The Intelligent FarmTM will use computers, satellites, field sensors and cell towers to provide real-time information to improve decision-making and enhance farm prosperity, environmental sustainability and food security. The goal of the Intelligent FarmTM is to provide the latest tools to growers and consultants, such as Clemson Extension agents and specialists, who can make better-informed decisions about where and how much water and fertilizer are needed. Previous research on targeted applications has shown a 15 percent savings of water and a 25 percent energy savings, leading to increased farm profits. Nitrogen, an essential fertilizer, poses a special challenge. Industrially produced nitrogen fertilizer is costly to farmers and to the environment if overused. Sensor-based, site-specific application at variable rates can reduce nitrogen use by 47 percent — 75,200 tons — and save S.C. farmers $30 million, Intelligent FarmTM researchers say.
At the Edisto Research and Education Center in Blackville, agriculture engineer Ahmad Khalilian leads the Intelligent FarmTM project. A pioneer in Clemson’s precision agriculture program, Khalilian developed the concept of variable-rate nematicide application based on soil type. Using global positioning systems (GPS) linked to soil electrical-conductivity meters, the technology enables farmers to apply nematicides only where needed. The destructive microscopic worms cause more than $300 million in cotton crop losses each year.