Innovations in Information Management To Enhance Agriculture: A Research Perspective

Friday, 13 February 2015: 10:00 AM-11:30 AM
Room 230B (San Jose Convention Center)
Jerry Hatfield, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Ames, IA
Information management should be the cornerstone for innovative agricultural systems; however, the challenge remains on how to utilize all of the components to enhance agriculture.  The enhancement of agriculture is often considered from only a yield perspective. This is an important factor and efforts have focused on precision agriculture to optimize the inputs which requires an integration of various components of soils, nutrients, water, and agronomic practices, e.g., seeding rate. Precision agriculture presumes that providing the spatial and temporal variation in inputs will produce the maximum production; however, there is little information on how effective these variations are in actually maximizing production levels. There are multiple information streams required for agricultural decision making including soils, weather, genetics, nutrients, and pest control. We can observe the temporal and spatial variation in fields using remote sensing and the utility of this information source is underutilized. There are attributes of cropping systems which can provide feedback to the effectiveness of management inputs and these include the radiation capture efficiency, growth rate, and leaf senescence rate.  There are many research gaps which need to be addressed which can enhance agriculture and these include: evaluation of the potential of remote sensing to estimate the temporal and spatial variation of crop parameters; evaluation of the integration of the spatial variation of fields with layers of soil and management inputs across multiple growing seasons; and evaluation of the change in spatial and temporal variation in crop growth and yield with variation in management inputs. There is a need to enhance agricultural efficiency which will produce a maximum return and to achieve this return will require innovation in information management and tools. Fulfilling this challenge will continue to allow agriculture to produce the food, feed, fuel, and fiber needs for the world’s population.