Spaceage Technology Shapes Modern

FARMING

Many years ago, farmers planted and plowed with their hands, a few tools, and sometimes large animals, such as horses. Since then, new technology has revolutionized the work of farmers. In the United States, agriculture is a multi-billion dollar industry, in part because of something called precision farming.

Precision farming Precision farming, which is also called site-specific farming, is a method of farming that involves giving special attention to certain areas of a field.

The fields across a farm can vary greatly. Soil fertility might differ from one area to the next, some areas might retain water more easily than others, and the topography might vary. In the past, a farmer would have made decisions about planting, fertilizing, irrigation, and pesticide applications based on the average characteristics of a field. So some areas of the field would then receive too much fertilizer, while other areas of the field would not receive enough. Precision farming allows farmers to account for the differences across the field, which can increase crop yields, reduce waste, and protect natural resources. Precision farming relies on tools called the geographic information systems (GIS) and global positioning system (GPS).

GIS mapping The GIS helps farmers plot many types of information onto a computerized map of their fields. Farmers can record areas on a field that are prone to pest infestations, or areas where there is a change in elevations. Images of the field taken from satellites can be combined with observations made by the farmer. A computer program incorporates all of the information that is added, and creates GIS map layers.

The Age Modern Sensing And Gis

WRITINQ Uv

Earth Science

Write a journal entry about what it would be like to run a farm where all the tractors were operated remotely. For more information on precision farming, visit www.glencoe.com.

These layers are used to create detailed maps of the farm which can be used to plan for future crops, and to help plan where fertilizer or herbicides should be applied.

GPS navigation A system of satellites in orbit around Earth constantly relay their signals to Earth's surface. Specialized devices called GPS receivers can pick up the signals from these satellites, and use them to instantly calculate their exact location on a GIS map. This technology is used in many ways, including helping farmers find their location within a few centimeters' accuracy. Using GPS, farmers can program their tractors to plow rows that are perfectly straight, and know exactly how much fertilizer to apply to the soil.

WRITINQ Uv

Earth Science

Write a journal entry about what it would be like to run a farm where all the tractors were operated remotely. For more information on precision farming, visit www.glencoe.com.

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