Sponsoring Institution
State Agricultural Experiment Station
Project Status
Funding Source
Reporting Frequency
Accession No.
Grant No.
Project No.
Proposal No.
Multistate No.
Program Code
Project Start Date
Jul 1, 1999
Project End Date
Jun 30, 2003
Grant Year
Project Director
Pierce, F. J.
Recipient Organization
Performing Department
Non Technical Summary
Agricultural technology and management systems are not taking advantage of advances in computerization that could make agriculture much more precise. The purpose of this project is to develop and to implement technological innovations and management strategies that will enhance agricultural production through the application of modern technology. The project will improve food production while protecting quality, enhancing the environment, and improving the agricultural economy.
Animal Health Component
Research Effort Categories

Knowledge Area (KA)Subject of Investigation (SOI)Field of Science (FOS)Percent
Goals / Objectives
The long-term objective of this research is to create practical technologies and management systems for precision agriculture that: (a) support competitive production of Washington's agricultural commodities, (b) stimulate the state's economic development, and (c) protect the region's environment and natural resources.
Project Methods
Multi-disciplinary research teams will be formed to address high-priority needs of precision agriculture--seeking technologies that enhance agricultural production and profitability while protecting the environment and food quality. Stakeholders will help identify needs, establish priorities, locate and leverage resources, and cooperate to develop viable comprehensive solutions. Research teams will seek basic knowledge of phenomena underlying precision agricultural practices and develop or identify sensors to detect and measure related conditions. System models (e.g., plant status-yield-profitability-impact models) will be developed to integrate crucial elements of the targeted system so that prediction and control of conditions will be possible. These model s will enable development of controls systems, applicators, and decision-making methods that enable producers, processors, and others to precisely manage plant or animal systems. Results will be: higher quality food, reduced use of fertilizers and pesticides, decreased runoff and nutrient/chemical transport, reduced food production costs, and economic development around new precision agriculture technologies.

Progress 07/01/99 to 06/30/03

The Center for Precision Agricultural Systems (CPAS) completed its third full year in 2002. During this year Dr. Fran Pierce continued development of the Technology Roadmap for Tree Fruit Production, working with the WA Tree Fruit Research commission and USDA-ARS to expand the program nationally. CPAS staff (Fran Pierce and Eileen Perry) worked collaboratively with WSU faculty to successfully obtain several new projects. These include a major research project with the WA Tree Fruit Research Commission to develop precision agricultural technology for tree fruit, two projects with WSU-Wenatchee to develop automated insect traps (funded by EPA and WA Tree Fruit), and a Water Resource Center grant for precision irrigation. Work continued in collaboration with Univ. of FL in developing precision agricultural management for tree fruit. CPAS staff successfully developed, demonstrated and implemented a frost monitoring system, based on the WSU-CPAS sensor web technology. This technology was successfully demonstrated during the spring frost season in a commercial orchard. The grower enthusiastically endorses the technology and WSU-CPAS is working with WSU Research Foundation to commercialize this technology. New capability and expertise in hyperspectral remote sensing, GIS, and spatial statistics in support of agriculture was brought to WSU. In July 2002, Eileen Perry joined CPAS. Two spectral radiometers and a multispectral digital camera were acquired. During 2002 and 2003, CPAS has guided faculty and students in the use of remote sensing. For example, Eileen Perry worked with Ken Eastwell to provide high spatial accuracy imagery to detect a virus spreading through commercial cherry orchards, and a PhD student with Matt Whiting was trained in the data collection and analysis of spectral reflectance signatures for water stress in cherry. In April of 2003, a workshop on advanced statistical tools for large, spatial datasets was presented by Dr. Rick Rossi from ESRI. The workshop, which was attended by more than 20 WSU faculty and graduate students, was organized and funded by CPAS.

The major impacts of the research will be to make Washington State agriculture more competitive through improvements in crop quality and reduction of production costs. This will lead to increased competitiveness in global and domestic markets, which is critical to the survival of the industry. Other results that will support global competitiveness are crop traceability (particularly in light of homeland security threats) and reduction in any negative environmental impacts such as water quality or soil loss. This research also aims to remove or reduce barriers to use of precision agriculture (cost of technology, difficulty in use) especially in crops with limited use of precision agriculture, such as the tree fruit industry.


  • Perry, E.M., et al. Crop traceability and remote sensing in tree fruit. Presented at the SPIE Conference Aug 2003, San Diego CA and to be published in the proceedings.

Progress 01/01/01 to 12/31/01

The Center for Precision Agricultural Systems (CPAS) completed its second full year in 2001. Working with the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission and industry leaders, this group developed a technology roadmap for tree fruit production in the PNW that defined the research and development priorities needed to meet the vision of this industry to reduce the cost of production of the highest quality fruit by the year 2010. Continued efforts will focus on securing a long-term research funding in support of the technology roadmap. The CPAS sponsored the Fourth Western Precision Agriculture Conference in 2001 that included a day of workshops on the use of GPS and GIS in production agriculture. A computer classroom was established at WSU-Prosser to train agricultural professions and growers in GIS, GPS, and general techniques in spatial analysis. The computer laboratory consists of 20 PC computers with high speed internet access and 10 hand held computers to teach mobile computing. Research projects in precision agriculture were focused on a range of crops including wheat, grapes, tree fruit, potatoes, and irrigation. A team of researchers were successful in developing a system to estimate crop load in grapes by measuring the tension of the trellis wire. New funding was obtained in collaboration with researchers in Florida and Oregon to develop precision agricultural systems for tree fruit. High quality, affordable data loggers with telemetry capability have been designed to create site-specific weather networks that will improve pest and frost forecasting at the subfield level and improve irrigation scheduling to advance the WSU Public Agricultural Weather System (PAWS). Preliminary research evaluated spatial variability in wheat protein and a commercial wheat quality monitor. Research was initiated in fall 2001 to develop an instrumented linear move irrigation system as part of field laboratory to advance technological innovation in irrigated crops with a focus on potato cropping systems. These research projects and funding structures initiated in 2001 all support the mission of CPAS to advance the science and practice of precision agriculture in Washington State and beyond.

First draft of technology roadmap was completed in December, 2001 and is fully supported by the tree fruit industry and represents a long-term commitment to technological innovation in tree fruit production. The trellis load monitoring system could revolutionize crop estimation in grapes and in principle will work well in tree fruit. New telemetry based weather stations will reinvent the WSU PAWS weather network and provide a data gathering network in support of precision agriculture.


  • No publications reported this period

Progress 01/01/00 to 12/31/00

Funding from the Washington State Legislature enabled Washington State University to increase its focus on Precision Agriculture. During 2000, the Center for Precision Agricultural Systems was officially established at WSU when the required administrative action was completed in early spring 2000. After a national search, Dr. Francis J. Pierce was hired as Center Director, assuming his duties in the fall of 2000. He established the Center offices at the Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center in Prosser, WA, where irrigated agriculture accounts for 70% of the Washington State's agricultural value of production. As the new Center Director, his initial efforts in the fall of 2000 were focused on the development of collaborative relationships with other researchers and with both agricultural and non-agricultural industries and organizations both within WA and internationally. Funding from the Center was used to sponsor a range of research and education efforts in precision agriculture during the past year including projects focused on: precision wheat management in the Palouse region of Washington; advancing the use of crop models in precision agriculture; development of statistical methods of analysis of yield maps and site-specific experiments in potato based cropping systems; the development of formal coursework on precision agriculture in the Biosystems Engineering Department; and the development of a multi-environment field laboratory for research and development of precision agricultural technologies and practices for irrigated agriculture. The Center hosted the Third Western Precision Agriculture Conference in February, 2000, that attracted 300 participants and over 20 vendors, and organized the Fourth conference to be held in early 2001. The first annual report on the Center was successfully presented to the Washington State Legislature in September, 2000. A case study on precision agriculture was presented to the World Resources Institute International Conference on Creating Digital Dividends in October, 2000. Efforts in 2001 will be to pursue the mission of the Center to advance the science and practice of precision agriculture in Washington agriculture and beyond.

A desired outcome of the Center is to position precision agricultural technologies and principles into the mainstream of agricultural production. With the arrival of Dr. Pierce as the Center Director and the establishment of the Center in the heart of irrigated agriculture in the Pacific Northwest this past fall, Washington State University is now poised to advance the science and practice of precision agriculture in Washington agriculture and beyond.


  • Pierce, F.J. 2000. Precision agriculture for grapes. WA State Grape Society Ann. Mtg. November 16-17, Grandview, WA.
  • Pierce, F.J., and M. Vanacht. 2000. Precision Agriculture. A Case Study. Creating Digital Dividends Conference,

Progress 01/01/99 to 12/31/99

Assisted in acquiring legislative funding for Advanced Technology Initiative (esp., Precision Agriculture cluster). Organized and conducted planning meetings to define mission, name, and goals for WSU precision agriculture effort. As interim director (fall 1999), providing leadership for establishment of WSU Center for Precision Agricultural Systems-- revised and submitted proposal to Faculty Senate. Drafted a brochure for the Center. Led research reporting meeting; overseeing proposal review process for FY 2000 project funding. Representing WSU Precision Agriculture efforts to outside constituencies (e.g., Motorola, US Department of Energy, NCR-180 Committee). Participated in planning for 3rd Western Precision Agriculture Conference (Feb. 15-16, 2000). Appointed committee to search for permanent Center Director. Collaborate with UW Precision Forestry initiative. Communicate monthly through Precision Agriculture Update listserve newsletter.



  • No publications reported this period