In Washington D.C., the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that precision agriculture technologies may offer cost savings and higher yields through more precise management of inputs. Looking at adoption rates for GPS-based mapping systems, guidance or auto-steer systems and variable rate technologies for applying inputs, the study revealed that all three technologies have small positive impacts on both net returns (including overhead expenses) and operating profits for a U.S. corn farm of average size.
USDA determined that adoption rates vary significantly between the technologies. Yield mapping has grown faster for corn and soybeans than for other crops and is most widely adopted with about half of all corn and soybean fields using them. Tractor guidance systems have grown faster than variable-rate input systems for all major field crops over the last 10 years, with auto-steer systems used on about a third of all farms and variable rate technologies on only about a quarter.