Precision Agriculture

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Precision Agriculture

Using sensors, algorithms, and optimization analytics, farmers can now quantify the progress of every crop.

Key Insight

Using sensors, algorithms, and optimization analytics, farmers can now quantify the progress of every single crop—down to a single cherry tomato hanging on a particular vine.

Why It Matters

Precision agriculture can help increase crop yields and profitability while reducing the costs associated with watering, fertilizing and treating crops for pests.


The University of Georgia became one of the first research institutions to apply big data to farming in the mid-1990s. This new farm management approach involves a variety of technologies, including GPS, sensors, collaborative robotics, autonomous vehicles, autonomous soil sampling, telematics, and lots of machine learning.

Vestiges of precision agriculture have been around since farmers started using GPS alongside their tractors, but advancements in robotics, data collection, and insights have meant new opportunities. Farmers can now vary irrigation and fertilizer automatically using new technologies.

What’s Next

Modern agriculture relies on efficient management and accurate predictions. Researchers at the University of Illinois combined seasonal climate data and satellite images with the USDA’s World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates to build new kinds of prediction models—they hope this will help farmers predict crop yields in advance given environmental factors.

South Dakota State University invested $46 million in a new facility to study the future of precision agriculture and is developing new precision ag courses set to start in 2021. New technologies on the near-future horizon include drones equipped with smart cameras, data mining to understand crop blossoming and ripeness, and new analytics dashboards to help farmers make better decisions.

The Impact

As 5G becomes more widely available this year, precision agriculture applications will improve and usage will expand.


Amazon, Arable, Blue River Technology, Bosch, CropMetrics, Descartes Labs, DuPont, Farmers Business Network, Farmers Edge, Google, Honeywell, Planet Labs, SAP, Semios, Sentera, Smart Ag, Syngenta, TerrAvion, University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, University of Georgia’s Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development, University of Illinois, United States Department of Agriculture.