The UK's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has just published the findings of its annual Farm Practices Survey. The survey looks at how farm practices are affected by environmental issues and assesses the impact of agriculture on the environment. Topics vary from year to year so the content of the survey changes annually, ensuring that the information collected is relevant and current.
The autumn 2012 survey, the results of which have just been published, included questions on the use of precision agriculture, which can help to improve the efficiency of farm operations, including cultivation and better targeted fertiliser and agrochemical applications.
Of all the precision farming techniques asked about, the use of GPS remains the most popular and has increased the most between 2009 and 2012; 14% were using the technique in 2009, rising to 22% in 2012. Soil mapping and yield mapping have also seen increases.
When asked for their reasons for using precision farming techniques, 85% of respondents said it was to improve accuracy, 78% said to reduce input costs and 55% wanted to improve soil conditions. Of those farms which don't use any kind of precision technology, 47% said that it wasn't cost effective to do so or that the initial setup costs were too high, 28% said that it wasn't suitable for their farm type or size and 27% said that it was too complicated to use.
Read more about the survey here.