Project Coordinator: David Lee, Salem County Agricultural Agent
For large farms and fields in the Midwest and Western United States, precision agriculture tools based on Global Positioning Systems (GPS), Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and Remote Sensing (RS) are used successfully to guides and manage large farming operations. GPS-led site-specific field management coupled with color and color-infrared aerial photography and satellite imagery can optimize chemical inputs to fields, improve yields, identify crop stress and weed infestations, and improve environmental quality by decreasing nutrient run-off into watersheds. Over the past two years, Rutgers Cooperative Extension has begun to test whether site-specific precision agriculture tools work accurately and economically on the small farms and fields common to New Jersey growers. Recently purchased, relatively low cost/high technology tools include 1) a Trimble AgGPS Model 122 differential GPS unit for field mapping, site-specific sampling, and navigation, 2) an agricultural digital camera (DYCAM, Inc.) for analysis of crop stress, 3) a 35 mm camera for identifying crop stress, 4) a video mapping system (VMS 200) compatible with the AgGPS 122 unit for monitoring land management and crop stress over large areas. These tools are being used in projects ranging from crop and nutrient to watershed management. The use of these technologies appear to lead to improved crop health and economic savings to growers, as well as to an enhanced knowledge base, leading to improvements in farm decision-making.