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Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering


Q&A with Dr. John Fulton

June 22, 2020
Dr. John Fulton, professor of food, agricultural and biological engineering

Agriculture production is challenged with the need to increase yields while maintaining farm profitability.  Technology and farm data are becoming more integral in producing food.  Dr. John Fulton’s research and extension focuses on machinery automation and use of spatial data to improve the farm business and in-season decisions with specialization on developing and evaluating technology or automated components related to application equipment to more accurately place and meet site-specific crop and soil needs. Dr. John Fulton was recently promoted to full professor in June of 2020. 

1. What is your research focus?

Machinery automation and digital agriculture. 

2. What initially got you interested in pursuing this area of research?  

GPS became available to the public around the time I started graduate school at the University of Kentucky.  It was at that time Precision Agriculture become a hot topic within agriculture with companies interested in developing technologies that used GPS to control machinery and the delivery of crop inputs site-specifically.  The University of Kentucky started conducting research in precision agriculture and I was drawn to this new approach to farming.

3. What do you enjoy most about working in the Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering at Ohio State? 

The diversity of research within FABE but also the range of research opportunities that come about on a weekly basis.  I have also had a wonderful opportunity to collaborate with FABE faculty and extension personnel plus working with faculty across CFAES and from different institutions.

4. What are you currently working on or what future projects are you aiming to begin working on soon? 

Currently working on a sensor to measure the amount of granular fertilizer flowing through tubes or hoses on farm application equipment.   This sensor would provide an estimate of application rate by-row and the creation of nutrient application coverage maps.  Similar work revolves around developing a mobile application (APP) to support the calibration of granular fertilizer spreaders to ensure accurate delivery of nutrients to cropland.  Another project includes a yield monitor project to determine the scale that yield monitor data can inform on-farm research.  Finally, we are working on on-the-go nutrient constituent sensing for liquid manures.

5. How has your field/area changed since you joined the FABE faculty and where do you see it going in the future? 

The significant change since arriving at Ohio State has been the evolution from precision agriculture to digital agriculture.  Farm data was a hot topic when I arrived but with data analytics, digital tools, IOT and sensors, plus precision agriculture over the past several years, digital agriculture has become a more comprehensive descriptor for the digitization of agriculture.