12th Annual Precision Agriculture Survey

In the Midwest, the more established precision technologies have hit their stride. Though a few dealerships add new precision technologies and services each year (like field mapping for legal/billing/insurance purposes and satellite/aerial imagery for internal dealership use), an almost equal number of dealerships may drop those technologies, resulting in a more or less stable level of use.

This spring, CropLife® magazine and Purdue University’s Center for Food and Agricultural Business conducted a survey of crop input dealers for the 12th consecutive year to see which precision technologies were being used by dealers, what type of precision services they were expecting to offer in the future, and how precision customers were impacting their businesses. As in previous years, a survey was sent to 2,500 CropLife dealership readers to “take the pulse of the industry” with respect to precision technologies.

This year, results are focusing on the Midwest dealerships who responded (see sidebar for details about the survey).

How Midwest Dealers Are Using Precision

The most common precision technology this year was GPS guidance systems with manual control/lightbar, by 75% of respondents, followed by precision technologies being used to provide services to growers. Rising to third place this year were GPS guidance systems with auto control/auto steer for fertilizer/chemical applications (used by 30% of the responding dealerships). Over one-quarter of the respondents (27%) used both types of GPS guidance systems, while 22% of the dealerships didn’t use either type of guidance system.

Various types of sensors are beginning to be used by retail dealerships. Last year, we combined all the sensors into one question about sensors mounted on equipment/pick-up trucks.

This year, sensors were split out to two types: soil sensors for mapping mounted on a pick-up truck, applicator, or tractor (examples include pH soil sensor and chlorophyll/greenness sensor), and on-the-go sensors (such as Crop Circle, Greenseeker, Yara N-Sensor). Almost 2% of the dealerships used at least one type of sensor last year (1.7%), and this rose to 2.4% of the Midwestern dealerships this year. Soil sensors mounted on the equipment were used by 1.8% of the respondents and on-the-go sensors were used by 1.2% of the respondents.

Figure 2 shows the trends in the use of these technologies for the last five years. The biggest growth in technology in the last three years has been in GPS guidance systems with auto control/autosteer. In 2004, only 4% of the dealerships in the Midwest were using autocontrol/autosteer technology. Last year, 22% were using the technology and by this year 30% of the Midwestern dealerships were using it. The use of other precision technologies has more or less leveled off from 2005 to 2007.

Precision Ag Service Offerings

In the Midwest, precision agriculture service offerings have remained almost level over the past few years with minor fluctuations each year, likely due to different samples of survey respondents. However, despite the leveling off of adoption, dealers are still expecting to add precision services in the next two years, with continued growth expected through 2009. The biggest growth expected is in fieldmapping with GIS, with 56% of the Midwestern dealerships expecting to be offering the service by 2009, up from 45% in 2007. Satellite imagery is also expected to grow substantially in the next two years, from 18% of the dealerships offering the service by fall of 2007 to 27% by 2009.

Precision application services continued to grow in 2007, with controller-driven multiple-nutrient application growing at a quicker rate than single-nutrient application. Both types of controller-driven application are expected to grow over the next two years, with 62% of the Midwestern dealerships expecting to be offering single-nutrient controller-driven application in 2009 and almost 40% of the respondents expecting they will be offering multi-nutrient controller-driven application.

Figure 5 shows the different types of variable-rate application services offered by the fall of 2007. Over half of the respondents indicated they are currently offering controller-driven single-nutrient application of fertilizer, outstripping manual variable-rate application, which was offered by only 44% of the Midwestern dealerships. Controller-driven multiple-nutrient application of fertilizer is quickly catching up, though, with almost one-third of the respondents indicating they were offering that service in 2007. Only for pesticides was manual variable-rate application still the most popular form of variable-rate application, with 23% of the dealerships offering manual variable-rate application.

Pricing Precision Services

Each year, dealerships are asked to tell us the typical price they charge per acre for their precision services. For those offering only packages or bundled pricing, it often isn’t possible to price out the components individually. Hence, far fewer dealerships typically respond to this question relative to some of the other questions in the survey.

Figure 6 and Figure 7 show the average prices charged per acre for each of the precision services in 2007 in the Midwest. The bars indicate what the middle 80% of the dealers were charging (as in previous years, we dropped the top 10% and bottom 10% to make the ranges a bit more consistent). Overall, the average prices charged were similar to those seen in 2007 with quite a bit of variability still in the market. Some of the services continue to be offered at no charge to the customer, though this is changing as precision technology becomes more wide-spread. The most common service offered free-of-charge was making agronomic recommendations based on GPS data, where 54% of the responding dealerships did not charge for the service.

We also asked dealerships how profitable they felt their precision service offerings were. For each precision component, Figure 8 shows the percentage of respondents who said the service was generating a profit (and covering both fixed and variable costs) from 2002 to 2007.

This year, 47% of the respondents felt that their total precision package was profitable, the highest percentage since we started asking the question in 2002. The most profitable precision service continued to be controller-driven multi-nutrient application, with 49% of the respondents saying that it generated a profit for them. This was also the only service with more respondents saying it generated a profit in 2007 than did in 2006. Controller-driven single nutrient application was second in profitability, with 40% indicating the service generated a profit for them.

In Conclusion

Precision technology appears to be here to stay in over three-quarters of the retail dealerships in the Midwest. The biggest growth currently is in use of the technology within the dealership instead of in services offered to customers. GPS guidance systems with autocontrol/autosteer continue to show the most rapid growth, though sensors (both on-the-go and mounted sensors) may be starting their growth in adoption as well. With the boom in ethanol production, a key strategic question is the impact of more corn acres on precision agricultural services (and vice versa).

Where are the opportunities? Where are the challenges? This story is one to follow in the 2008 CropLife/Purdue precision agriculture survey.

Leave a Reply

Precision Ag Stories

EquipmentCase IH Debuts Nutri-Tiller 955 Strip-Till Applicator
August 24, 2016
With strip-till continuing to expand across new acres, Case IH designed the new Nutri-Tiller 955 strip-till applicator to help producers Read More
EquipmentCase Launches Aim Command FLEX, 25th Anniversary Patriot Sprayer
August 24, 2016
Case IH announces new AIM Command FLEX advanced spray technology for greater application accuracy, as well as special 25th Anniversary Read More
PrecisionAg Video Conference
Precision AgVideo: PrecisionAg Vision Conference
August 22, 2016
A Strategic Conference Focused on the Future of Farm Digitization and Precision Agriculture Visit precisionagvision.com and register today! Read More
Illinois Researchers
FertilizerMeasure Of Age In Soil Nitrogen Could Help Precision Agriculture
July 26, 2016
What’s good for crops is not always good for the environment. Nitrogen, a key nutrient for plants, can cause problems Read More
Trending Articles
Key Cooperative Marcus Construction Steel Building
Retail FacilitiesMarcus Construction Builds High-Speed Agronomy Center For Key Cooperative
July 7, 2016
Key Cooperative in Grinnell, IA, wanted a state-of-the-art Agronomy Center to better serve its customers. Marcus Construction delivered exactly that. Read More
Heritage Cooperative
Retail FacilitiesKahler Automation Designs State-Of-The-Art Facility For Heritage Cooperative
July 4, 2016
Heritage Cooperative in Marysville, OH, needed an efficient liquid, dry and grain facility to serve the many needs of their Read More
The Andersons Waterloo
ManagementFirst Indiana Facility Certified Under 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program
June 27, 2016
The 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program has announced that The Andersons, Inc.’s Waterloo, IN, facility has been added to its Read More
Food IT
Industry NewsCalifornia Event Will Mix Ag And Tech Professionals To Explore IT Solutions
June 20, 2016
Silicon Valley is hot on agriculture, and an upcoming event in California will bring together the food and tech industries Read More
Monsanto Luling Plant
Eric SfiligojWhat’s Next For Monsanto?
May 31, 2016
For the folks at Monsanto’s headquarters in St. Louis, MO, it has been an eventful few weeks. Back on May Read More
Soybean Plant closeup
Industry NewsMonsanto Rejects Bayer Bid; Open To More Talks
May 25, 2016
Monsanto Co, the world’s largest seed company, turned down Bayer AG’s $62 billion acquisition bid as “incomplete and financially inadequate” Read More
Latest News
Crop InputsDuPont Pioneer: Corn Belt P and K Levels Lagging
August 24, 2016
A new DuPont Pioneer study conducted across 12 Corn Belt states demonstrates that growers may be leaving profit potential in Read More
Monsanto sign
Crop InputsCould a Monsanto-Bayer Union Be 2 Weeks from Fruition?
August 24, 2016
Via STLToday.com (The St. Louis Post-Dispatch): Merger talks between Monsanto Co. and Bayer AG are advancing after a series of Read More
EquipmentCase IH Debuts Nutri-Tiller 955 Strip-Till Applicator
August 24, 2016
With strip-till continuing to expand across new acres, Case IH designed the new Nutri-Tiller 955 strip-till applicator to help producers Read More
EquipmentCase Launches Aim Command FLEX, 25th Anniversary Patrio…
August 24, 2016
Case IH announces new AIM Command FLEX advanced spray technology for greater application accuracy, as well as special 25th Anniversary Read More
ASMARK 2016 Retailers Live! Tour - CPS
CropLife 100CPS Acquires Texas Retail Operation
August 23, 2016
Crop Production Services (CPS) has acquired the assets of Larry’s Chemical and Spray, Inc., for an undisclosed amount in an Read More
PrecisionAg Video Conference
Precision AgVideo: PrecisionAg Vision Conference
August 22, 2016
A Strategic Conference Focused on the Future of Farm Digitization and Precision Agriculture Visit precisionagvision.com and register today! Read More
Young Corn Plants
Industry NewsOABA Welcomes Nicole Wallace As Communication & Adm…
August 22, 2016
The Ohio AgriBusiness Association has hired Nicole Wallace as its communication and administrative coordinator. Wallace will help provide comprehensive communication Read More
Syngenta Sign
Crop InputsChemChina, Syngenta Receive Clearance From CFIUS
August 22, 2016
China National Chemical Corp. (ChemChina) and Syngenta have announced that the companies have received clearance on their proposed transaction from the Read More
ManagementAg Industry Shows and Rumors
August 18, 2016
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about the upcoming trade show schedule, crop protection merger updates, and content for Read More
MAGIE 2015
EquipmentMAGIE Takes The Pulse Of The Ag Retail Industry
August 18, 2016
Every year, one of the major highlights of my career as an ag journalist is attending the Midwest AG Industries Read More
MAGIE 2015 Overview
EquipmentPride In Professionalism On Display At MAGIE
August 18, 2016
The Illinois Fertilizer & Chemical Association (IFCA) is proud to partner with CropLife IRON and continue the tradition of bringing Read More
SprayersJenner Ag To Debut 25th Anniversary Edition Case IH Pat…
August 18, 2016
Visitors at the 2016 Midwest Ag Industries Exhibition (MAGIE) in Bloomington, IL, will have a unique photo opportunity, as Jenner Read More
Crop InputsEU Glyphosate Controversy Heating Up Yet Again
August 17, 2016
The battle over glyphosate rages on in Europe, creating a lot of question marks over whether the herbicide will continue Read More
Industry NewsNew Partnership Provides Improved Representation At Ohi…
August 16, 2016
The Ohio AgriBusiness Association (OABA) has retained Belinda Jones of Capitol Consulting Group, Inc. (CCG) for government relations work in Read More
Tissue testing
FertilizerMosaic: 6 Tips For Better Crop Nutrition In Corn
August 16, 2016
Late in the crop season is a good time to assess visual nutrient deficiencies and ensure early- and mid-season deficiencies Read More
WebinarsWebinar Schedule
August 14, 2016
Register for one of our upcoming Webinars or access our archive of past Webinars to view recordings of presentations that may be of interest to you. Read More
Dow DuPont
Crop InputsDowDuPont Update: EU Takes Closer Look at Merger
August 12, 2016
Dow Chemical Co. and DuPont Co. face months of haggling with European Union antitrust regulators who opened an in-depth probe Read More
ManagementNews from InfoAg 2016 and Weed Wands
August 11, 2016
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj review what happened at last week’s big Precision Ag event and a possible solution Read More