The purpose of our precision farming project was to determine if precision farming technologies were practical as well as economical for Giles County farmers. Many farmers had expressed an interest in the technology but were unwilling to take on the risk of trying it for themselves. With the help of University of Tennessee (UT) precision farming specialists we selected two fields in 1999 that we wanted to use in our demonstration. These fields were soil tested on a 2.5 acre scale to determine the nutrient needs. In some cases part of the project fields was soil tested to 1/8 of an acre for a more detailed study.
Variable rate lime and potash applications were based on soil tests and plots developed by the UT specialists. These applications were made in the late winter of 2000. Follow-up soil tests at random points were taken in the winter of 2001 to determine immediate nutrient impacts.
In the fall of 1999, one on-site field day was held to show how a yield monitor could be used to generate maps for decision making. A soil quality and yield mapping field day was held in November of 2001 at one of the project fields to discuss basic soil quality issues, demonstrate how GPS works and discuss the use of yield maps in decision making. A county farmer meeting was held in the winter of 2002 to show producers how this technology works and to discuss findings from the first two harvest seasons.
As a result we have been able to make more informed decisions concerning our row crop acreage. At this time we plan to take acres out of production that do not meet the cost of the inputs. These acres may be put into NRCS programs such as CRP.