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Abstract

Remote sensing is used in agriculture to guide application of fertilizer, pesticides and other farm inputs. Its application in agriculture is well documented. However, evidence of profitability to farmers remains fuzzy. The objective of this study is to summarize publicly available information on the economic benefits of remote sensing in agriculture. Out of the hundreds of agricultural remote sensing documents reviewed only a few reported economic benefit estimates. Many of those documents do not provide details on how the economic benefit was estimated. Clues in the reports and the fact that the numbers are often much larger than those for detailed studies suggest that the studies not reporting details are often reporting gross benefits without deducting the associated cost. Standardizing budgeting methods and using the reported changes in yield and input application in 12 studies, remote sensing is estimated to have the potential to improve average farm profits by about $31.74/ha Most of the studies based profit estimates on a single crop season of data. Key improvements needed for studies of the economics of remote sensing for field crops include: detailed reporting of budget assumptions, multiple year data sets in the same fields, and replication of studies of the same technology in different states.

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