Precision Farming: Ancient Practice Gets Ultramodern Boost


“Peanut farmer Richard Barber, 71, said he recalled when his Romeo neighbors were suspicious of a new technology that could make the days of mule-led agriculture a thing of the past.

“The tractor, that “new” technology, is what brought modern, industrial agriculture to reality, though it is just one tool that Barber and farmers like him use to make agriculture as efficient and precise as possible.

“”It’s a long way from mule farming to GPS farming,” said Barber, who uses a $70,000-plus global positioning system for his two auto-steering tractors. The GPS communicates a signal to a receiver on Barber’s farm, a communication between the two devices that keeps the tractor driving in a straight line, managing a land with hilly, sandy plots. Creating straighter lines translates into more space to grow peanuts, increasing profit and minimizing the need for human labor.”

NASA Seeks Ideas for New Prize Challenges

nasa-largeThe Innovative Partnerships Program at NASA Headquarters in Washington is offering an opportunity for the public to help shape the prize challenges the agency offers to America’s future citizen-inventors.

For the next six weeks, ideas for new Centennial Challenge prize competitions may be proposed for NASA’s consideration. Creative ideas are sought from industry, colleges, universities, private organizations and the public. The ideas will be posted on the NASA Web site to stimulate additional creativity. Some selected proposals may be formulated into future prize competitions starting in 2010, pending availability of prize purse funding.

Centennial Challenges is NASA’s program to award cash prizes to independent inventors for significant advances in technologies of interest to NASA and the nation. The program encourages innovation throughout the private sector, including small businesses, college/university teams and individuals. The program seeks creative solutions from diverse and unconventional sources.

Centennial Challenges address robotic lunar excavation, super-efficient aircraft, reusable rocket-powered vehicles, wireless power transmission, super-strength materials and improved astronaut gloves. Ideas must be received by Sunday, Nov. 8, 2009, for this round of consideration. For instructions about how to submit ideas, visit:

Questions and comments may be sent to:

For more information about the Centennial Challenges program, visit:

[Source: NASA press release]