What is in this article?:
- A precision farming survey conducted in 2013 shows an increasing number of farmers are adopting technologies.
- Seventy-three percent of responding growers have adopted some component of precision farming.
- GPS guidance systems were used by 66 percent of those who participated in the survey.
PRECISION FARMING PRACTICES such as variable-rate management of fertilizer inputs are increasing in the South, according to a recent Cotton Inc. survey conducted across 14 states.
Good response rate
In February of 2013, a total of 1,806 producers returned valid responses for a response rate of 13.72 percent, says Boyer. States included in the survey were Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.
“That’s a good response rate for a survey such as this, and it was a good sample. Overall, 73 percent of all farmers responding have adopted some component, with the components being GPS guidance, variable-rate input management, information-gathering technologies, and automatic sensor controls for planters and spreaders.
“Seventy-three percent is pretty high, relative to past surveys. What we don’t know is whether or not the people who have this information are using it to make input decisions – we can’t really follow up on that too well. One reason we see an increase in adoption from the 2009 survey is that we included automatic section control, and quite a few people have adopted that practice.” According to the survey, Alabama had the lowest adoption rate at 62 percent and Missouri had the highest at 92 percent.
Of the 1,811 people who responded to the survey, 27 percent indicated that they had automatic section control for their sprayer, and 13 percent had automatic section control for their planter. Sixty-six percent were using GPS guidance systems, 25 percent were using variable-rate management input, and 41 percent were using information gathering technologies.
“In some cases, they could have adopted these in a bundle, using more than one of these,” says Boyer. “As far as information gathering technologies, grid soil sampling was the most used. The second most used was yield monitors with GPS. If you look at the average number of acres per farm, even for the smallest average number of acres – 1,154 acres – people who are using these technologies have larger farms than the census average.”