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Applying nutrients to fields is necessary to achieve the maximum yield a soil is capable of producing. Many times, however, different amounts of nutrients exist in differing parts of one field. These differences can be the result of soil type, topography, and drainage class. Uniform application of fertilizer can result in some areas of deficient nutrients and other areas with excessive nutrients.
Variable rate technology, also referred to as precision agriculture, can be used to determine where fertilizer is needed, rather than broadly applying it to the entire field. In one type of variable rate application, a sensor is attached to the tractor, and relays information back to the applicator as it drives over a specific part of the soil. This results in a more precise application of nutrients, which can lead to higher yields and reduced fertilizer costs. The use of variable rate technology can help you manage your field in a way that protects water quality and reduces cost to you!
Precision Agriculture - Variable Rate Technology handout (Purdue University Cooperation Extension Service)