Understanding farmer views of precision agriculture profitability in the U.S. Midwest

Tong Wang, Hailong Jin, Heidi Sieverding, Sandeep Kumar, Yuxin Miao, Xudong Rao, Oladipo Obembe, Ali Mirzakhani Nafchi, Daren Redfearn, Stephen Cheye

Research output: Contribution to journalShort surveypeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Precision Agriculture (PA) technologies are well known to be useful in addressing field heterogeneities and enabling informed site-specific management decisions. While profitability is the foremost factor considered by farmers when making PA adoption decisions, information in this regard is lacking from the farmers' perspective. This paper analyzed 1119 farmer responses from a 2021 survey conducted in four states along the western margins of the U.S. Midwest. Our findings show that while most (around 60%) non-adopters indicate that they are unaware of PA profit change, adopters are likely to rate a major profit increase. About two thirds of adopters rated at least a 5% increase in profitability towards variable rate (VR) fertilizer application (72%), VR seed application (68%), and automatic section control (66%). We modeled farmers' profit change subsequent to PA adoptions. Our regression results demonstrate that the profits from PA usage increase over time and that use of conservation practices likely influences PA profitability in a positive way. As soil quality and weather factors also affect profit ratings, it would be beneficial to compare and demonstrate profitability potential of various PA technologies on a regional basis and tailor the promotion efforts to farmers most likely to benefit from them.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number107950
JournalEcological Economics
StatePublished - Nov 2023


  • Adoption
  • Conservation practices
  • Farm survey
  • Precision agriculture
  • Profit change
  • Soil quality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science
  • Economics and Econometrics


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