension, and the Iowa Experiment Station.

A unique focus

The project site is located on a leased 40-acre plot, directly adjacent and west of the research and demonstration farm. The plot was formerly enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP).

Initial investments of equipment for research, demonstration, and education include a yield monitor, variable-rate controller, global positioning system (GPS) unit, hard body computer, software, and portable GPS unit for integrated crop management scouting.

The unique and exciting emphasis of this project is the development and demonstration of the integration of real-time ICM concepts and precision agriculture technologies. For example, we developed and field tested a new method of ICM field scouting by using portable GPS equipment to map crop, soil, and pest variability. Weekly data inputs were captured in a hard body computer with drop-down menus, and then transferred to a remote site for data assessment and recommendations. Colored maps were then available for visual representation of emerging crop, soil, and pest conditions. Weekly field scouting and management observations were provided to the ICM scout for continued monitoring.

This new method may have immediate application for farmers, crop consultants, and agricultural service providers who want to adopt practical applications of precision agriculture technologies for increased profit and environmental stewardship.

This article originally appeared on page 6 of the IC-480 (4c Precision Ag Edition) -- April 9, 1998 issue.

Updated 04/08/1998 - 1:00pm