The concept and implementation of precision farming and rice integrated crop management systems for sustainable production in the twenty-first century.

The concept and implementation of precision farming and rice integrated crop management systems for sustainable production in the twenty-first century.

Agricultural production systems, including rice systems, have been very successful in increasing productivity and efficiency, thanks to genetic improvement, agrochemical practices, irrigation and farm machinery.  However, the world population continues to grow steadily, while the resources for agricultural production diminish. Moreover, the economic pressure resulting from World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations and increasing environmental degradation are threatening sustainable production in the twenty-first century. There have, therefore, been considerable efforts to develop innovative approaches for sustainable crop production. In several countries in the developed world, the precision farming system (PFS) has emerged since the early 1990s in various forms, depending on the knowledge and technology available. PFS is implemented in combination with advanced information technology and full agricultural mechanization. Electronic information technology is used to collect, process and analyse multisource data for decision-making (Sonka, Bauer and Cherry, 1997). The declining prices of agricultural products in recent years, coupled with the increase in production costs, have favoured the application of PFS in many developed countries. The importance of precision agriculture in the near future is further attested by the interest shown by NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration). In many developing countries, however, there is no specific PFS programme – there is a shortage of capital, knowledge and technologies. Nevertheless, improved agricultural management is practised, exploiting available means and resources to increase agricultural productivity and production. In rice production systems, for example, farmers in developing countries use their own experience as well as recommendations from research and extension services to undertake activities in seed selection, land preparation, crop management, irrigation and harvest. The recently developed rice integrated crop management
systems, which may be adapted to the social and economic conditions, are promising for effective input use, increased productivity and improved farm profits.

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