Appropriate adoption of new technology is necessary for crop producers to remain competitive in today's aggressive global market place. Recent developments in positioning, application, monitoring, and information technologies have created considerable interest in site-specific management systems as a means of increasing efficiency and profitability while reducing the potential for negative environmental impacts. Site-specific management used in this context refers to varying inputs and practices within a field as conditions within the field vary.
Many sectors of agricultural, both private and public, are interested in this technology and have common questions. It seems prudent to conduct coordinated multi-regional research that involves a cross-section of interest groups. Such an approach is both efficient and credible. It's efficient because needless duplication across state lines can be avoided and critical experimental protocols can be standardized to allow meaningful summarization of the results. Its credible because the cooperation of farmers, university scientist, and private industry assures that good science is done, the latest in technology is utilized, the outcome is practical.
The proposed project is the South Dakota component of regional project, that includes Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana that is investigating the applicability of utilizing site specific farming techniques to improve agronomic profitability. The proposed project utilizes private and public collaboration to develop solutions to site specific problems.
A portion of the research proposed will be conducted to allow for the creation of a joint data base for the purpose of evaluating general effects of climate and soils on site specific management systems. Other aspects of the project will focus on using site-specific technologies to solve production problems unique to South Dakota. South Dakota seems ideally suited for evaluation of this new technology because:
- South Dakota variable climate, heterogeneity of soil in a single field, and variable landscapes seems ideal for technology that matches management with soil properties.
- Field variations of organic matter and soil pH ranging from quite acid to highly alkaline may impact herbicide management programs used in corn/soybean rotations in South Dakota.
- Grid soil sampling often reveals extreme variability in soil test NO3-N, P, K and Zn levels.
- Results from farmer operated yield monitors are showing significant variability in yield. However, the changing pattern of yield maps from one year to the next and uncertainty about the factors causing yield to vary often makes practical use of yield data challenging.
- Many South Dakota farmers and agribusiness's are considering investments in precision farming technologies.