Whether it's finding a new way to boost yields, apply variable rate nutrients, trim seed and chemical costs, control weeds or check out novel farm machinery ideas, no-tillers are always ready to try something new if it makes sense in their operations.

That’s certainly been the case with the adoption of precision ag technologies. And as confirmed in a recent analysis, the investment has been profitable for most precision ag users.

Lots of Precision Uses

Earlier this spring, L.E.K Consulting shared data from a survey of 300 U.S. growers that looked at the impact investing in precision ag had on their farming operations.

The data showed nearly half of these growers utilize precision ag. In fact, 25% are using nine or more different precision applications, such as soil sampling, monitoring, mapping, equipment positioning, variable rate seeding, GPS and variable rate chemical and nutrient application.

Nearly one-third of the growers ranked reduced cropping costs and improved yields as major economic benefits of precision ag.

Watching Dollars

Over the past 6 years, 48% of these growers continued to invest more dollars each year in precision ag, while 32% indicated their spending held steady. However, 33% of the growers reduced the amount of dollars they spent each year on precision ag.

Between now and 2022, only 27% of the growers expect to invest still more dollars each year on precision ag. Some 27% expect to spend the same amount each year, while 47% expect to spend less.

Unfortunately, the study indicated some growers don’t believe they’re getting enough return from precision ag. This may be due to current unfavorable farming conditions along with the fact some feel they already have enough precision ag “bells and whistles.”

No-Tillers on Board

Results from this year’s 11th annual No-Till Operational Benchmark Study indicate more than half of no-tillers are using GPS auto-steer, yield monitor data analysis and field mapping technologies. Some 34% also use light bars.

Variable rate farming is also popular among no-tillers. Some 45% rely on this technology for fertilizing and 32% for seeding. 

Innovative no-tillers will continue to invest in precision ag as they see the many benefits in boosting yields and trimming costs in these tough economic times. Yet many other growers still need to be convinced that spending more precision dollars can pay off big time in trimming their costs and pushing up yields.