Agricultural technologies are evolving, and producers are evolving alongside. The days of horse and buggy are a thing of the past as farmers seek to be more productive and sustainable on fewer acres.
The Alabama Cooperative Extension System recognizes the need to grow and is working with industry partners to conduct workshops to educate farmers. Extension professionals will host the first precision agriculture workshop of 2018, Jan. 18 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens.
Dr. Brenda Ortiz, an Alabama Extension precision agriculture specialist, said she is optimistic the move to Birmingham will allow more farmers to participate.
“We are hopeful that a more central workshop location will help us draw farmers from all over the state,” she said. “We have several notable speakers who will help our Alabama farmers take the next step toward full implementation of precision agriculture practices.”
The workshop will highlight five areas of precision ag:
• Precision liquid applications (fertilizer and herbicide)
• Precision planting (precise planting depth, seed spacing, on-the-go seed rate changes, multi hybrid planting)
• Unmanned aerial vehicles in agriculture
• Precision ag data management
New technologies are daunting in any field, but implementation on the farm may mean the difference in ending the season in the ‘black’ or in the ‘red.’
“There are many farming practices that can be improved,” Ortiz said. “The technology is there and farmers are learning to use it. We want to help them use available technology to benefit their operation and moreover, their bottom line.”
Ortiz said many farmers also have difficulty converting the data they collect into applicable information. Trey Colley, from The Ohio State University, will talk data management strategies during the morning session. Additionally, there will be afternoon demonstrations on the practical use of collected data.
Other speakers include Phillip Williams of Clemson University, Dr. Ignacio Ciampitti of Kansas State University and Dr. Wesley Porter of the University of Georgia as well as Dr. Jinha Jung Group of Texas A&M.
Williams will discuss variable rate nitrogen in cotton, while Ciampitti and Porter will discuss different aspects of precision planting implementation. Group will discuss unmanned aerial vehicles and their on-farm use.
The afternoon sessions will allow time for producers to interact with companies, as well as providing some options for additional farm management tools.
Dr. Steve Thomson, a national program leader with the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, will also present. Ortiz said Thomson’s extensive research and experience in the agricultural sector gives him an especially relevant vision of the future of precision agriculture.
“Dr. Thomson will provide excellent insight about the future of agriculture in the United States, as well as the future of the implementation of precision practices on the farm,” Ortiz said.