Nav: Home

Satellites And Sensors To Be Used For Better Control Of Crop Pests

April 03, 1997

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Illinois farming is going high-tech. Come this spring, a growing number of farmers will use computers linked to global positioning satellites to apply fertilizers and pesticides to their fields. Then in fall, they'll use GPS technology to monitor their harvest yields.

"GPS and site-specific farming have become part of the vocabulary of corn and soybean farmers," said Eric A. DeVuyst, an agricultural economist at the University of Illinois. GPS refers to the network of 24 satellites that, orbiting 11,000 miles above Earth, can pinpoint the location of a moving vehicle by means of a receiver in the cab.

Global positioning can give precise readouts of field and crop boundaries, within an accuracy of 3 feet or less, once certain adjustments are made. The U.S. Department of Defense, which launched the satellites for military purposes, has placed intentional errors in the transmissions (to ward off terrorists); atmospheric changes can further distort accuracy. However, farmers and other civilian users may set up ground receivers to correct the inaccuracies.

Linked to field sensors on combines, farmers use GPS technology to develop computerized maps for soil moisture, crop yields and other information. "A computer reads the stored soil and fertility maps to determine the desired treatment rate, and the application rate is adjusted accordingly," DeVuyst said.

At present, the technology is used mostly for applying fertilizer and lime to fields. But DeVuyst says it is only a matter of time before pest infestations can be mapped with hand-held computers linked to a GPS receiver, allowing site-specific treatment in the next growing season.

Cost is a major hurdle of GPS technology, says John F. Reid, a U. of I. agricultural engineer. "The price for GPS receivers and related units currently range from $3,000 to $30,000 depending on the accuracy and capabilities of the instruments," Reid said. "That adds a lot to the current $150,000 to $180,000 selling price of a new combine." Nevertheless, one out of four combines sold last year were equipped with GPS yield-monitoring units, he said.

U. of I. engineers, meanwhile, are taking GPS to its next step -- as a guidance system for tractors, combines, spray rigs and other moving equipment. A research team led by graduate student Timothy Stombaugh is developing a system in which vehicles can be steered along a crop row by means of satellite navigation.

"We don't envision GPS taking the place of the farmer in the cab," Stombaugh said. "This would pose serious safety and liability questions, among other things. But it could let farmers do their field work more efficiently."

What's more, the new technology is expected to aid the environment by lowering chemical runoff from excess doses of pesticides and fertilizers and by reducing soil erosion.
-end-


University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Related Technology Articles:

Technology innovation for neurology
TU Graz researcher Francesco Greco has developed ultra-light tattoo electrodes that are hardly noticeable on the skin and make long-term measurements of brain activity cheaper and easier.
April's SLAS Technology is now available
April's Edition of SLAS Technology Features Cover Article, 'CURATE.AI: Optimizing Personalized Medicine with Artificial Intelligence'.
Technology in higher education: learning with it instead of from it
Technology has shifted the way that professors teach students in higher education.
Post-lithium technology
Next-generation batteries will probably see the replacement of lithium ions by more abundant and environmentally benign alkali metal or multivalent ions.
Rethinking the role of technology in the classroom
Introducing tablets and laptops to the classroom has certain educational virtues, according to Annahita Ball, an assistant professor in the University at Buffalo School of Social Work, but her research suggests that tech has its limitations as well.
The science and technology of FAST
The Five hundred-meter Aperture Spherical radio Telescope (FAST), located in a radio quiet zone, with the targets (e.g., radio pulsars and neutron stars, galactic and extragalactic 21-cm HI emission).
AI technology could help protect water supplies
Progress on new artificial intelligence (AI) technology could make monitoring at water treatment plants cheaper and easier and help safeguard public health.
Transformative technology
UC Davis neuroscientists have developed fluorescence sensors that are opening a new era for the optical recording of dopamine activity in the living brain.
Do the elderly want technology to help them take their medication?
Over 65s say they would find technology to help them take their medications helpful, but need the technology to be familiar, accessible and easy to use, according to research by Queen Mary University of London and University of Cambridge.
Technology detecting RNase activity
A KAIST research team of Professor Hyun Gyu Park at Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering developed a new technology to detect the activity of RNase H, a RNA degrading enzyme.
More Technology News and Technology Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: Meditations on Loneliness
Original broadcast date: April 24, 2020. We're a social species now living in isolation. But loneliness was a problem well before this era of social distancing. This hour, TED speakers explore how we can live and make peace with loneliness. Guests on the show include author and illustrator Jonny Sun, psychologist Susan Pinker, architect Grace Kim, and writer Suleika Jaouad.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#565 The Great Wide Indoors
We're all spending a bit more time indoors this summer than we probably figured. But did you ever stop to think about why the places we live and work as designed the way they are? And how they could be designed better? We're talking with Emily Anthes about her new book "The Great Indoors: The Surprising Science of how Buildings Shape our Behavior, Health and Happiness".
Now Playing: Radiolab

The Third. A TED Talk.
Jad gives a TED talk about his life as a journalist and how Radiolab has evolved over the years. Here's how TED described it:How do you end a story? Host of Radiolab Jad Abumrad tells how his search for an answer led him home to the mountains of Tennessee, where he met an unexpected teacher: Dolly Parton.Jad Nicholas Abumrad is a Lebanese-American radio host, composer and producer. He is the founder of the syndicated public radio program Radiolab, which is broadcast on over 600 radio stations nationwide and is downloaded more than 120 million times a year as a podcast. He also created More Perfect, a podcast that tells the stories behind the Supreme Court's most famous decisions. And most recently, Dolly Parton's America, a nine-episode podcast exploring the life and times of the iconic country music star. Abumrad has received three Peabody Awards and was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2011.