Site-specific management: the application of information technology to crop production

Site-specific management: the application of information technology to crop production

Site-specific management (SSM; also called, precision agriculture) is the management of agricultural crops at a spatial scale smaller than that of the whole field. Widespread farmer adoption of SSM practices is contingent on its economic advantage. Three criteria that must be satisfied in order for SSM to be justified are, (1) that significant within-field spatial variability exists in factors that influence crop yield, (2) that, causes of this variability can be identified and measured, and (3) that, the information from these measurements can be used to modify crop management practices to increase profit or decrease environmental impact.

The objective of this paper is to review the state of SSM at the turn of the millennium and to offer some speculation as to its future course.  The review is organised around the essential components of SSM listed above, i.e. measuring spatial variability, analysing the data obtained from these measurements, using information gained from this analysis to effect changes in management practices, and determining whether the resulting benefits are worth the costs. The discussion section considers some potential effects of large-scale adoption of SSM, should this adoption occur.

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