A close-up look at precision agriculture

In FERN’s latest story, Michael Behar takes a close look at precision agriculture — cutting-edge tools like drones,  satellite imagery and artificial intelligence that help farmers keep careful watch over their crops. In addition to improving yields, Behar shows how the technology also allows farmers to reduce water and chemical use. The story was produced in collaboration with EatingWell magazine.

“Because farmers equipped with precision ag know exactly where problems exist, they can also use less water and limit their application of pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and fertilizers to the plants that need them most, subsequently reducing their reliance on these chemicals,” Behar writes. “A recent USDA report estimates that this technology can reduce the application of pesticides and other chemicals by up to 80 percent, shrink water usage by between 20 percent and 50 percent and burn 40 percent less fuel. Precision ag also reduces crop losses by up to 80 percent, in part by locating weed-infested areas or diseased plants with 99 percent accuracy.”

The story explains the way drones, GPS satellites, software, robots,  weather forecasting and tablet apps are being used to help farmers achieve these goals. You can read the full story at FERN or at EatingWell.