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Gary T. Roberson

Precision agriculture is a comprehensive system that relies on information, technology and management to optimize agricultural production. While used since the mid-1980s in agronomic crops, it is attracting increasing interest in horticultural crops. Relatively high per acre crop values for some horticultural crops and crop response to variability in soil and nutrients makes precision agriculture an attractive production system. Precision agriculture efforts in the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering at North Carolina State University are currently focused in two functional areas: site-specific management and postharvest process management. Much of the information base, technology, and management practices developed in agronomic crops have practical and potentially profitable applications in fruit and vegetable production. Mechanized soil sampling, pest scouting and variable rate control systems are readily adapted to horticultural crops. Yield monitors are under development for many crops that can be mechanically harvested. Investigations have begun to develop yield monitoring capability for hand harvested crops. Postharvest controls are widely used in horticultural crops to enhance or protect product quality.

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R. Karina Gallardo, Kara Grant, David J. Brown, James R. McFerson, Karen M. Lewis, Todd Einhorn and Mario Miranda Sazo

Precision agriculture technologies have been successfully applied in a number of U.S. crop production systems over the past few decades ( Gebbers and Adamchuk, 2010 ). Early applications focused on yield monitors and global positioning satellite

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Gary T. Roberson

Precision agriculture is a comprehensive system that relies on information, technology, and management to optimize agricultural production. While used for several years in agronomic crops, it is attracting increasing interest in horticultural crops. Relatively high per-acre crop values for some horticultural crops makes precision agriculture an attractive production system. Precision agriculture efforts in biological and agricultural engineering at North Carolina State Univ. are currently focused in two functional areas: site specific managment (SSM) and postharvest process managment (PPM). Much of the information base, technology, and management practices developed in agronomic crops have practical and potentially profitable applications in fruit and vegetable production. Mechanized soil sampling, and variable rate control systems are readily adapted to horticultural crops. Postharvest controls are widely used to enhance or protect product quality. These technologies and their applications will be discussed in this presentation. Yield monitors are under development for many crops that can be mechanically harvested. An overview of these developments will be discussed. In addition, low-cost technologies for entry into precision will be presented.

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Todd Rosenstock and Patrick Brown

Alternate bearing exerts economic and environmental consequences through unfulfilled yield potential and fertilizer runoff, respectively. We will discuss a systematic biological–statistical modeling management integration approach to address the concert of mechanisms catalyzing alternate bearing. New engineering technologies (precision harvesting, spatially variable fertigation, and mathematical crop modeling) are enabling optimization of alternate bearing systems. Four years of harvest data have been collected, documenting yield per tree of an 80-acre orchard. These results have shown variability within orchard to range from 20–180 lbs per tree per year. Results indicate irregular patterns not directly correlated to previous yield, soil, or tissue nutrient levels, or pollen abundance. Nor does significant autocorrelation of high or low yields occur throughout the orchard, suggesting that genetically dissimilar rootstocks may have significant impact. The general division of high- and low-yielding halves of the orchard may infer a biotic incongruency in microclimates. This orchard does not display a traditional 1 year-on, 1 year-off cyclic pattern. Delineation of causal mechanisms and the ability to manage effectively for current demands will empower growers to evaluate their fertilization, irrigation, male: female ratio, site selection, and economic planning. In comparison to annual crops, the application of precision agriculture to tree crops is more complex and profitable. When applied in conjunction, the aforementioned methods will have the ability to forecast yields, isolate mechanisms of alternate bearing, selectively manage resources, locate superior individuals, and establish new paradigms for experimental designs in perennial tree crops.

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Arnold W. Schumann

Precision agriculture (PA), as the name implies, is useful technology for growing and fertilizing horticultural crops more precisely or efficiently, thereby retaining water and nutrients in the root zone. Three techniques with which PA can help

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Douglas C. Sanders

The diversity of site-specific management opportunities is demonstrated by the list of topics and speakers we have in the colloquium. These techniques will help use to better understand, adapt, and adjust horticultural management to the benefit of producers, researchers, and the consumer. With these technologies we will be able to reduce costs, environmental impacts, and improve production, and quality. Horticulture will use more both remote and manually operated devices that allow more intensive planning and management of our production systems. This colloquium has just scratched the surface of the potential of these techniques in horticulture. We hope that the sampling will whet your appetite for great depth of study of the opportunities that are just around the corner.

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Pierre C. Robert

A better awareness of soil and crop condition variability within fields brought the notion, in the early 1980s that variable management within fields by zones rather than whole fields would increase profitability by doing the right thing at the right place in the right way. At the same time, the microcomputer became available and made possible the acquisition, processing, and use of spatial field data as well as the development of a new kind of farm machinery with computerized controllers and sensors. Precision agriculture (PA) has been considered for most common cropping systems and some specialty crops, worldwide. It is particularly well adapted to high value crops such as many horticultural crops. PA is still in infancy and its adoption varies greatly but precision agriculture is the agricultural system of the future. It offers a variety of potential benefits in profitability, productivity, sustainability, crop quality, food safety, environmental protection, on-farm quality of life, and rural economic development.

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Timothy L. Righetti and Michael D. Halbleib

Agriculture is changing. State-of-the-art computer systems that use GPS (global positioning systems) data, GIS (geographic information systems) software, remotely sensed images, automated sampling, and information analysis systems are transforming growers' ability to produce their crops. Currently, the farm service and agricultural sales industry, rather than the grower direct most information technology applications. Precision agriculture must become an information-driven and grower-driven process. Data evaluation has to be made simpler, less time consuming, and inexpensive. The purpose of this paper is to outline potential strategies and demonstrate how information can be processed and evaluated with readily available and inexpensive analytical tools.

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Qamar Uz Zaman, Arnold Walter Schumann and David Charles Percival

developers/manufacturers. The SMMS was sufficiently accurate for many site-specific or precision agriculture uses. Applications of the system could include the real-time determination of slope for on-the-go variable rate fertilization and herbicide spraying

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J.R. Davenport, C.A. Redulla, M.J. Hattendorf, R.G. Evans and R.A. Boydston

An accurate yield map is imperative for successful precision farming. For 3 years (1998 to 2000) two to four potato (Solanum tuberosum) fields on a commercial farm in southeastern Washington were yield-monitored using commercial yield monitoring equipment without operator interaction. Multiple potato diggers were used to harvest the fields and diggers used were not necessarily the same at each harvest. In all years, yield monitoring data were missing due to equipment failure or lack of yield monitoring equipment on all diggers. Banding, due to dissimilar calibrations, different equipment used, or differential digger performance was observed in 1998 and 2000. Based on experience described here, some yield monitor data need minimal postprocessing or correction, other data need substantial postprocessing to make them usable, and other data may not be reliable due to equipment failure, improper calibration, or other causes. Even with preharvest calibration, it is still likely that the potato yield monitor data will need differential postprocessing, indicating that yield maps lack accuracy. In addition, comparison to yield data collected at multiple points within the field, this study found that the yield monitor over estimated potato yield. Thus, with some postprocessing, a useful yield map showing within field differences is possible. However, without significant postprocessing, the practice of using multiple diggers and yield monitors for potato harvest, both within and between fields, severely limits the ability to make consistent yield maps in commercial potato operations.