> putting theselves on the line and living up to written standards. I doubt if
> you'll ever see a "precision farmer" with the same level of committment.
Actually, just this past weekend I was talking with several farmers in
the Midwest who are applying precision-farming techniques to their operations.
GPS and yield monitors are turning out to be an incredibly useful tool
for evaluating all sorts of factors in the field. Soil testing can just
as easily monitor biological activity, earthworm populations, compaction,
wet aggregate stability, percent organic matter, humus quality, or whatever,
as it can measure NPK.
Leading-edge organic farmers are using precision-farming techniques to
determine just which factors have the greatest influence on their crop
with minimal levels of inputs. Some are even using intermittant sampling
to evaluate crop *quality* or are blending GPS with aerial infrared
photos and refractometry, insect and disease scouting, etc, to determine
crop *health* in the field.
Like any tool, precision farming can be used well or badly, for beneficial
purposes or questionable ones, creatively or to bring us more of the same.
The results those folks are beginning to generate are phenomenally
exciting in their implications for how a farm can be managed to generate
maximum yields of high-quality foods with greatly reduce off-farm inputs.