James Mintert1, Nathanael Thompson2, David Widmar3, Courtney Bir4
1Director of the Center for Commercial Agriculture and Professor of Agricultural Economics at Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, USA.
2Assistant Professor of Agricultural Economics at Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, USA.
3Economist with Agricultural Economic Insights, LLC, West Lafayette, Indiana, USA.
4Ph.D. candidate in Agricultural Economics at Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana.
Corresponding Author: James Mintert, firstname.lastname@example.org
The objective of this research was to obtain updated estimates of the usage of precision agriculture technology on commercial scale U.S. crop farms. Over 800 U.S. farms with corn, soybean, wheat or cotton enterprises were surveyed to learn of their usage of the following key precision agriculture technologies; yield monitoring, guidance and auto-steer for tractors and harvesters, precision soil sampling and variable rate fertilizer application, variable rate seeding, use of drones or unmanned aerial vehicles (UMAV) and satellite/aerial imagery. Results indicated that these key precision agriculture technologies were more widely used among commercial scale U.S. crop farms than reported previously, ranging as high as 93 and 91 percent for auto-steer and yield monitors, respectively. Variable rate fertilizer application and variable rate seeding were being used by 73 and 60 percent of farms, respectively. Only drones/UMAV were being used by less than half of the farms surveyed. Sixty-nine percent of survey respondents reported that the biggest barrier to adoption of precision agriculture technology was cost suggesting that a majority of U.S. crop producers still find precision agriculture technology’s value proposition at least somewhat problematic.
James Mintert is Director of the Center for Commercial Agriculture and Professor of Agricultural Economics at Purdue University.