Putting Farmers in Driver's Seat of Precision Ag Technology

December 8, 2006

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Precision agriculture technology is becoming an integral part of crop production, and Ohio State University Extension is offering, for the first time, a workshop to teach farmers how to choose the best equipment, how to confidently use the technology, and how to best use the data in management decision-making.

"Precision Agriculture Data Management, Analysis, and Decision Making" is a three-part series that will be held at two locations: the OSU Knox County Extension office in Mt. Vernon, Ohio, Jan. 16, 23, and 30, and at the OSU Fulton County Extension office in Wauseon, Ohio, Feb. 20, 27 and March 6. Registration is $80 and limited to 19 participants for either location. The program is hosted by the Ohio Geospatial Extension Program, OSU Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources, and the Ohio State University Precision Agriculture Team.

"The workshop is focused on making use of best management technologies for use in precision agriculture. It gets down to the nitty gritty of crop production decision-making. It's about more than just technology. It's about micro-managing inputs for farming," said Nathan Watermeier, an OSU Extension program director and geospatial specialist. "The program is a comprehensive hands-on computer workshop designed to put the grower in the driver's seat in working with real farm data, agriculture issues, and farm production."

The workshop is geared toward producers, consultants and ag cooperatives with little to no experience in using precision agriculture technology tools, such as GPS (Global Positioning Systems), GIS (Geographic Information Systems), yield monitors, soil sampling, variable rate technology and sensor information. The benefits of attending the workshop include:

• Feeling confident in selecting the best precision agriculture software.

• Learning the steps to transfer data from equipment to the computer.

• Managing data more effectively.

• How to make use of various data sets for map creation, soil sampling and fertility recommendations.

• Learning techniques for field record keeping.

• Making effective use of on-farm research and seeing the cause-and-effect relationship between farm practices and precision agriculture technology.

• Becoming better environmental stewards, as the information can be used to support conservation programs.

The workshop will be held from 8:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. each of the three days. Topics covered the first day include: data management, software selection and management, importing data and making maps, and displaying and interpreting yield data. Topics covered the second day include: working with yield data, soil sampling and analysis, making fertility recommendations, working with other data sources, and field management zones. Topics covered during the final day include: managing multiple years of data, profit mapping, environmental planning, variable rate application maps, GPS selection for mapping, navigation, auto-guidance, and on-farm research techniques.

For more information on "Precision Agriculture Data Management, Analysis, and Decision Making Workshop," log on to http://precisionag.osu.edu/decisions, or contact Nathan Watermeier at (614) 688-3442 or e-mail watermeier.2@osu.edu.

The goal of the Ohio Precision Agriculture Team is to coordinate and enhance research, teaching and education outreach efforts on behalf of the Ohio State University in the area of precision agriculture. Research and outreach efforts have currently impacted several commodity areas in Ohio including agronomic crops, vegetable and fruit production, turfgrass, forages, organic, and sustainable enterprises.

Author(s): 
Candace Pollock
Source(s): 
Nathan Watermeier