At the WSU Cook Agronomy Farm, USDA-ARS soil scientist David Huggins is developing a new generation of agricultural “tools” that may allow farmers to manage dryland crops down to the square meter. According to Chad Kruger, BIOAg educator for CSANR, the precision nitrogen management program is one of the obvious home runs of the Climate Friendly Farming project.
With precision agriculture, farmers use technologies such as geographical information systems (GIS) and global positioning systems (GPS) to determine site-specific applications of fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides and water.
“The overall effect is a reduction in chemical inputs and environmental degradation,” Kruger said.
Using the system, Kruger said scientists are able to decrease nitrogen applied to crops by at least 20 percent without affecting yields. That savings alone should allow the average Palouse farm “to easily recover the cost of buying the technology equipment in the first year,” he said.