Still Early in the Game for Precision Agriculture

Still Early in the Game for Precision Agriculture

Baseball fans hear a lot of the same clichés every season, being that there’s at least 162 games to be played out, and many situations will be repeated. Like when a pitcher gets shelled for five runs in the first inning and the homer radio announcer blurts the ever popular: “A rough start, but it’s still early and we can get back in the game.”

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That came to mind as we began tying the bow on our June precision agriculture coverage. In the latest issue, the popular and longest running retailer precision adoption survey executed with our friends at Purdue University gets at key adoption trends over two decades.

And in the sister publication, PrecisionAg® Professional, we compiled a “here and now” precision technology report based on interviews and an electronic survey we conducted in April and May.

One of the things that struck me from the survey results were answers to the open-ended question, “What do you see as the most important future precision practice or technology that would improve the value you deliver to customers through your precision program?”

We attempted to stretch the question to get more of a forward-looking range of answers, but most of the responses were stuck in the “early innings.” From variable rate fertilizer to improved in-season imagery to better internet service (“Better rural connectivity. My internet is a joke, quipped one respondent), the answers consistently focused on problems we are having in the here and now.

Related to this, elsewhere in the June issue of PrecisionAg Professional we highlighted 10 interesting personalities in precision agriculture, and one of them is Dr. Raj Khosla of Colorado State University. He’s been instrumental in coordinating precision agriculture research throughout the world, and has been an ag technology advocate for more than a decade.

Raj shared a thought that struck a chord: “It is important for us to understand that precision agriculture is in the stage of infancy. We have been practicing agriculture for thousands of years, but precision agriculture for about the past two decades.

“Though precision agriculture uses many aspects of IT and ICT technologies, the core business of agriculture cannot simply change in a few years, like in the IT world where technology can advance through 2G to 3G to 4G in a matter of couple of years.”

In other words, despite the tremendous strides the industry has taken toward technology adoption, we are still very early in the ballgame. Some days it will feel like we spotted the opposing team a five-run lead as we work to build value for our farmer-customers. But with diligence and right-sized expectations, our precision programs will be a difference making aspect of our retail operations.

On a side note … If you’re attending the 2017 InfoAg Conference next month in St. Louis, MO, stop by and see me and the rest of the team at the PrecisionAg Media booth. It should be another excellent event!