The History of Precision Agriculture | When did precision farming start?

June 28, 2021

How Did Precision Ag Start?

It began with a seed. Some thousands of years ago, the first seed was intentionally planted. And from it came what we now call farming. Ancient civilizations used farming to feed, clothe, and sustain massive kingdoms – much like we do today. Countless harvests, fertilized soil, and hard work have led us to where we are now. The question is – where do we go from here?

Farming isn’t easy. It requires savvy spending, the right farm equipment, time, and more factors than most people realize. It goes without saying that when that amount of effort is put into farming, it’s important to maximize what comes out. It’s from that thought that precision farming is harvested.

What Year Did Precision Agriculture Begin?

Precision ag was initially theorized in the 1980s by Dr. Pierre Robert, the father of modern precision farming. He came up with the concept while in college and spent many years studying and pioneering precision farming principles. He opted to use technology to scan for soil irregularities, germination, drainage, and other key aspects of successful crops.

Robert argued that by focusing resources on poor crops instead of using a blanket approach, they could spend more money and time on the crops that need the extra attention. And they gained the ability to preserve good crops before they could go bad.

However, like any great idea, it’s only flawless on paper. At the time, and despite using cutting-edge equipment, some aspects of precision farming were beyond the technology limitations. As such, it was time for new equipment.

Important Early Inventions of Precision Ag

One of the most important early inventions for precision agriculture is variable rate application (VRA). Spot checking and treating crops is an important component of precision farming. But managing hundreds of acres or more manually is nigh impossible without a blanket approach. To assist, variable rate application and equipment help farmers apply inputs only where needed. 

Here are some benefits of VRA:

Saves Resources: Variable rate application cuts down on excess use of inputs, which helps farmers save both money and time.

Higher Yields: VRA increases the yields of poor crops to acceptable levels. That equals a larger harvest for the same amount of land.

Better for the Environment: With VRA, less harmful chemicals are used to maintain crop integrity. Fewer chemicals are better for the environment, soil, and harvest. Much like the other benefits of VRA, this benefit increases exponentially for larger farms.

The Growth and Future of Precision Farming

Precision farming wasn’t overly utilized for the first few decades of its existence. In the early days, farmers were either unconvinced of the benefits of PA or lacked the funds to install the system. Various renovations and changes were made to precision agriculture equipment to ensure ease of use, financial profit, and long-term applications.

In the early 2000s, the practice began to pick up steam among niche farmers. These niche farmers utilized the systems in such a way that profitability and benefits were no longer considered a question but instead a guaranteed time.

Modern precision farming is moving toward accumulating more data and sharing info to suss out better farming options. While current farming equipment may become more efficient with time, adjusting crops, finding the best areas for crops, and the right time for planting is the overall goal.

How Trimble Ag Helps Farmers

Trimble Agriculture is an innovative leader in precision ag. We provide farmers high-quality, long-lasting solutions designed to help farms thrive around the world. Using GPS-based technology and connected your data across all devices, you can make the most of your acreage with effective data-driven decision-making that boosts yields and maximizes productivity.

We provide sensors, spot sprays, precision layers, and more. You’ll be able to use our systems to monitor every square inch of your farm, letting you work better, longer.

We’ve been supporting farmers for decades with cutting-edge technology and innovative products. We got our start back in 1978, a little before Pierre Roberts would go on to pioneer the very industry that we are in today. As a long-standing industry leader, we will continue to support our farmers from field-to-plate. Trimble Ag solutions are designed with farmers in mind.

To learn more about Trimble precision ag solutions, contact your local reseller today.

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