The value of conducting on-farm field trials using precision agriculture technology: a theory and simulations

David S. Bullock, Taro Mieno, Jaeseok Hwang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The objectives of this article are to examine the practicality of on-farm precision experiments to sufficiently lower the costs of acquiring the information necessary to make site-specific nitrogen (N) fertilizer management profitable, and to examine the potential value of on-farm precision experiments in uniform rate N fertilizer management. After presenting a simple economic model as theoretical background, two hypotheses are tested. Hypothesis 1 is that if on-farm precision experiments are conducted over sufficiently many growing seasons on a “flat and black” central Illinois cornfield, the information gained can be used to make site-specific N application management more profitable than uniform rate N application management. Hypothesis 2 is that conducting on-farm precision experiments on that field for only a few years will provide information that can increase profits for a farmer who otherwise would follow the N application rate recommendation of the Maximum Return to Nitrogen project. Monte Carlo simulations rejected Hypothesis 1, but failed to reject Hypothesis 2. On the modeled central Illinois field, which was characterized by relatively little spatial heterogeneity, even fifteen years of on-farm precision experiments did not provide enough information to make using site-specific N management profitable. But the information gleaned from just a few years of on-farm precision experiments provided very profitable information to improve spatially uniform N rate management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1027-1044
Number of pages18
JournalPrecision Agriculture
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2020


  • Nitrogen management
  • On-farm precision experiments
  • Value of information

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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