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Precision Agriculture 101

In 1960, the average yield per acre of seed corn in Iowa was 63.5 bushels per acre. Last year, that same measure was 203 bushels per acre, because of advancements in farming technology like precision agriculture.

Precision agriculture includes auto-steering, yield monitoring, precision planting, and  "allows a farmer to really have a window into his machine and see what's going on," said Pete Youngblut, owner of Youngblut Ag, an independent precision agriculture product dealer in Dysart.

In this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Youngblut, as well as Kevin Butt, who leads a two-year degree program in precision agriculture at Ellsworth Community College; and Brad Buchanan, owner and president of Crop Tech Services, a crop monitoring service in Cedar Rapids.

Farmers in Iowa and worldwide are turning to precision agriculture for real-time data about seed depth and spacing, nutrient levels, and how much of a crop gets harvested. It is not uncommon to see a farmer using precision agriculture technology with an iPad in the field.

"We get one shot to [plant] correctly; one time across the field per year. So we want to do the best job that we can, because we know that's gonna have an impact on our bottom line," said Buchanan.

There is increasing demand for precision agriculture specialists, according to Butt. "It's very promising. For every student I have, we probably have five to six to seven people out in the industry looking for someone."

Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa