Technology In Agriculture: The Other 80%

This summer, myself and a group of editorial types attended a technology event hosted by John Deere. Getting invited to an event like this is not a big deal. In fact, this summer has been one of the busiest “special invitation” periods we’ve ever had, and speaks to the remarkably long bull market we’ve been riding in agriculture.

By Deere standards though, this was a particularly special meeting in that it was the first time that such an event ever focused strictly on technology efforts. The company’s vision of the future is clear, even if the actual path getting there is still pretty murky.

The meeting started out with an impressive video “window into the future” Deere produced called “Farm Forward.” You can find it on YouTube. It was a sneak preview, as even the company’s dealers had not yet seen it.

A number of things impressed me about the video, which I encourage you to watch whatever ag “color” you fly. First, the imagery mixes the correct demographics and setting — a farmer in his mid-50s in a farmhouse and what we assume is the next generation riding in the cab of the tractor — with depictions of technology that are inobtrusive and intuitively functional.

A high-tech coffee pot, which brews a single cup of Joe for the farmer as he approaches the counter, is your first hint that something interesting is going on. Then, in a house that looks like any of a million farmhouses in rural America, he touches a wall and it displays a screen featuring — what else? — satellite weather and markets information.

A touch turns off the screen, and as he contemplates the day walking to his office, a touch of the desktop launches another virtual screen where he reviews weather alerts. The only real conversation in the entire video is between the farmer and the Deere dealer, initiated not by phone but via the display.

Look, I’ve been saying that depictions of “family farmers” featuring pitchforks and guys riding 50-year old tractors have got to go for a long time — that we need to embrace our progress in technology and efficiency and show the world what we can do. But in an honest and realistic setting. This nails it.

But it also serves as a reminder to me that the next wave of technology that brings us closer to wireless connectivity, to full and robust access to our data, to the ability to really use our data to its fullest advantage, will have to be very, very simple and highly integrated.

In the cover story, Amy Asmus notes that only about 20% of Asmus Farm Supply customers could be described as “progressive,” or willing to try what she recommends to improve their operations. The other 80% are happy to sit back and wait for more progressive farmers to give things a try before they buy, or just ignore new stuff altogether.

I believe the sticking point for so many is, and frankly has been for years, that farmers simply want to farm. If something they’re being sold doesn’t translate clearly to the operation and lead to some improvement in the practices of farming, it won’t go anywhere.

Over the next few years, there will be a number of technology solutions that will more fully roll out and ask growers to buy in. These solutions need to facilitate farming, or they will disappoint the way precision adoption disappointed for nearly 20 years.

Leave a Reply

Paul Schrimpf Stories

Soybean Field Sunset
OpinionPicking Partners in the Crop Protection Market
July 17, 2017
Agriculture is a market awash in highs, lows, and everything in between. This is certainly true in the world of Read More
Topcon Horizon XTend Application
OpinionStill Early in the Game for Precision Agriculture
June 3, 2017
Baseball fans hear a lot of the same clichés every season, being that there’s at least 162 games to be Read More
OpinionOpinion: Taking On The Farmers Business Network
April 8, 2017
Well, another round of venture capital funding has come to Farmers Business Network (FBN), followed up with the obligatory feature Read More
PA Innovation
OpinionWinter Of Learning In Precision Agriculture
March 1, 2017
Winter time is meeting time, and it usually means that I get the chance to not only attend some terrific Read More
Trending Articles
Tim Hassinger Dow AgroSciences President and CEO
Crop InputsDow’s Tim Hassinger Named President, CEO of Lindsay Corp.
July 24, 2017
Lindsay Corp. has  announced the appointment of Timothy Hassinger as president and CEO and a member of its board of Read More
Stewardship‘Gonna Fly Now’ with Environmental Respect
July 20, 2017
One of the most memorable moments in movie history occurred in the Academy Award-winning 1976 film “Rocky.” Haven gotten his Read More
StewardshipEnvironmental Respect 2017 Kicks Off Enjoying an American Pastime
July 18, 2017
Following months of planning and scheduling, the 2017 Environmental Respect Awards (ERA) celebration kicked off in fine fashion as more Read More
Soybean Closeup
Crop InputsMissouri Lifts Dicamba Ban, Issues Stricter Application Parameters
July 14, 2017
The Missouri Department of Agriculture has lifted its barely week-old ban on new dicamba technologies, which have been at the Read More
Crop InputsMonsanto Responds to Arkansas, Missouri Dicamba Bans
July 10, 2017
Monsanto, provider of the dicamba-tolerant Roundup Ready Xtend crop system for soybeans and cotton, issued the following statement on Friday, Read More
Retail FacilitiesPCS-Hammond Meets Fertilizer Storage Needs with New Dome Facility
July 8, 2017
The new barrel dome facility at the PCS-Hammond Regional Distribution Center in Hammond, IN, can hold more than 100,000 tons Read More
Latest News
1255-Early-Riser-Planter-with-Precision-Planting
EquipmentAGCO to Acquire Precision Planting
July 26, 2017
AGCO and The Climate Corp. announced today that a definitive agreement has been signed for AGCO to acquire the Precision Read More
CPS-Norwood-and-Dupont-reps
Eric SfiligojA Message to Ag Retailers: Do Tell Your Good Stories
July 26, 2017
As the daughter of a peanut farmer, Krysta Harden, Chief Sustainability Officer for DuPont Crop Protection, understands the importance ag Read More
Iowa-State-Seed-Science-Center
Seed/BiotechIowa State Celebrates 10 Years of Online Seed Education
July 26, 2017
This year, Iowa State University is celebrating 10 years of service to the seed industry through its online Graduate Program Read More
Corn seed treatment
Seed/Biotech5 Steps for Stewardship of Treated Seed
July 26, 2017
With planting season just around the corner, the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) reminds farmers to follow five basic steps Read More
Darin Lickfeldt Verdesian In Field
Crop InputsVerdesian: Sustainability Goes Hand in Hand with Profit…
July 25, 2017
Sustainability is a hot topic in agriculture these days. And while measuring sustainability and its on-farm impact can seem difficult Read More
Crop InputsBASF: In Arkansas Drift Cases, Buffer Zones Mostly Not …
July 24, 2017
BASF on Thursday addressed questions about spreading dicamba drift issues on a media briefing call. In Arkansas – which is Read More
Tim Hassinger Dow AgroSciences President and CEO
Crop InputsDow’s Tim Hassinger Named President, CEO of Linds…
July 24, 2017
Lindsay Corp. has  announced the appointment of Timothy Hassinger as president and CEO and a member of its board of Read More
Eric SfiligojThe 2017 Ambassadors of Respect Come from Around the Gl…
July 24, 2017
After a week of fun, enjoying food, sights, and company information, DuPont Crop Protection representatives and their Environmental Respect guests Read More
ManagementCropLife Retail Week: Dicamba Update and InfoAg Preview
July 21, 2017
Editors Eric Sfiligoj and Paul Schrimpf discuss reports from the field and comments from Monsanto about dicamba drift this season, Read More
Stewardship‘Gonna Fly Now’ with Environmental Respect
July 20, 2017
One of the most memorable moments in movie history occurred in the Academy Award-winning 1976 film “Rocky.” Haven gotten his Read More
StewardshipEnvironmental Respect: Grand Grounds, Posters Parade
July 19, 2017
To celebrate their accomplishments in the area of environmental stewardship, award recipients at the 2017 Environmental Respect week spent much Read More
StewardshipHarden’s Message to ERA Winners: Do Tell Your Good Stor…
July 19, 2017
As the daughter of a peanut farmer, Krysta Harden, Chief Sustainability Officer for DuPont Crop Protection, understands the importance the Read More
StewardshipFarming Smarter Hinges on 4R Best Management Practices
July 18, 2017
Preserving water quality while feeding another 2 billion people by 2050 is the challenge facing North America’s farmers and its Read More
StewardshipEnvironmental Respect 2017 Kicks Off Enjoying an Americ…
July 18, 2017
Following months of planning and scheduling, the 2017 Environmental Respect Awards (ERA) celebration kicked off in fine fashion as more Read More
Soybean Field Sunset
OpinionPicking Partners in the Crop Protection Market
July 17, 2017
Agriculture is a market awash in highs, lows, and everything in between. This is certainly true in the world of Read More
TMX-2050-In-Cab-Display-Launch-Run-Screen
EquipmentGPS Auto Steer: Innovating in a Mature Market
July 17, 2017
In the world of Big IRON, GPS auto steer has closely mirrored the evolutionary path of consumer GPS Navigation systems Read More
MFA-Centralia-MO
Eric SfiligojThe Resilience of Ag Retailers
July 17, 2017
After covering the ag retail market for 17 years, I think one of the most impressive character traits I’ve seen Read More
SERA-meeting
Stewardship4R Event Explores How to Minimize Phosphorus Losses
July 17, 2017
This year the Southern Extension and Research Activity (SERA) – 17; will be meeting in Oregon, OH, from August 14-17. Read More