|Subject||Long-run comparative statics|
|Topic||Production and costs|
|Key Words||Technology, costs, markets, prices|
The latest in agricultural technology is a GPS-guided tractor. A receiver on the tractor picks up signals from the Global Positioning System, a satellite-based electronic tracking system used for navigation, and a base station in order to pinpoint the tractor's position to within an inch.
The system allows farmers to plant straight rows of crops close to irrigation lines, and apply fertilizers and chemicals only where they are needed. The driver has only to turn the tractor at the end of each row, then the system takes over. It works day and night, regardless of weather.
Yields should increase as the placing and spacing of rows should be optimized. Costs should decrease as the tractors can run all the time, and water and chemicals are not wasted. These factors help to justify the $50,000 cost of the GPS system. It may also help farmers compete in markets where prices are low, such as in cotton.
(Updated November 1, 2001)
|Source||Barbara Kiviat, "Tractors go high-tech," The Arizona Republic, October 18, 2001.|
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