Precision Agriculture definitions

On this page you will find the official definition of Precision Agriculture of the International Society of Precision Agriculture - ISPA, its official translations into Catalan, Spanish, Basque and Galician, as well as a collection of historical definitions of Precision Agriculture. The GRAP played an active role in the definition creation, having received the mission of coordinating the whole process from ISPA. Once the official definition was approved, the ISPA also invited the GRAP to coordinate the development of the official translations into Catalan, Spanish, Basque and Galician.

The official definition of Precision Agriculture adopted by the International Society for Precision Agriculture in July 2019 is as follows:

Precision Agriculture is a management strategy that gathers, processes and analyzes temporal, spatial and individual data and combines it with other information to support management decisions according to estimated variability for improved resource use efficiency, productivity, quality, profitability and sustainability of agricultural production.


The official translation into Català is as follows (April 2020):

L’Agricultura de Precisió és una estratègia de maneig que recull, processa i analitza dades temporals, espacials i individuals i les combina amb altres informacions per a recolzar decisions de maneig d’acord amb la variabilitat estimada per tal de millorar l’eficiència d’ús dels recursos, la productivitat, la qualitat, la rendibilitat i la sostenibilitat de la producció agrícola.


And the official translations into Castellano, Euskera and Galego (April 2020):

La Agricultura de Precisión es una estrategia de gestión que recoge, procesa y analiza datos temporales, espaciales e individuales y los combina con otras informaciones para respaldar las decisiones de manejo de acuerdo con la variabilidad estimada, y así mejorar la eficiencia en el uso de recursos, la productividad, la calidad, la rentabilidad y la sostenibilidad de la producción agrícola.


Zehaztasun-Nekazaritza, denbora, espazioa eta banakako datuak bildu, prozesatu eta aztertzen dituen estrategia bat da, zein beste arlo batzuetako informazioarekin konbinatuz, estimatutako aldakortasunaren araberako maneiu erabakiak hartzen laguntzen duen, eta nekazaritza-produkzioaren baliabideen erabileraren efizientzia, produktibitatea, kalitatea, errentagarritasuna eta jasangarritasuna hobetzen dituen.


A Agricultura de Precisión é unha estratexia de xestión que recompila, procesa e analiza datos temporais, espaciais e individuais e combínaos con outra información para apoiar ás decisións de xestión dacordo a variabilidade estimada para mellorar a eficiencia no uso dos recursos, a produtividade, a calidade, a rendibilidade e a sostibilidade da produción agrícola.


Below, there is a list of former historical Precision Agriculture definitions from the scientific literature an internet:







Pierce et al.

The intent of precision agriculture is to match agricultural inputs and practices to localized conditions within a field to do the right thing, in the right place, at the right time, and in the right way (Pierce et al., 1994)

Pierce, F. J., Robert, P. C. and Mangold, G. 1994. Site-specific management: The pros, the cons, and the realities. In "Proceedings of the International Crop Management Conference, Iowa State University," pp. 17-21. Iowa State Univ. Press, Ames.



Robert, Rust & Larson.

There is no broadly accepted definition of SSCM. We proposed the following:

Site-specific crop management is an information and technology based agricultural management system to identify, analyze, and manage site-soil spatial and temporal variability within fields for optimum profitability, sustainability, and protection of the environment.

Robert P, Rust R, Larson W (1994) Site-specific Management for Agricultural Systems, Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference on Precision Agriculture, 1994, Madison, WI. ASA/CSSA/SSSA.


Robert et al.

the Right time, the Right amount and the Right place

Robert P, Rust R, Larson W (1994) Site-specific Management for Agricultural Systems, Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference on Precision Agriculture, 1994, Madison, WI. ASA/CSSA/SSSA.


Stafford, John V

The targeting of inputs to arable crop production according to crop requirement on a localized basis.

Stafford, J. V. 1996. Essential technology for precision agriculture. In P. C. Robert, R. H. Rust, & W. E. Larson (Eds.), Precision Agriculture. Proceedings of the third International Conference on Precision Agriculture (Vol. Minneapolis, pp. 595–604). USA: American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society or America, Soil Science Society of America.



Careful tailoring of soil and crop management to fit the different conditions found in each field.

Johansen, CJ (1996) Overview of precision farming, Proceedings of Information Ag Conference, 1996, Champaign, IL.



Information gathering, management planning, and field operations that improve the understanding and management of soil and landscape resources so the cropping inputs of management practices are utilized more efficiently than with conventional “one-fits-all” strategies.

Kitchen NR, Sudduth KA, Birrel SJ, Borgelt SC (1996) Missourei precision agriculture research and education, Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference of Precision Agriculture, 1996, Madison, WI. ASA/CSSA/SSSA.


The National Research Council

Precision agriculture is a management strategy that uses information technologies to bring data from multiple sources to bear on decisions associated with crop production.

National Research Council. (1997). Precision Agriculture in the 21st Century: Geospatial and Information Technologies in Crop Management. Washington, D.C., USA: National Academy Press.


Pierce & Sadler

Site-specific management (SSM) for agriculture is the management of soils and crops according to localized conditions within a field.

Pierce, F. J., & Sadler, E. J. (1997). The State of Site-Specific Management for Agriculture. (F. J. Pierce & E. J. Sadler, Eds.)The State of Site-Specific Management for Agriculture. American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Soil Science Society of America.


Lowenberg-DeBoer, J., & Swinton, S. M.

The SSM is information technology applied to agriculture. Technically, SSM is similar to spatial information technology being developed for many other sectors of the U.S. economy (e.g. vehicle tracking, surveying, navigation, forestry management). For this chapter, the working definition of SSM is electronic monitoring and control applied to data collection, information processing and decision support for the temporal and spatial allocation of inputs for crop production. This technology is known by many names, including: precision agriculture, site-specific farming, prescription farming and variable rate technology (VRT). This chapter focuses on applications to agronomic crops, but many of the same arguments could be referred to horticultural crops and to the electronic tagging of livestock.

Lowenberg-DeBoer, J., & Swinton, S. M. (1997). Economics of Site-Specific management in agronomic crops. In F. J. Pierce & E. J. Sadler (Eds.), The State of Site Specific Management for Agriculture. American Society of Agronomy; Crop Science Society of America; Soil Science Society of America;


Olson, Kent

Precision agriculture is the application of a holistic management strategy that uses information technology to bring data from multiple sources to bear on decisions associated with agricultural production, marketing, finance, and personnel.

Olson, K. 1998. Precision agriculture: current economic and environmental issues, p. 213–220. In: T. Tempesta and M. Thiene (eds.). Sixth Joint Conf. Food, Agr., and the Environ. 31 Aug.–2 Sept. 1998. Univ. Minn., St. Paul.


Pierce & Nowak

Precision agriculture is the application of technologies and principles to manage spatial and temporal variability associated with all aspects of agricultural production for the purpose of improving crop performance and environmental quality.

Pierce, F. J. & Nowak, P. 1999. Aspects of Precision Agriculture. In D. L. Sparks (Ed.), Advances in Agronomy (Vol. 67, pp. 1–85). Academic Press.


McBratney & Taylor

Simplified, PA is the use of new information technologies together with agronomic experience to site-specifically: i) maximize production efficiency ii) maximize quality iii) minimize environmental impact iv) minimize risk.

McBratney, A. B., & Taylor, J. A. 2000. PV or not PV? In 5th International Symposium on Cool Climate Viticulture and Oenology- a workshop on Precision Management (Vol. Melbourne,). Melbourne, Australia.


Robert, P. C.

It (PA) has been defined in many ways but basically it is information technology. PA is not just the injection of new technologies but it is rather an information revolution, made possible by new technologies that result in a higher level, a more precise farm management system.

Robert, P. C. (2000). Site-specific Management for the Twenty-first Century. HortTechnology, 10(3), 444–447. Retrieved from


Whelan & McBratney

Precision agriculture PA should be considered as a philosophical shift in the management of variability within agricultural industries. It must be aimed at improving profitability and/or environmental impact both short and long term. As with all such endeavors to further knowledge in science-based disciplines, the concepts and acceptance of the PA philosophy will ultimately rest on the successful completion of scientific experimentation and assessment.

As one form of PA, Site-Specific Crop Management SSCM can be defined as:

‘‘Matching resource application and agronomic practices with soil and crop requirements as they vary in space and time within a field.’’

Whelan, B. M., & McBratney, A. B. (2000). The “Null Hypothesis” of Precision Agriculture Management. Precision Agriculture, 2(3), 265–279.


McBratney & Whelan

Precision Agriculture may be defined as:

Observation, impact assessment and timely strategic response to fine-scale variation in causative components of an agricultural production process.

Much of the current research and applications is focused on applying Precision Agriculture to field-crop production. The term Site-Specific Crop Management (SSCM) describes this facet of Precision Agriculture. SSCM may be defined as: Matching resource application and agronomic practices with soil attributes and crop requirements as they vary across a field.

McBratney, A. B., & Whelan, B. (2001). Precision Ag. - Oz style. In First Australian Geospatial Information and Agriculture Conference (Vol. Sydney, Au, pp. 274–282). NSW Agriculture.


Plant, R.E.

Site-specific management (SSM; also called, precision agriculture) is the management of agricultural crops at a spatial scale smaller than that of the whole field.

Plant, R. E. (2001). Site-specific management: the application of information technology to crop production. Computers and Electronics in Agriculture, 30(1–3), 9–29.


US Code, House of Representatives

§ 7623. Precision agriculture

(a) Definitions

(1) Agricultural inputs

The term ‘‘agricultural inputs’’ includes all farm management, agronomic, and field-applied agricultural production inputs, such as machinery, labor, time, fuel, irrigation water, commercial nutrients, feed stuffs, veterinary drugs and vaccines, livestock waste, crop protection chemicals, agronomic data and information, application and management services, seed, and other inputs used in agricultural production.

(3) Precision agriculture

The term ‘‘precision agriculture’’ means an integrated information- and production-based farming system that is designed to increase long-term, site-specific, and whole farm Production efficiencies, productivity, and profitability while minimizing unintended impacts on wildlife and the environment by—

(A) combining agricultural sciences, agricultural inputs and practices, agronomic production databases, and precision agriculture technologies to efficiently manage agronomic, horticultural, and livestock production systems;

(B) gathering on-farm information pertaining to the variation and interaction of site-specific spatial and temporal factors affecting crop and livestock production;

(C) integrating such information with appropriate data derived from field scouting, remote sensing, and other precision agriculture technologies in a timely manner in order to facilitate on-farm decision making;

(D) using such information to prescribe and deliver site-specific application of agricultural inputs and management practices in agricultural production systems; or

(E) using such information to enable intelligent mechanized harvesting and sorting systems for horticultural crops.

(4) Precision agriculture technologies

The term ‘‘precision agriculture technologies’’ includes—

(A) instrumentation and techniques ranging from sophisticated sensors and software systems to manual sampling and data collection tools that measure, record, and manage spatial and temporal data;

(B) technologies for searching out and assembling information necessary for sound agricultural production decision making;

(C) open systems technologies for data networking and processing that produce valued systems for farm management decision making;

(D) machines that deliver information based management practices; or

(E) robotic and other intelligent machines for use in horticultural cropping systems.’

U S House of representatives. (2002). US code Title 7-Agriculture. Chapter 103-Agricultural research, extension, and education reform. Subchapter II-New agricultural research, extension, and education initiatives. Section 7623. (a) Definitions. Washington, USA: US.


Dobermann et al.

Precision farming is a systems approach to managing soils and crops to reduce decision uncertainty through better understanding and management of spatial and temporal variability.

Dobermann, A., Blackmore, B. S., Cook, S., & Adamchuk, V. I. (2004). Precision farming: challenges and future directions. In New Directions for a Diverse Planet. Proceeding of 4th International Crop Sci. Congr. (pp. 1–19).


McBratney, Whelan, Ancev & Bouma

One generic definition could be ‘‘that kind of agriculture that increases the number of (correct) decisions per unit area of land per unit time with associated net benefits’’.

McBratney, A. B., Whelan, B., Ancev, T., & Bouma, J. (2005). Future Directions of Precision Agriculture. Precision Agriculture, 6(1), 7–23.


Taylor & Whelan

To further expand the concept, SSCM can be considered as the application of

information technologies, together with production experience, to:

i) optimize production efficiency

ii) optimize quality

iii) minimize environmental impact

iv) minimize risk

- all at the site-specific level.

Australian Centre for Precision Agriculture



Holistic and environmentally friendly strategy in which farmers can vary input use and cultivation methods – including application of seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, and water, variety selection, planting, tillage, harvesting – to match varying soil and crop conditions across a field.

Various. (2006). Handbook of Precision Agriculture. Principles and Applications. (A. Srinivasan, Ed.). binghamton, NY, USA: Food products press.



Site-Specific Crop Management (SSCM) is “A form of PA whereby decisions on resource application and crop management practices are improved to better match soil and crop requirements as they vary in the field”

Whelan, B. (2007). Current status and future directions of PA in Australia. In 2nd Asian Conference on Precision Agriculture (Vol. Pyeongtaek, pp. 60–71).



(Applying inputs at the) Right time, the Right amount and the Right place (Robert, 1994). Later, the International Plant Nutrition Institute added another “R” to that list, “the Right Source”, and more recently, Khosla (2008) proposed an additional “R”, the Right manner.

Khosla R (2008) The 9th International Conference on Precision Agriculture opening ceremony presentation. July 20-23rd, 2008.


Adamchuk & Gebbers

Precision agriculture, or information-based management of agricultural production systems

Gebbers, R., & Adamchuk, V. I. (2010). Precision agriculture and food security. Science, 327, 828–831.

2012 (last update)

University of Sidney, Precision Agriculture Laboratory

What is precision agriculture?

Precision agriculture involves the observation, impact assessment and timely strategic response to fine-scale variation in causative components of an agricultural production process.

Therefore, precision agriculture may cover a range of agricultural enterprises, from dairy herd management through horticulture to field crop production. The philosophy can be also applied to pre- and post-production aspects of agricultural enterprises. With this definition in mind, the Precision Agriculture Laboratory is presently focused on applying precision agriculture to field crop production. The term 'site-specific management' (SSCM) describes this facet of precision agriculture.

What is site-specific crop management?

Site-specific crop management is a form of precision agriculture whereby decisions on resource application and agronomic practices are improved to better match soil and crop requirements as they vary in a field.

Collectively these actions are referred to as the 'differential' treatment of field variation as opposed to the 'uniform' treatment that underlies traditional management systems.


Wikipedia – English

Precision farming or precision agriculture is a farming management concept based on observing and responding to intra-field variations. Today, precision agriculture is about whole farm management with the goal of optimizing returns on inputs while preserving resources.


Fountas, S., Aggelopoulou, K., & Gemtos, T. A

Precision Agriculture (PA) can be defined as the management of spatial and temporal variability in the fields using Information and Communications Technologies (ICT).

Fountas, S., Aggelopoulou, K., & Gemtos, T. A. (2016). Precision Agriculture. In Supply Chain Management for Sustainable Food Networks (pp. 41–65). Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.



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