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MDA offers forum to discuss precision agriculture

September 06, 2005

ANNAPOLIS - Agriculture is entering the age of computers and geo-spatial imaging, seeking better yields, lower costs and environmental enhancement.

Whether Maryland farm operators will gain by costly investment in these new technologies is the subject being explored Sept. 21 at the Precision Agriculture Forum, sponsored by the Nutrient Management Program of the Maryland Department of Agriculture.

"The volume of information and rate of technological change in agriculture today presents many opportunities and often confusion for farmers," said Agriculture Secretary Lewis R. Riley.

"This forum is one way that MDA can help farmers weigh the options to determine what technology might be useful in their operations and why."

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Aerial photography and geo-spatial information assist in collecting precise field information. Yield monitoring, optical sensors and mapping allow the grower to monitor and respond to crop needs as they grow, increasing productivity. Variable rate applicators save money on fertilizer and reduce nutrient runoff that harms water quality.

Presenters at the forum include:

  • Dr. Bobby Grisso, professor of Biological Systems Engineering at Virginia Tech, speaking on "Usage of Geo-Spatial Information and Application to Agriculture."

  • Dr. Craig Daughtry of the U.S. Department of Agriculture will speak on "Spectral Properties of Crops and Soils."

  • Representatives of the Mosaic Company, Dr. Ron Olson and Dr. Dan Froehlich, will present "Variable Rate Nutrient Systems."

  • "Aerial Photography and Field Data Collection" will be presented by Marty Campfield, a consultant with NSIA, Inc.

  • Scott Quinn of Farmsite Technologies will speak on "Yield Monitoring and Mapping."

  • Maryland farmer Trey Hill, of Harborview Farms, will share his experience with precision agriculture.


The day will conclude with an economic perspective by Andrew Martin of Pennsylvania State University and a panel discussion by all the day's presenters.

The forum is from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Patuxent National Wildlife Visitors Center in Laurel, Md.

Registration forms are available by calling 1-410-841-9595 or on the MDA Web site www:mda.state.md.us. Look for Nutrient Management, 2005 Schedule of Nutrient Management Classes.

Six continuing education credits are offered for the day.

For further information, contact Sandra M. Thomas, training coordinator for the Nutrient Management Program, at 1-410-841-5959.

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