Site Specific Management: The Pros, the Cons, and the Realities
Site specific management (SSM) for agriculture involves the variable management of soils and crops according to localized conditions within a field. Known by many other names, such as "Grid Farming", "Farming by Soils" or "Variable Rate Technology (VRT), SSM is a rapidly emerging set of technologies that allow farmers to manage their soils and crops on-the-go as equipment moves across a field. In essence, SSM is about doing the right thing, at the right time, in the right place, in the right way. Thus, SSM is intuitively appealing because it represents a means of improving the economic and environmental performance of cropping systems. However, while proponents of SSM will endorse its great potential, the fact is that SSM is an emerging technology that is best described as still in its infancy. Thus, at this stage in its development, SSM has its strengths (Pros) and its weaknesses (Cons) which in combination clearly define the current status of SSM for agriculture (Realities). What follows is a brief overview describing some essential elements of SSM and the degree to which these elements have or have not been developed.