Colorado State University professor to help shape space-based technology policies

A Colorado State University professor known as an international expert in the use of GPS in agriculture has been named to a federal panel that helps shape national policy on space-based technologies.

Rajiv Khosla, CSU professor of precision agriculture, is a new member of the National Space-Based Positioning, Navigation and Timing Advisory Board, a federal advisory committee established by presidential directive and sponsored by NASA. He will attend a meeting of the advisory board in Washington, D.C., this week.

Khosla will represent agricultural interests on the board that examines national policy regarding global positioning system technologies. That’s significant given the large number of farmers using GPS – now standard in most farm equipment – and the potential for more sophisticated use of space-based technologies as agriculture is challenged to produce food ever more efficiently.

"Dr. Khosla’s participation on this national advisory board demonstrates his preeminence in the use of GPS capabilities in agriculture and also reflects a strength in our work at CSU,” said Craig Beyrouty, dean of CSU’s College of Agricultural Sciences. “The role offers Dr. Khosla tremendous opportunity to share his expertise in a national policy realm. This work is critical as we consider the challenges agriculture faces in feeding a booming global population."

Khosla, president of the International Society of Precision Agriculture, was appointed to the advisory board by Maj. Gen. Charles F. Bolden Jr., NASA administrator.

During a two-year term on the advisory board, Khosla will provide insights gained from university teaching, research and outreach. The board, comprising 24 experts from industry and academia, provides policy, planning and program management advice to the U.S. government regarding space-based positioning, navigation and timing services.

“Any policies our federal agencies make with GPS will greatly impact agriculture, so I’m very excited and honored to serve on this board,” said Khosla, who works in the Department of Soil and Crop Sciences. “I would ultimately like to advocate for GPS to be more accessible and less expensive for the farming community.”

With colleagues at CSU, Khosla has developed an extensive program to understand and show how space-based technologies such as GPS can be better used to enhance agricultural productivity, profitability and environmental conservation. His work in the field of precision agriculture helps farmers understand how to use GPS to provide fertilizer and other inputs at variable rates and according to specific soil and crop needs within farm fields.

The work is essential, he said, because arable land is limited, yet the world’s population continues to mount and is expected to reach upwards of 9 billion by 2050. These dynamics present a challenge to farmers working to feed the world and prompt the use of technologies that improve efficiency while protecting the environment.

“These global pulls are going to put more pressure on our agricultural systems, and we’re not putting more land in agriculture,” Khosla said. “So we will have to become more efficient, more productive and more environmentally sustainable – there’s no question about that.”