Lean Six Sigma in Agriculture: Best practices, tools, etc.

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    John Y

    I am a current grad student studying Industrial Management and Lean Six Sigma. I have been working in various industries (civil engineering/manufacturing/military) for the past 18 years. Prior to that I grew up on a farm in Missouri, and have recently decided to move back to the farm and help manage the operation. Although agriculture has been a part of my life since I was born I never thought of it so much as a process that can be refined like with manufacturing or project management.

    Now that I am a student again and faced with the task of deep thought into the areas of quality management, I am curious as to the possibilities of Six Sigma/LSS in agriculture (specifically row-crop production). Does anyone have any specific examples or tools that are best suited for this industry?

    Initially, when I think of processes that can be improved I think of the precision application of fertilizer utilized alongside GPS monitoring that farmers use to dictate precise amounts of fertilizer only where it is needed. I am just not sure how something like this would be envisioned in relation to Six Sigma. Any examples or real-world applications (including lessons learned) of LSS tools used in farming by those out there would be greatly appreciated!

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