Satellite Images

About the Images

The image of the horse was created by computer, using a global positioning system (G.P.S.) satellite. A satellite receiver was attached to an all terrain vehicle that proceeded to drive around the perimeter of the horse and the field. The resulting data provided the exact longitude and latitude of the image and generated a diagram of it. The grids were created by feeding typical fertility values for the area into the computer. The final image is the resulting variable application rate map generated from this data.


About the Global Positioning System (G.P.S.)

G.P.S. is satellite technology developed by the military to pinpoint the exact position of any point on the globe. This technology has recently been adapted for a number of civilian purposes such as navigation, safety (locators for wilderness adventurers), communications and precision farming.


About Precision Farming

Precision farming is a technique that uses G.P.S., grid mapping, soil sampling, yield monitors, and variable rate fertilizer and seeding technology to improve efficiency. A field is mapped out into smaller grids, and the fertility and yield from each grid are measured using G.P.S. and yield monitors. These grids can then be fertilized to their own requirements using equipment that varies the application rates of several different inputs to each grid, on the fly. Yields and fertility requirements can fluctuate widely across a field and by more closely matching inputs to needs, overall efficiency and hopefully profitability can be improved.

A few thoughts on Draft Horses and Precision Farming
by Roy Hickling

It is not so long ago that horses walked the fields of our working farms. Many men who are still farming or helping on their sons and grandsons' farms, started their careers working with horses. They can remember their horses' names and personalities, can recall the scents and sounds of horse and harness, stable and hay, and they know the pleasures and bone weariness of a hard days work. Fields were small and because farmers walked or rode over every inch they knew where the best crops were harvested and where a few extra forkfuls of manure were required. The sheer amount of physical labour required limited the size of operations and nurtured a close affinity with the land.

As agriculture became more mechanized, economies of scale and the use of large equipment caused the size of farm operations and their fields to grow. Most of the fence rows that framed fields were bulldozed out and with them went the ability to easily treat small portions of the farm differently. Precision farming with its complex technology seeks ironically, to return us to the days of smaller fields if not simpler times.

The desire to return to simpler times, or at least to view agriculture in that romanticized light, is part of what makes the image of a horse in harness such an evocative one. Joe's choice of this image is particularly appropriate for the IPM where you can see horses plowing against a backdrop of modern equipment. If you wish to get a sense of how farming has changed as this century comes to an end, then I suggest that you watch the faces of the men who can trace their earliest footsteps in the hoofprints of a horse.


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Copyright 1997, Peter Lee