Farmers may soon have even more management detail available to them about their soil. Purdue University agronomist Phillip Owens has developed soil-mapping technology that provides visual information about soil functionality and productivity. In a youtube video Owens explains that current map technology from USDA classifies and names soil types as broad units based on their appearance. But it’s his detail that farmers really want.
“With these soil maps you can understand fertilization rates, you can understand irrigation rates, and you can also understand where practices may benefit you the most. This is extremely useful for farmers because they’re managing to make profits. Better understanding of your soil will increase your profits.”
The Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization has filed a patent application on the technology, which was developed with funding from the USDA and Purdue. Owens is looking for venture capitalists or agriculture firms to license and scale up the technology for the marketplace. What does he foresee?
“I see these functional maps being downloaded and directly inputted as information in the tractor. So when you’re driving across the field you can vary your fertilizer rates or your nitrogen rates or your seeding rates. This will allow you to make on the go decisions using the technology on the tractor. I also see that this information will be utilized through iPhones or tablets so that you can look at your information with your GPS on your phone and say I understand something about this soil in a specific location. And something like water holding capacity is very important to understanding crop growth.”
The associate professor of agronomy in Purdue’s College of Agriculture said the maps also show “categorized information like the highest and lowest yielding areas, how much water the soil would store after a rainfall event, and how fast a farmer could expect runoff.”
Source: Purdue News Service