More Ohio farmers are turning to guidance systems


COLUMBUS — Guidance systems, like real-time kinetic auto steer, continue to be one of the top precision agriculture components of choice for Ohio farmers, and the most rapidly adopted precision equipment, according to an Ohio State University agricultural economics survey.

Marv Batte, an agricultural economist with the Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics, surveyed 2,500 farmers last year with sales of $50,000 or more to determine the rate of precision agriculture adoption among 17 components.

The survey, which resulted in a 58 percent response rate, is a continuation of similar surveys conducted in 1999 and 2003.

According to the results of the survey, nearly 55 percent of commercial farmers have adopted at least one piece of precision farming equipment as of 2007.

Precision guidance systems and yield monitors were the most frequently adopted precision farming equipment, with about 32 percent of all commercial farmers adopting them to date.


Precision guidance systems have been adopted by farmers most readily over the past eight years. Since 1999, adoption rates have jumped 27 percent. Adoption rates of yield monitors increased 15 percent since 1999.

Other precision agriculture components being rapidly adopted by Ohio farmers include georeferenced grid soil sampling; satellite GPS receiver; boundary mapping; variable rate application of lime, phosphorus and potassium; and aerial or satellite field photography.

The rate of adoption and what precision agriculture component is adopted depends on factors like farm size, annual sales and what kind of crops are being grown. Adoption is seven times larger for the largest farm class than for the smallest class of commercial farmers.

According to the survey, the least adopted precision agriculture equipment is variable rate application of pesticides and micronutrients.

Other results

Survey results also found:

  • Nearly 85 percent of the largest farmers have adopted at least one of the precision agricultural component technologies.
  • The average farmer adopted 4.5 precision agriculture components and they are adopted in sets to get the most out of the equipment being used.
  • Those farmers using precision guidance were using a lightbar system based on DGPS (Differential Global Positioning System). Spraying and fertilizer application were the field operations more frequently supported by precision guidance.
  • The highest net benefits were for variable rate application of lime and phosphorus and for precision guidance technology.
  • More than half of the farmers adopting precision agriculture technology said that benefits exceed costs. The evaluations were nearly equal among small and large farmers, meaning that even though small farmers were less likely to adopt precision agriculture technology, when they did they were just as happy with the system as their larger-farm colleagues.
  • In 1999, most farmers felt that precision agriculture technology was a break-even or losing proposition. Since 2003, they have more frequently viewed the technology as a profitable venture.
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