Keywords: Precision farming, Nutrient management, Single Payment Scheme.
A sustainable agricultural sector must, by definition, be economically viable. However, with increasing exposure to global markets and agricultural reforms through EC policy, the sector needs to not only be efficient in terms of production but must also be mindful of the consumer and environment. The most recent reforms of the Common Agricultural Policy through the Mid-Term Review have resulted in a significant departure from production-based payments to farm managers. For the first time the concept of ‘the polluter pays’ has become part of the language of agricultural production. In England, the implications of these reforms have been to allow farmers greater freedom to farm to the demands of the market whilst at the same time be rewarded for environmentally friendly practices.
Decision-making on farm has become, and will continue to be, increasingly complex. As farm sizes increase, farmer numbers decrease and legislation becomes more demanding record keeping, the observance of rules and standards and the optimisation of fixed and variable costs will be vital. The applications of precision farming methods in whole-farm management are likely to have an increasingly important role to play. As the costs of precision farming methods decrease and their value to farm management increase they will soon become progressively more mainstream. Case studies using simple and more complex techniques are used to illustrate the role of precision farming methods in today’s modern agricultural system.
Dr Rosie Bryson, Ely, Cambridgeshire CB6 1DE, UK.
16 pages, 7 figures, 1 table, 12 references