Precision farming study planned

Cotton Incorporated is sponsoring a study to be conducted in six Southern states to help determine the status of precision farming practices among cotton producers.

"Precision agriculture is a term used to describe the utilization of ultra-modern technology to improve the productivity and profitability of farming," says Bob Goodman, Auburn University Extension economist and one of those involved in conducting the study.

Farmers using precision agriculture are able to monitor conditions and use the right amount of fertilizers or other inputs to help make top yields without wasting money, notes Goodman.

"These farmers also may have equipment to tell which parts of their fields are more productive than others and to automatically map those areas needing attention," he says.

States listed States included in the study include Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, Georgia, Florida and North Carolina.

Cotton producers will receive a questionnaire early next year asking them to describe the various practices and technologies that they use, says Don Shurley, a University of Georgia Extension economist who also is involved in conducting the study.

"Farmers who already use precision agriculture practices will answer one set of questions while non-adopters will receive a different questionnaire," notes Shurley. "Farmers will be asked to describe their use of yield monitoring equipment, chemical application equipment, soil testing procedures and many other practices that hopefully help them to produce top yields at a low cost."

Growers also will be asked to outline their reasons for trying precision agriculture and how they learned about which precision ag tools are available, says Shurley.

"A similar study was conducted in Tennessee last year, and the results of that study are very interesting," he says. "More farmers were found to use precision agricultural technology than was previously thought by some, and, in many cases, they were using it not only for financial reasons but also to improve farm conservation efforts."

Researchers hope to discover how precision agriculture is helping those farmers who already use it, as well as how they might encourage other farmers to give it a try, says Goodman.

Detailed survey "While the survey is fairly detailed, it will take only a few minutes to complete, and the results might help farmers get through these tough times."

Tobacco commission is reaffirmed Georgia tobacco growers reaffirmed the Georgia Agricultural Commodity Commission for Tobacco by an overwhelming majority of 94 percent in a recent referendum.

Established in 1962, the Commission consists of five grower members selected from each of the state's five tobacco districts which cover 46 tobacco-producing counties. The Commission office is located in Tifton.

The Commission has funded research projects to assist growers in combating tomato spotted wilt virus, black shank and other diseases detrimental to Georgia's tobacco crop.