This video adapted from ATETV features some of the new technologies being applied in the agricultural industry, including the Global Positioning System (GPS) and Geographic Information Systems (GIS). The video demonstrates how GPS can be used in a tractor to guide it through fields and how GIS analyze collected data to help a farmer make better planting decisions. It also emphasizes the growing job opportunities for students with computer and mechanical skills, as technology is being used increasingly in a wider range of occupations, including farming.
Farming has gone high-tech. Thanks to innovative technologies that are extremely accurate, cost-effective, and user-friendly, a method of farm management called precision agriculture has been widely adopted by large and small farmers alike since its introduction in the early 1990s. Before then, soil surveys and topographic maps did not provide enough information to be of much use in the field. Today, the primary tools of precision agriculture—the Global Positioning System (GPS) and Geographic Information Systems (GIS)—enable farmers to collect, record, and analyze information about their land in order to maximize yield and reduce costs.
GPS technology can be used in agriculture to measure field acreage more precisely and to record information about that acreage, such as soil nutrient and moisture levels and pest infestations. GPS relies on a network of 24 or more satellites to pinpoint locations on Earth. These satellites continuously transmit signals that are monitored by ground stations worldwide and can be detected by anyone with a GPS receiver. GPS also allows farmers to navigate to specific locations in their fields to plow, collect soil samples, or monitor crop conditions for disease, infestation, or weeds.
Geographic information systems create digital representations of spatial data. If you've ever used an online mapping program to find a location or get directions, you are already familiar with its power. Many farmers use GIS software to analyze data collected with the help of GPS. They can then convert these data into a series of map overlays that help them visualize their unique farming conditions and gauge the effects of their management practices. For example, in a map of a crop farm, one layer might represent the land boundaries, a second layer the different soil types, a third layer irrigation, and another the crop yield. Taken together, the map can help the farmer determine how various factors including soil type, pest control measures, or water/irrigation affect the crop yield over a given plot of land.
The site-specific information collected and analyzed by GPS and GIS systems can save money and time. Farmers use the analysis to treat targeted areas with no more inputs, such as seeds or fertilizer, than are needed to improve growing conditions. The more precise the farmers are with the application of these inputs, the more they can reduce their expenses. At the same time, they can produce a higher yield and create a more environmentally friendly farm.
In response to the growing demand for specialists trained in these systems, many agricultural technology programs are offering GPS and GIS certification. Coursework may include hands-on labs on installing data collection systems, and operating guidance systems on machinery like tractors and sprayers.
Academic standards correlations on Teachers' Domain use the Achievement Standards Network (ASN) database of state and national standards, provided to NSDL projects courtesy of JES & Co.
We assign reference terms to each statement within a standards document and to each media resource, and correlations are based upon matches of these terms for a given grade band. If a particular standards document of interest to you is not displayed yet, it most likely has not yet been processed by ASN or by Teachers' Domain. We will be adding social studies and arts correlations over the coming year, and also will be increasing the specificity of alignment.