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Precision Agriculture

Precision Agriculture

Technology on the farm has come a long way in the last generation. Many farmers today may still recall times on the farm where work animals like a mule were the primary heavy-duty equipment used in a field. To say we have progressed beyond this time is a huge understatement! Equipment on the farm may include self-driving combine harvesters, 90 ft.-boom-width liquid applicator vehicles, airplane applicators, and even real-time global navigation satellite systems for data correction on as-it-happens activities.

All of these on-the-farm tools are paired with advancements in applied products like crop seeds, which have been developed to be more suited to specific climates, soil types, and harvest timeframes through genetic research. It is pretty amazing to see all the different ways the pieces of the farm management puzzle can come together in site-specific decision-making.

At the Colonial SWCD, we have worked with growers in the lower peninsula and beyond on precision population prescriptions, zone and grid fertilizer recommendations, and other precision management techniques for over 15 years. In 2021 we concluded a three-year project with the Virginia Environmental Endowment’s James River Water Quality Improvement Program, where our staff assisted farmers in nine localities in the lower James River watershed with new techniques that can improve fertilizer use efficiency and ideally reduce the load of regulated nutrients entering waterways. Please find more about this work here.


For Farmers

If you have questions about how to integrate new management techniques, cost-share reimbursement opportunities for precision agriculture BMPs, or general inquiries into what’s what, please reach out to Colonial SWCD staff here.

For Students, Teachers, and Other Interested Parties

Precision agriculture is a growing movement, and there are always new and evolving ways to get the job done. We recommend that you explore the following links to learn more:

International Society of Precision Agriculture

The Fertilizer Institute

Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Statement on Emerging Technologies (2007)

Virginia Tech’s SmartFarm Innovation Network

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