Friday, February 20, 2015

UI Extension Offers Precision Ag Seminar at Boise Library Feb. 24

University of Idaho press release, by William Loftus. 

Thursday, February 19

BOISE, Idaho – Feb. 19, 2015 – A free seminar focused on precision agriculture and technologies to help farmers use water and fertilizer more efficiently is planned Feb. 24 at the Boise Public Library.
Sponsored by University of Idaho Extension, the seminar is free and open to the public. It will run from noon to 5:40 p.m. in the library’s William F. Hayes Memorial Auditorium.

UI Extension cropping systems agronomist Olga Walsh organized the seminar to give growers updates on new ways to improve water and nutrient use efficiency to save money and make their operations more sustainable.

Walsh is based at the Parma Research and Extension Center operated by the UI College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. She began work there last September as part of the college’s statewide investment in positions focused on agronomy, the science of crop production.

Farmers have been quick to embrace some precision agricultural technologies like adding GPS and automatic-steering technology to their equipment, Walsh said. The next steps will be a more widespread use of technologies to improve water and fertilizer use efficiency.

“As the cost of food production and the pressure to produce food sustainably increases – so does the interest and involvement of crop producers in precision agriculture and sustainable crop production practices,” Walsh said.

Some mint growers, for example, report that they have successfully cut water usage by half while maintaining or even improving yields, Walsh said. Similarly, farmers growing hops, seed crops and grapes have been among those who have explored or adopted precision ag.

Seminar speakers from Idaho, Montana and Oklahoma will explore topics ranging from an overview of ways precision agricultural technologies can improve water use efficiency to uses of unmanned aerial systems, which are better known as drones.

Other speakers will focus on precision irrigation in wine grapes, sensors and reference strips to promote efficiency, remote sensing methods for nutrient management and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service precision ag programs.

Walsh manages the Idaho Crops and Soils blog dedicated to sustainable and efficient crop production practices. The blog answers common grower questions and provides research updates and information about educational events. It is online at

More information about precision agriculture and the seminar is available by contacting Walsh at the Parma Research and Extension Center at 722-6701, ext. 218, or

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