⋅ By Bruno P. Lena, Brenda V. Ortiz, Luan Pereira de Oliveira, Guilherme Morata, Mailson Freire de Oliveira, Franciele Morlin, Alvaro Sanz-Saez, Pierce McClendon, Megan Thurmond, and Yin Bao ⋅
Efforts to put digital technologies and site-specific crop management practices in the hands of the farming community (2020 & 2021 report)
The Alabama Precision Agriculture Extension team is committed to working with stakeholders on digital agriculture applications to increase farm profitability, efficiency, and environmental sustainability.
Adopting technologies such as sensors and controls on farm machinery, remote sensing, or big-data–driven decision support systems to aid site-specific crop management has often been slow. Some reasons could be attributed to farmers’ perception of their effectiveness, usability, comparative advantages, compatibility, and complexity. Easy-to-use technologies such as GPS-autosteer guidance systems or swath control for farm machinery are widely adopted among farms. In contrast, adopting practices that require collecting, processing, and analyzing digital data are still behind. The goal of the DigitalAg@Farms program is to work with farmers on their farms in evaluating, demonstrating, and training in the use of digital technologies in agriculture.
Although digital agriculture involves the use of communication, sensing, smart machinery, electronics, computing technologies, and algorithms to support farm operations and practices, “sense-making” of data and derived management approaches resides in the involvement of multiple disciplines such as agronomy, engineering, computer and data science, biology, and many others. All the projects included in this report result from collaboration with faculty from various disciplines and colleges within Auburn University, other universities in the region, state and federal agencies, crop consultants, and private industry.
Training is a big component of this program. Demonstration sites are currently the nodes of a training network. Around each demonstration site, neighboring farmers are invited to learn and discuss the technologies being demonstrated and interact with fellow farmers using the technology, Extension agents, and private industry representatives. Field days and workshops are also hosted at or near demonstration sites. The data collected from each demonstration site is a crucial part of the technology evaluation and training efforts.