Soil Science


Precision agriculture is the science of linking differential global positioning systems with significant computational resources to apply customized quantities of pesticide, seeds, and fertilizer according to a particular field’s specific needs.

This project uses data from Geographic Information Systems and from moisture sensors connected to farm machinery and inserted into the soil to help farmers adjust the amount of pesticide and fertilizer applied to their fields. The process provides data that can help farmers eliminate unnecessary and costly pesticide and fertilizer applications. Additional sensors planned for the project will measure soil properties such as acidity, nutrient levels and crop conditions.

The project, a collaboration with the NC State University department of soil science, addresses several issues of interest to 21st century agriculture:

  • How to collect, manage and utilize the growing amount of agricultural data collected by environmental sensors;
  • How to translate these new data collection and analysis techniques into practices that can help farmers grow better and safer crops more cost effectively; and
  • How to use sensor technology and computational science to help agricultural scientists and farmers understand the interrelationships among the physical, chemical, and biological soil characteristics and the processes related to soil quality, especially water, nutrients and environment health.

Precision agriculture can have a positive impact on environmental quality. The opportunity exists to show producers how changing agriculture management practices will not place crops at risk and produce positive economic and environmental benefits.

Project Team

  • Jeff Heard
  • Steve Chall
  • Theresa-Marie Rhyne


Jeff White, Ph.D., assistant professor, NC State University department of soil science


Precision Agriculture