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Open AccessArticle

Can Precision Agriculture Increase the Profitability and Sustainability of the Production of Potatoes and Olives?

Agrosystems Research, Wageningen University & Research, P.O. Box 16, 6700 AA Wageningen, The Netherlands
Farming Systems Ecology, Wageningen University & Research, P.O. Box 430, 6700 AK Wageningen, The Netherlands
Natural Resources Management and Agricultural Engineering, Agricultural University of Athens, 11855 Athens, Greece
Team Applied Research, Aeres University of Applied Sciences, De Drieslag 4, 8251 JZ Dronten, The Netherlands
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2017, 9(10), 1863;
Received: 24 September 2017 / Revised: 10 October 2017 / Accepted: 13 October 2017 / Published: 17 October 2017
For farmers, the application of Precision Agriculture (PA) technology is expected to lead to an increase in profitability. For society, PA is expected to lead to increased sustainability. The objective of this paper is to determine for a number of common PA practices how much they increase profitability and sustainability. For potato production in The Netherlands, we considered variable rate application (VRA) of soil herbicide, fungicide for late blight control, sidedress N, and haulm killing herbicide. For olive production in Greece, we considered spatially variable application of P and K fertilizer and lime. For each of the above scenarios, we quantified the value of outputs, the cost of inputs, and the environmental costs. This allowed us to calculate profit as well as social profit, where the latter is defined as revenues minus conventional costs minus the external costs of production. Social profit can be considered an overall measure of sustainability. Our calculations show that PA in potatoes increases profit by 21% (420 € ha−1) and social profit by 26%. In olives, VRA application of P, K, and lime leads to a strong reduction in nutrient use and although this leads to an increase in sustainability, it has only a small effect on profit and on social profit. In conclusion, PA increases sustainability in olives and both profitability and sustainability in potatoes. View Full-Text
Keywords: potato; olive; social profit; variable rate application potato; olive; social profit; variable rate application
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Van Evert, F.K.; Gaitán-Cremaschi, D.; Fountas, S.; Kempenaar, C. Can Precision Agriculture Increase the Profitability and Sustainability of the Production of Potatoes and Olives? Sustainability 2017, 9, 1863.

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