Precision agriculture has the capability to reduce excess nitrogen (N) from crop production being released into the environment. This research evaluates the profitability and N use efficiency of utilizing real-time optical sensing with variable-rate technologies (VRT) to manage spatial variability in cotton production in the Mississippi River Basin states (Tennessee, Louisiana, and Mississippi). Two forms of VRT and the existing farmer technology (control) were used to determine N fertilizer rates applied to sub-plots within the fields. Cotton yields generated and N fertilizer rates determined by the sensor technology are used to determine the changes in yields and N rates due to VRT, thus N use efficiency and net returns. Results indicate no differences in control and VRT yields. Although N savings using VRT were identified in four fields, they were not enough to produce significant differences in net returns between VRT and control.


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