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UGA, Auburn schedule precision ag workshops in Georgia, Alabama By Clint Thompson

Auto-steer technology, variable rate irrigation, smart-phone apps — these are all precision farming techniques that University of Georgia professor George Vellidis believes farmers should be using in their day-to-day operations.

“Just like any business enterprise, there are always inefficiencies in the system. Farming may be one of the businesses where there is a great opportunity to improve the efficiency of the operation,” said Vellidis, an expert in precision agriculture. “We can improve the efficiency of the farming operation tremendously by using information to make better decisions.”

Vellidis will share more of his experise during a precision agriculture workshop set for Feb. 25 on the UGA campus in Tifton. The workshop will be held at the Tifton Campus Conference Center from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

With the recent introduction of variable rate irrigation, farmers can vary the amount of irrigation water used on their crops. If a farmer know certain areas of his field need more or less water, he can manipulate the irrigation system to fit his needs.

“Think about this scenario where you’ve got a field and you’re over-watering half and under-watering the other half. If you optimize it, you’d be putting on more water here and less water there and although you may not be reducing the amount of water you use, you’re using it more efficiently,” Vellidis said. “You’re producing more yield per drop.”

Other topics at the workshop include profit maps — examining a map of a field and determining which sections make farmers money and which ones cost farmers money — and smart phone apps that help producers make decisions regarding their irrigation systems when they are away from the field.

“We’re trying to find precision Ag tools, techniques, technologies that have worked across several continents and demonstrate to the practitioners that these are trued and tried precision Ag practices that can be applied anywhere,” Vellidis said.

At the workshop, hands-on exercises and demonstrations will be conducted where participants will learn about precision planting in row crops, converting yield maps to profit maps, crop sensors for input management in row crops and creating management zones. The instructors will demonstrate how these practices can be applied locally, describe their benefits and hopefully eliminate any hesitation the participants may feel towards adopting these practices, Vellidis said.

Offered jointly by the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (caes.uga.edu)and Auburn University, the workshop will also be held on Feb. 27 in Headland, Ala. and on Feb. 28 in Shorter, Ala.

“The whole purpose of precision Ag is to understand how to integrate layers of information and act upon them so you maximize your profit,” Vellidis said. “So if we use technology and information to manage our resources, we can optimize how we use our resources and maximize our profits, that’s precision Ag.”

To register for either workshop, visit vellidis.org or email Vellidis at yiorgos@uga.edu or Brenda Ortiz at bortiz@auburn.edu. Attendance is free but registration is required by Feb. 14. Participants can earn 4.5 continuing education units at each workshop.

(Clint Thompson is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences based in Tifton.)

Calvin Perry VRI
Calvin Perry VRI

Calvin Perry, superintendent of the UGA CM Stripling Irrigation Research Park in Camilla, Ga., adjusts the controls of a variable-rate irrigation system. VRI uses computer maps, global positioning systems, soil sensors and software to control where and how much water the nozzles on a center pivot spray on crops. Perry and his colleagues recently added a 'push-button' feature to the system to make it easier for farmers to program.

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Calvin Perry, superintendent of the UGA CM Stripling Irrigation Research Park in Camilla, Ga., adjusts the controls of a variable-rate irrigation system. VRI uses computer maps, global positioning systems, soil sensors and software to control where and how much water the nozzles on a center pivot spray on crops. Perry and his colleagues recently added a 'push-button' feature to the system to make it easier for farmers to program. Download Image
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