Traditionally agriculture is practiced by performing a particular task, such as planting or harvesting, against a predetermined schedule. But by collecting real-time data on weather, soil and air quality, crop maturity and even equipment and labor costs and availability, predictive analytics can be used to make smarter decisions. This is known as precision agriculture.

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Growers have long recognized within-field variability in potential productivity. Now, at the beginning of the 21st Century, they are seeking new ways to exploit that variability. In the process, they are discovering they need more information on soil and plant conditions than was required a decade ago. Not only does this information need to be accurate and consistent across their farm and from year to year, it must also be available at temporal and spatial scales that match rapidly evolving capabilities to vary cultural procedures, irrigations, and agrochemical inputs