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peer-reviewed research article

Precision agriculture can increase profits and limit environmental impacts


Richard E. Plant, Departments of Agronomy and Range Science and Biological and Agricultural Engineering
G. Stuart Pettygrove, Department of Land, Air and Water Resources
William R. Reinert, Precision Farming Enterprises

publication information

California Agriculture 54(4):66-71. DOI: 10.3733/ca.v054n04p66. July-August 2000.


Precision agriculture is the management of an agricultural crop at a spatial scale smaller than the individual field. Mineral nutrient levels, soil texture and chemistry, moisture content and pest patterns may all vary widely from location to location. At its most fundamental level, precision agriculture is based on information management, and is made possible by a confluence of new technological developments. It provides the opportunity to increase profitability and reduce the environmental effects of farming by more closely matching the application of inputs such as pesticides and fertilizers with actual conditions in specific parts of the field. We demonstrated precision agriculture technology in a wheat field in Winters, and the farmer changed several of his management practices as a result. Adoption of this technology is limited in California at the beginning of the 21st century, but is likely to increase as growers come to appreciate the economic benefits it can provide.


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