Originally posted on Bluebird Network

By 2050, the United Nations predicts that the global population will reach 9.6 billion, substantially increasing food supply and demand. In 2019, the agriculture, food, and related sectors contributed $1.1 trillion to the national gross domestic product with $136 million being from American farms. Growth has risen steadily over the past decade, highlighting the immense pressure to keep pace. Precision agriculture technology provides the solution, allowing farmers to work efficiently, generate profits, and employ environmentally sustainable farming practices.  

One of the earliest uses of precision agriculture came in the 1980s when GPS became available to civilians. Farmers quickly adopted this new technology to improve planting, fertilization, and pesticide application. Helping farmers avoid missed areas of their field or apply pesticides and fertilizers more than once, GPS reduced costs and increased farming efficiency. GPS is also now widely used in “variable rate technology,” which allows farmers to fertilize areas of the same field at different rates so that the right nutrients maximize crop yields. By using fewer pesticides and fertilizers, there is less runoff into water sources preserving water quality and improving environmentally friendly practices. Plus, GPS allows farmers to operate machinery in inclement or low-visibility weather such as rain or fog. 

At the same time, robotic technologies are improving efficiencies on farms as well. Typically, agricultural robots are used to automate tasks that are slow and redundant such as harvesting crops, weed control, and packaging inventory. However, more sophisticated applications are being seen at dairy farms. Milking robots are gaining popularity with medium-sized family farms, used to milk cows and more efficiently leverage family labor instead of hiring staff.  

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