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Science mapping approach to analyze the research evolution on precision agriculture: world, EU and Italian situation

Pallottino, Federico, Biocca, Marcello, Nardi, Pierfrancesco, Figorilli, Simone, Menesatti, Paolo, Costa, Corrado
Precision agriculture 2018 v.19 no.6 pp. 1011-1026
European Union, computer science, databases, farmers, geographical distribution, issues and policy, precision agriculture, China, Italy, United States
The relevance of precision agriculture produced a growth of the related literature over the years. However, a structured analysis of the published material is still missing. Thus, this study attempts to analyze the global scientific output of precision agriculture researches published during the period 2000–2016. By using a science mapping approach, mainly based on the application of network analysis tools, it was possible to investigate pivotal aspects of this research field such as publication trends, research topics and their geographical distribution. Using the Scopus database 17,756 scientific publications were retrieved from the chosen period. The number of publications increased after 2006, highlighting the vibrancy of the field. By authoring 35% of the publications, U.S.A. and China were the most active knowledge producer countries. Moreover, the generation of time resolved maps allowed us to identify agriculture engineering, computer science and agriculture studies as three main research areas characterizing precision agriculture panorama. The paper discusses the distribution of these topics at global level, among European countries and in Italy. Overall, this analysis represents the first holistic view of precision agriculture research providing valuable information for farmers, policy makers and researchers.