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

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
Southern States grower in cab
OpinionPrecision Agriculture: A Place For Everyone At The Table
February 3, 2017
Over the last 30 days, I’ve been immersed in all things precision agriculture. If you received your personal copy of Read More
Co-Alliance employee
OpinionHelp (Still) Wanted In Ag Retail
December 21, 2016
What a year for the industry and for me! My home city of Cleveland, OH, ended its sports championship curse. Read More
Deere R4023 cab
Paul SchrimpfA Clearer Vision In Precision Ag
November 1, 2016
When our team conceived of the PrecisionAg Vision Conference more than a year ago, we had a few essential ideas about Read More
Trending Articles
AdjuvantsA New Weed-Control Era Begins: But First, One Last Obstacle
March 4, 2017
There is trepidation, there is reluctance, and there is excitement. Ag retailers feel it all about the new dicamba and Read More
LIFT Academy video screenshot
Crop InputsLIFT Agriculture Academy: A Q&A With West Central Distribution’s Dean Hendrickson
March 1, 2017
West Central Distribution recently launched its LIFT Agriculture Academy, a new, premiere training and professional development resource for West Central’s ag Read More
Farmer and aptop
Matt Hopkins10 Warning Signs Your Website Is Grossly Outdated
February 8, 2017
Your Website is often a visitor’s first impression of your ag retail business. A positive first impression can set the Read More
AgriSync
Matt Hopkins17 Agriculture Apps That Will Help You Farm Smarter In 2017
December 9, 2016
Ag professionals are working smarter, not harder, than ever before. Smart farming technologies have enabled them to reduce costs, maximize Read More
R4023 Sprayer, John Deere
CropLife 100Ag Retail Equipment Report: The Green Party Continues
December 7, 2016
In the annual race for sales in the ag retail equipment marketplace, the color schemes for participants are a little Read More
Mike Stern
Precision AgClimate Corp. CEO Talks Retailer Support For Digital Ag
December 1, 2016
CropLife Magazine’s sister publication, AgriBusiness Global, recently sat down with Mike Stern, CEO of The Climate Corp., following the Monsanto subsidiary’s Read More
Latest News
UncategorizedPrecision Ag, Iowa Water, and GM Corn Updates
March 24, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj look at the state of precision agriculture, the dismissal of the Des Moines Water Read More
Pam Marrone
Crop InputsMarrone Bio Innovations Enters Biostimulants Market Wit…
March 23, 2017
Marrone Bio Innovations, Inc. is expanding beyond biopesticides and crop protection and into the biostimulant market by commercially launching Haven Read More
Nutrients for Life Foundation Teacher
FertilizerNutrients For Life Foundation Celebrates 10 Years Teach…
March 23, 2017
Those in agriculture know fertilizer is a vital ingredient to grow strong, productive crops. In fact, fertilizer is responsible for Read More
ManagementThink You Know Water? Take WinField United’s R…
March 22, 2017
Water is among our most precious resources, and arguably the hardest working, with just one percent available for human use, Read More
Corn Field
LegislationTFI Hopes Court Dismissal Is ‘Final Chapter’…
March 20, 2017
The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) released the following statement from President, Chris Jahn on the March 17, 2017, federal court dismissal Read More
Wheat Growers
Industry NewsWheat Growers CEO Dale Locken To Retire
March 20, 2017
CEO Dale Locken has announced that he plans to retire from Wheat Growers. Locken has served almost 15 years as Read More
Bayer Monsanto
Eric SfiligojBayer-Monsanto: Life, LibertyLink, And The Pursuit Of R…
March 20, 2017
As the calendar officially turns to spring, life is in full renewal mode. Flowers are blooming, birds are singing, and Read More
Corn Field
Crop InputsUltra Yield Micronutrients Acquires Kronos Micronutrien…
March 16, 2017
Ultra Yield Micronutrients, Inc. ”Ultra”, an affiliate of Cameron Chemicals, Inc., is pleased to announce that it has acquired the Read More
ManagementSnowstorms, Asset Sales, and Soybeans Prices
March 16, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss the weather, precision ag, crop protection company mergers, and commodity prices in this Read More
Soybean Field
Seed/BiotechBayer Invests $8.1 million In Soybean Advancement In Th…
March 16, 2017
Growers in Illinois and across the Midwest now have the added benefit of a state-of-the-art soybean research facility, increasing accessibility Read More
CHS
CropLife 100CHS Acquires Western Co-op Transport Association
March 16, 2017
CHS Inc., North America’s leading farmer-owned cooperative and a global energy, grains and foods company, has purchased Western Co-op Transport Read More
Young corn plants in soil
HerbicidesBest Management Practices To Control PPO-Resistant Weed…
March 14, 2017
Weeds resistant to the class of herbicides called protoporphyrinogen oxidase (PPO) inhibitors are spreading at a faster rate than weed Read More
Photo credit: The United Soybean Board/The Soybean Checkoff.
Eric SfiligojFungicide Resistance On The Horizon
March 13, 2017
For many years now, the agricultural market has struggled to keep ahead of an ever-growing number of herbicide-resistant weeds. According Read More
Management2017 Commodity Classic Review
March 10, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss what happened at the recent Commodity Classic in San Antonio. Read More
Farmer using AgriSync
ManagementMajor AgriSync Update Aims To Extend Ag Experts’ Power …
March 10, 2017
AgriSync announced a major update to its leading collaboration and service management tool for professional ag advisors and their farmer Read More
Agrible Pocket Spray Smart App
EquipmentNew Agrible Pocket Spray Smart App Alleviates Spraying …
March 10, 2017
There’s a new app to help farmers decide when to spray their fields. Pocket Spray Smart is a free iOS Read More
BPIA logo
Crop InputsBiological Products Trade Association Changes Name, Exp…
March 9, 2017
The Biological Products Industry Alliance (BPIA), formerly the BioPesticide Industry Alliance, is the new name of the rapidly growing U.S.-based Read More
BBI MagnaSpread Salford BBI
Equipment14 Fertilizer Spreaders For 2017
March 9, 2017
Application equipment manufacturers stressed flexibility and accuracy with this year’s crop of fertilizer spreaders. From AGCO’s TerraGator TG9300B and Case IH’s 810 Read More