Hatch Project

Increasing efficiency is a never-ending goal in agriculture. The mainstream of precision agriculture (PA) research is the development of new technology that addresses site-specific management and automatic guidance. PA was the primary factor of the growth of US agriculture in the late 20th Century. Fuglie et al. (2007) estimated that farmers’ production in the year 2000 was 12 times as much per hour worked on average compared to the 50’s. Though the use of agricultural inputs and machineries was one of the reasons, the development of new technology also provided an increase in yield. Precision Agriculture will play an important role in providing food to a rapidly increasing world population. Food production experts and scientists around the world concur that an increase of at least 50% is needed in food production in the next two decades to feed the increasing world population (Macfarquhar, 2009).There is an increase of the number of hungry people in 2009 which amounts to 1.02 billion based on the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO, 2009). Based on the estimated 50% increase required to address the future food demand, a projected increase of 2.5% in food production per year is required. This is a huge undertaking, as increasing food production requires increasing all farm inputs. Water, pesticides, and fertilizers are just some of the required inputs. With these requirements, problems with limited water resources will be the next thing that needs to be addressed by farmers. Another concern, especially here in the southeastern coastal plain region is the high degree of heterogeneity of the soil type where the amount of water in one area of a field does not reflect a good approximation of the whole field. Moreover, aside from food, there are other equally important competing demands that also make use of these required inputs, e.g., biofuels (which requires a substantial amount of land), and other factors that farmers need to address such issues as plant diseases, longer drought periods, lack of overall precipitation, weather, etc.

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