Apr 20

Precision Farming for the Waterways’ Win

What does GPS positioning have to do with farming? Plenty, when it comes to reducing water and fertilizer use—listen up:

Healthy soil management? Yes please. (Paige Buck/ USDA-NRCS IL)

Healthier farm soil makes for healthier waterways. (Paige Buck/USDA-NRCS IL)

The Midwest is renowned for both its bountiful farms and its access to the Great Lakes. But the two are sometimes at odds, considering that excess fertilizer can run off fields and pollute water resources.

So some farmers now practice what’s called precision agriculture. Using modern technology such as remote sensing, they can measure crop stress and fertility in their fields—and then treat just the problem sites.

University of Minnesota professor David Mulla, PhD, says he’s seeing results as the technology catches on with farmers.

“Our fertilizer use has not increased for the last ten or fifteen years in the Midwestern U.S.—even though the crop yields have gone up about 10 percent,” he explains.

That’s a major upgrade for efficiency and water quality.

David Mulla, aka soil and water resources genius at UMN. (D. Mulla)

David Mulla, aka soil and water resources genius at UMN. (D. Mulla)

Get schooled:

The fine print:

This segment was produced in partnership with Cornell’s Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future.



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