QGIS rivals ArcGIS as desktop GIS software especially within Precision Agriculture. The difference is that QGIS is Open Source and therefore free to use for personal and commercial use. Open Source has many other advantages. If you are familiar with ArcGIS you should give QGIS a go.
If you run Windows I recommend installing using the OSGeo4W installer. Run the ‘Desktop Express Install’.
‘Out of the box’ QGIS is very capable. But it is not until you install a few powerful plugins that it’s real potential is revealed. So far the plugins I use on a daily basis are: SEXTANTE and Table Manager. SEXTANTE is not much good to me without SAGA. Together these make available a comprehensive list of common Vector and Raster GIS algorithms. Optionally install TauDEM and Orfeo (I have installed these but not yet used them).
Setting up SEXTANTE in QGIS 1.8 (Windows 7 & 8)
Install Sextante Plugin (In QGIS: Plugins > Fetch Python Plugins).
So SEXTANTE has access to the SAGA algorithms it needs to be downloaded and installed: SAGA.
Configure SAGA in SEXTANTE (In QGIS: Analysis > SEXTANTE options > SAGA), insert SAGA folder and check Activate box.
Similar to SAGA, download and install TauDEM 5.0.6 & MPICH2 (make sure you follow install instructions on the download page).
Configure TauDEM in SEXTANTE (In QGIS: Analysis > SEXTANTE options > TauDEM), insert MPICH2 bin directory, TauDEM command line tools folder and check Activate box.
Install Table Manager
Plugins > Fetch Python Plugins
Search for Table Manager and click Install.
With these two plugins, especially SEXTANTE, QGIS becomes extremely capable.