From Agronomists of the
Potash & Phosphate Institute
655 Engineering Drive, Suite 110
Norcross, Georgia 30092-2837
Phone (770) 447-0335

Winter 1996, No. 4


The new tools of site-specific precision farming systems provide some excellent visual aids that may be valuable in working with absentee landlords and others involved in making decisions on crop and soil management. Some people do not relate well with tables of numbers, but the graphic images produced from geographic information can enhance the message.

Yield maps integrate all of the physical resources, biological factors, climate, and management into one illustration. They help show the variability of productivity of different parts of the field. The farmer can use the maps to discuss various sources of variability with the landlord and/or other advisers.

The real power of GIS comes when other data bases can be related to the yield map. Maps of soil test levels can help explain a nutrient problem...such as liming or phosphorus and potassium buildup needs. Matched with the yield maps, these nutrient maps also provide the basis for variable-rate application. Many non-farmer landowners appreciate the more scientific approach to nutrient management, and in some cases the maps can be used to help convince the landowner to invest in the buildup fertilizer as a capital investment.

Other data bases may help show the landlord the need to invest in improving the drainage system on the farm. Linking yield maps with soil survey and topographic maps can provide the basis for this decision.

In other cases, GIS maps and data bases can be used to document and graphically present results of management practice changes and help convince the landlord that the farmer is using good practices. Some farmers are developing a portfolio of maps and data and interpretations that they can use to help sell themselves to prospective landlords when they try to compete for rental land. Presenting a well-documented graphical management plan can be an excellent selling tool.

So besides being a good management practice, site-specific management systems can be a good marketing tool...for the farmer's skills as a manager. They may provide the extra competitive edge and can help build better working relationships with the landowner.

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