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Geospatial Applications in Production Agriculture

April 07, 2015
4:00 pm - 5:00 pm

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Dr. Alex Thomasson
Department of Biological & Agricultural Engineering, Texas A&M University



Old McDonald may have had a farm, but young McDonald is using technologies that his forebear could only dream about. Many of these technologies focus on variability in the geospatial sense. Whereas site-­specific techniques were formerly employed rather artistically, they are now applied in a scientifically rigorous fashion with automated computer-­based machines. The terms, “geospatial” and “production agriculture,” will be defined in this talk in relation to one another with pertinent examples. Practical circumstances and constraints of geospatial applications in production agriculture will be discussed, including spatial variability at field scale and spatial resolution of measurements and field machines. Finally, the current state of affairs in what has come to be known as “precision agriculture” – one of the biggest technological advances in agriculture in the last 20 years – will be covered along with the level of development of (1) various technologies such as optoelectronic sensors and real­‐time variable­‐rate control systems and (2) applications like variable seed spacing and fertilizer application. The burgeoning interest in unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for remote sensing and potentially robotic field work will be included among several of the latest exciting innovations.


Alex Thomasson is a Professor in the Department of Biological & Agricultural Engineering at Texas A&M University where he teaches courses in Measurement and Control and Machine Design to undergraduates as well as Optoelectronic Sensor Design to graduate students. He has conducted research in remote sensing since the late 1980s and in optoelectronic sensor development since the early 1990s. He began applying these technologies to the field of precision agriculture in the late 1990s. Dr. Thomasson earned B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in Agricultural Engineering at Texas Tech University, Louisiana State University, and University of Kentucky, respectively. He started his career as a research engineer with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (1989-­‐1997), and he has been a faculty member at Mississippi State University (1997-­‐2004), where he developed and operated the Precision-­‐Agriculture/ Remote-­‐Sensing Engineering Laboratory (PARSEL), and Texas A&M University (2005-­‐present), where he developed and operates the Biological Engineering Sensor Technologies Laboratory (BEST Lab). Most of his career has involved developing solutions and innovations for cotton production and processing, but he has worked in other crops as well. In addition to precision agriculture, Dr. Thomasson has conducted research in the fields of bioenergy, identity preservation in bulk grains, and culturally appropriate mechanization for small farmers in developing nations.


April 7, 2015
4:00 pm - 5:00 pm


Rudder Tower, Room 301