. "4 Public Policy and Precision Agriculture." Precision Agriculture in the 21st Century: Geospatial and Information Technologies in Crop Management. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 1997.
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Precision Agriculture in the 21st Century: Geospatial and Information Technologies in Crop Management
communication with experts, such as crop monitoring or interpretations of field data. The Alliance on Agricultural Information Technology identified rural bandwidth, GPS differential correction, and digital orthophotography as key information technology components of precision agriculture that currently restrict its adoption (Alliance on Agricultural Information Technology, 1996). This information infrastructure is a significant focus of a Clinton administration initiative, the National Information Infrastructure Council and the related National Information Infrastructure Task Force. Although not specific to precision agriculture, these groups have provided a set of principles and recommendations that would result in significant improvement in data access for rural areas.
The components of an information infrastructure for precision agriculture include access to spatial technologies such as GPS and remotely sensed imagery, which will spill over into areas such as modernization of land records and land use planning. In much of the rural United States, local government land information systems are antiquated and unable to provide timely, reliable information for private or government land-related decision making. In some areas, precision agriculture will be a useful force in improving these systems, in addition to providing some of the automated data and spatial technologies that will be required.
CLARIFICATION OF INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS, DATA OWNERSHIP, AND DATA PRIVACY
Precision agriculture will require clarification of intellectual property, data ownership, and data privacy rights. The extension service should play a leadership role in providing education on existing law pertaining to these issues.
Intellectual property rights and data ownership are evolving areas of concern in terms of both information technologies and legislative and judicial activity. Precision agriculture raises some unique questions relative to data ownership because of the spatially extensive nature of the resources involved and because of its related information gathering systems, including remote sensing and third-party data providers. Despite the continuing evolution of intellectual property law, legal precedents from the computer industry and general business practice provide guidelines applicable to precision agriculture. Legal complications need not constrain adoption of precision agriculture technologies if the legal forms from other industries (copyright, trade secrets, and patents) can be translated to precision agriculture, allowing producers to abandon handshake agreements and formalize their legal rights to their data. Both the American Farm Bureau Federation and the Agricultural Electronics Association have been developing legal templates and forms for producers to use in asserting ownership over precision agriculture data. The extension service or legal experts associated with SAES could provide a valuable service by working with these and other groups, adapting the