Sugarcane and precision agriculture: quantifying variability is only half the story – a review
Zamykal, Daniel, and Everingham, Yvette (2009) Sugarcane and precision agriculture: quantifying variability is only half the story – a review. In: Lichtfouse, Eric, (ed.) Climate Change, Intercropping, Pest Control and Beneficial Microorganisms. Sustainable Agriculture Reviews, 2 . Springer, Dordrecht, Netherlands, pp. 189-218.
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The world’s population is expected to reach 13 billion people by 2065. Increasing food production and sustaining the environmental resource base on which agriculture depends will prove a significant challenge for humankind. Precision agriculture is about putting the right input, in the right amount, at the right place, in the right manner at the right time. Precision agriculture is a tool which manages the variability in crop and growing conditions for improved economic and environmental returns. For precision agriculture to be successful, industry must collect, analyse, process and synthesise large amounts of information from a range of integrated enabling technologies. However, quantifying variability alone will not constitute successful precision agriculture in sugarcane production. Success will be measured by the extent to which these technologies are adopted by industry. This review broadens the popular within-field definition of precision agriculture to encompass higher levels of variability present at the farm, mill and regional scale. We propose that managing all these levels of variability is important, although, many of the technologies available for within-field management require further research prior to operationalisation. While a discussion on the range of enabling technologies such as the global positioning system, global information system, proximal sensing, remote sensing and variable rate technology is essential, we emphasise the need to develop a participatory action research environment to facilitate the adoption of precision agriculture for the benefit of whole of the industry.