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Abstract

In the United States average adoption rates have increased for precision agriculture (PA) technologies used to produce many field crops. PA makes use of information collected on the farm to target site-specific, intensive management of farm production. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Resource Management Survey (ARMS) allows close examination of regional patterns of adoption, and how crop types and region interact with differences in farm sizes and soil productivity variability to influence adoption rates. The most common PA technologies are guidance systems that use global positioning systems (GPS) to steer tractors and other farm equipment. Remote sensing, soil mapping, and yield mapping all use GPS to geolocate data and create maps used to guide farm management decision. Variable rate input-application technologies (VRT) make use of remote images, soil tests, yields maps and other sources of information to apply different, more precise levels of inputs in farmer’s fields. GPS guided VRT fertilization was introduced in the early 1990s and increased slowly over the last three decades. The ARMS data for winter wheat (2017), corn (2016) and soybeans (2012) showed use of VRT seeding and pesticide applications growing rapidly. The data indicated that PA technology was being used on farms across all sizes and all regions, with adoption occurring more rapidly on larger farms. VRT use on soybean farms was highest in areas of higher soil variability.

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