Chapters 6 and 8 in Unnaturally Delicious were two of the most enjoyable to write because I got to learn about some of the amazing things going on in my own town and university.
Chapter 6 focuses on the story of David Waits, who created SST Software, a company focused on data management solutions for farmers, particularly geo-spatial information. While most farmers are today accustomed to seeing colorful yield maps showing which areas of the field are providing more and less grain, most food consumers have no idea of how much information and complexity goes into running a modern farm.
They key for farmers is to combine yield information with spatially-lined information on varieties planted, soil characteristics, etc. so that more precise decisions can made, for example, on fertilizer applications (to help prevent nitrogen runoff and increase yields).
I had the chance to play around with their software a bit myself, and it is truly amazing how many possible decisions a modern commercial farmer today has to make - something many critics of modern agriculture scarcely comprehend. Here's what I had to say after talking about different decisions on seed choice and fertilizer choice:
Later in Chapter 8, I also talked about Bill Raun, an agronomy professor at Oklahoma State University (more on him later) who is also working on precision agriculture applications. Along with some engineers he created the GreenSeeker, which is:
Bill has a lot of amazing pictures at his website, here is one with several GreenSeeker's attached to a fertilizer applicator.