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Precision Agriculture is changing. The first step was adoption of the gadgets associated with precision agriculture: auto-steer, RTK guidance, yield monitors. Many growers have retro-fitted old machinery with these gadgets, or have them as standard components on new machinery. Driving straight and printing maps is only 5% of what this technology can do. The next step in precision ag is helping farmers use the other 95% of what this technology can do. This is accomplished by analyzing the data that is collected while these precision ag gadgets operate. As Ray LeMay of FarmLink said, "by analyzing data elements ... farmers can make decisions by focusing time and resources where greatest opportunity exists."

 The most important thing to remember is that precision agriculture is not "one size fits all." Precision agriculture must be customized to your operation and even to each farm within your operation in order to realize the greatest benefit. Customize your precision ag path to meet you needs. This new trend in precision ag is being called "AgInformatics". This fancy new buzzword means that by analyzing the data collected by precision ag gadgets we can move beyond the basics of driving straight and sub-inch accuracy to predictive ag and prescriptive ag. Simply put, we can use the information from your farm to optimize production practices on your farm. For example you can use your yield data from previous seasons to create variable rate fertilizer prescriptions. Based on yield trends you can determine productivity zones and apply fertilizer at the right rate and in the right place based on the historic trends.

Imagery is another layer of data that is beneficial as a component of AgInformatics. The more information you have about any one farm, the easier it is to identify the yield-limiting factor(s) for that farm and make the necessary adjustments to optimize production practices. 

Even the new precision ag technology that is emerging now relies on base information from other precision ag gadgets to work. For example, you must have precision ag data compiled for a farm in order to create a variable seeding rate or multi-hybrid seeding recommendation for the new multi-rate and/or multi-hybrid planters to read.

Precision agriculture is ever evolving. One day what we now call "precision" agriculture will simply be agriculture. the "precision" part will be standard. Your farm data layers are the pieces of the puzzle that will lead you to your farm goals.