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Everyone at the Table: How Even Small-Scale Farmers can Benefit from Precision Ag

photo credit: United Soybean Board/ CC BY 2.0

Conversations around precision agriculture typically involve large-scale farms and ranches. These conversations lead to images of combines equipped with GPS guidance systems to harvest thousands of acres, or dairies with robotic milkers for several thousands of cows. But the concept of precision ag is simple: It encompasses any technologies, automations, and innovations used to improve agricultural operations no matter how big or small.

However, the assumption remains that leveraging technology is more financially feasible on large-scale farms. This assumption does bear some validity, but as technologies increasingly become more user-friendly and readily available, smaller-scale operations — where labor, money, and resources are limited — can leverage these tools as well.

Small-scale farmers (usually defined as having just a few acres) predominantly rely on family members for their labor and can subsequently make greater sacrifices when it comes to work life balance than a large-scale operation with dedicated employees.

AFBF economist Bernt Nelson took a deep dive into how precision ag can benefit small-scale farmers with AGDAILY