For variable-rate input management, says Boyers, 424 farmers indicated they had used the practice. Lime was the No. 1 input that had been applied by variable rate, followed by potassium, phosphorus and nitrogen. Again, these are fairly large farms using these technologies, he adds.

Map-based technology was primarily used to make input decisions, being used more than the sensor-based technology.

“We asked producers who had adopted precision ag technologies what were their reasons for adopting these practices? We gave them a few options, including profit, environmental benefits, and being on the forefront of technology adoption. We asked them to rank these on a scale of importance from 1 to 5. Profit, with an average rank of 4.3 percent, was the No. 1 reason among the surveyed growers for adopting precision farming.

“It was followed by environmental benefits and being on the forefront of technology. According to these responses, producers think that these technologies are profitable and they perceive them as increasing their profitability.”

When asked to list the major barriers to adoption, the No. 1 barrier, in a landslide, says Boyer, was that it’s too expensive – for adopters and non-adopters. Non-profitability wasn’t a big factor or barrier to adopting these technologies, he says. They perceive them to be profitable, but they also think they’re expensive.

“The second reason for not adopting is that benefits are uncertain. We have all of this information about our field, and compiling it and using it to make input decisions is not an easy task, even for people with a lot of background and experience.”

A lot of questions remain concerning the benefits of these technologies, says Boyer, such as how does a producer quantify the benefits?

“Moving forward with this research, we’ll look at the environmental benefits of precision farming, and how these practices affect lint quality. Hopefully, this will help producers make wise decisions on adopting these technologies.”