Hans-Werner Griepentrog, B.S. Blackmore:
Sustainable Agriculture and Precision Farming in Developing Countries


The Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University, Deptartment of Agricultural Sciences, Danmark

Sustainable agriculture in the context of development efforts has to meet production efficiency, sensitivity of ecosystems, appropriate technology, maintenance of the environment, cultural diversity and satisfaction of the basic needs. The green revolution increased significantly the productivity in developing countries, but it had also several negative ecological consequences such as depletion of lands, decline soil fertility, soil salinisation, soil erosion, deterioration of environment, health hazards, poor sustainability of agricultural lands and degradation of biodiversity. Today agricultural research seeks new management strategies and technologies to reorient the current and future needs and constraints. The new options should be productive and cost-effective, but furthermore must be particularly ecologically sustainable.

Precision Farming identifies the critical factors in production systems by determining the limiting and controllable components. The components often decrease yields and system efficiency because of their spatial variability. The variations occurring in crop or soil properties within a field are noted or measured and mapped. Management actions within PF are then taken as a consequence of this assessment of the spatial variability within that field. Development of geomatics technology in the later part of the 20th century has aided in the adoption of site-specific management systems using remote sensing, global positioning systems and geographical information system. This approach is also called sitespecific management. Sitespecific management of spatial variability of a farm is developed to optimise crop production and to minimise environmental pollution and degradation, leading to a more sustainable development in general. In the present context, maintenance of ecological balances through precise and site-specific management is highly desirable. The concept of Precision Farming may be appropriate to solve these problems, though it looks unsuitable to many local conditions. Agriculture in developing countries is often characterised by low usage and support for technologies. Precision Farming being a management approach not just a technology can equally be applied to developing countries as well as developed countries, but the implementation is different. If technology is needed they should be used to complement the traditional methods for enhancing productivity and quality, rather than to replace the local conventional methods.

Keywords: Acceptance, Adaptation, site specific management, Sustainability


Contact Address: Hans-Werner Griepentrog, The Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University, Deptartment of Agricultural SciencesHojbakkegaard Alle 2, DK -2630 Taastrup, Danmark, e-mail: hwg@kvl.dk
Andreas Deininger, September 2004