Ag Retail: 3 Tech Trends To Watch In 2014

We are only three months into the 2014 season, and agriculture has already experienced a number of interesting developments in ag technology and precision. While there are many tremendous opportunities for retailers who can stay on the leading edge of technology developments, keeping up with the rapid changes — and what they mean for our businesses — is a constant struggle.

In this article, we summarize some of the key events and trends in technology, and what to watch for as the year unfolds. It promises to be an interesting ride.

1. Monsanto Scorecard. Four years ago at the Farm Progress Show, the Integrated Farming Systems display at the Monsanto booth was a tiny table in a dark corner of the company’s massive display. But anyone willing to chat with the folks behind the table quickly discovered that Monsanto’s foray into precision agriculture was going to be serious business.

Today, the prescription farming business is entirely spun off into its own entity with the acquisition of Climate Corp., and more recently,  the soil analysis component of Solum Inc.

At the recent Commodity Classic meeting, we stood near the Climate Corp. booth and watched growers take its Climate Basic Web-based weather data tool for a spin and become completely enthralled. Through some Silicon Valley created magic, growers can get detailed current and historic weather data on their fields. All the information you always wished you had in one place.

Also in 2014, the FieldScripts program is rolling out in full force in the four pilot program states from last year: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and Minnesota. From lessons it learned about the effectiveness of FieldScripts last year, only growers with at least three years of valid yield data will be considered for the program. And growers will be charged $10 per acre to sign up for the program.

All this presents challenges and opportunities for retailers, who Monsanto continues to stress are critical to its business vision moving forward. But the Solum acquisition is arguably the most intriguing move this year, and could have the most significant impact on crop production in the future.

Like Climate Corp., Solum was born from the combination of Silicon Valley technology married with agriculture industry opportunity. Not long ago it seemed as if Solum was prepared to make a big splash in the soil analysis world with its No-Wait Nitrate testing regimen that would enable a user to test a field for nitrogen, receive results the same day, and be able to variable-rate apply N in season for maximum effectiveness.

Last year, the powers that be at Solum saw more gold in the “big data” aspect of ag than in the soil, and the testing portion languished — so its sale was not a surprise.

But the fit for Monsanto is clear, and the implications in the medium and longer term could be significant. Solum’s work on soil nutrient testing regimens had gone far beyond simple single-nutrient testing. The company was digging deeper into nutrient reactions in soil, trying to unlock the secrets of nutrient and soil type interactions, where so much is still unknown.

That said, in conversations with Monsanto folks, even they are not clear on what the Solum acquisition will bring to Climate Corp. But it’s another indication of how serious the company is about deepening its agronomic recommendation efforts.

2. UAS Mania. Interest around unmanned aerial systems (UAS) has reached fever pitch this winter. We’ve gotten more calls and emails from retailers and consultants asking for any information they can get on companies, costs and capabilities.

The bottom line is, the Federal Aviation Admini­stration has clearly stated that they are not legal for commercial use until it sets down rules for UAS use sometime in late summer of 2015. And while we have been told “off the record” by “inside sources” that the agency is almost certainly not going to try to monitor and enforce against individual farmers, anyone who invests the dollars in a UAS must keep in mind that they could be grounded at any time.

The bigger concern for agriculture is the angered citizen who experiences the off target flight pattern, and decides to seek legal counsel or even regulatory protection. Such occurrences could result in onerous state-level regulations that curtail our future opportunities with UAS. It only takes one angry person.

3. Big Data. An important side effect of the aforementioned FieldScripts program, and the myriad precision decision and logistics tools that have entered the market in recent years is the control of “big data.”

With the proliferation of manufacturer offerings utilizing the cloud for the transfer of data, combined with the new and growing number of alliances among manufacturers and service providers, growers are feeling like they are losing some measure of control of their data. Or, that they are giving away something of value.

This year so far we’ve seen a number of manufacturers adjust data policies to ease concerns, and conversations with farmers are ongoing.

Importance Of Retail

Despite the proliferation of automation technology coming to agriculture, from cloud-based systems and wireless data interchange to field-level online weather, manufacturers and retailers we talk to continue to assert that “boots on the ground” will continue to be a critical aspect of making even automated systems work to their full potential.

Topics:

Leave a Reply

Precision Ag Stories

Precision AgPrecision Agriculture: Finding The Payback
September 6, 2014
Profitability in precision ag is not about any one technology, but the result of employing technology in a total system approach that is agronomically sound. Read More
Precision AgUAS: The S Stands For Smart, Service And Sensors
May 1, 2014
The only thing occuring more rapidly than the technologies’ evolution is the clamoring to implement UAS into agriculture as soon as possible. Read More
Precision AgAg Retail: 3 Tech Trends To Watch In 2014
April 1, 2014
It's been a busy first quarter of technology developments in 2014. Here are some of the highlights, and things to watch in the months ahead. Read More
Valley Variable Rate Irrigation
Precision AgMaximizing Returns From Water Inputs
March 3, 2014
Irrigation manufacturers have developed some vital new technologies to fine-tune irrigation and save growers money, water, energy and labor. Read More

Trending Articles

Equipment2014 Product Of The Year Voting
September 19, 2014
Many new products were introduced to the ag retail marketplace this year. From this group, CropLife IRON and its consulting partners have selected five finalists for the Product of the Year award. Please cast your vote today to help us determine the winner. Read More
FertilizerFall Fertility 2014: Forecasting Fertilizer Use
September 7, 2014
Great crops this year have tapped the soil, and fall work is definitely called for, but how challenging will that get? Read More
CropLife 100CHS To Build $3 Billion Fertilizer Plant In North Dakota
September 5, 2014
The fertilizer plant in Spiritwood will be the single largest investment in CHS history, as well as the single largest private investment project ever undertaken in North Dakota. Read More
EquipmentNew Holland Acquires Miller-St. Nazianz
September 3, 2014
The assets of Miller acquired as part of the transaction will become part of New Holland Agriculture, a CNH Industrial brand, building on a successful four-year partnership between the two companies. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Acquires East Kansas Chemical
September 2, 2014
Ranked 82nd on the CropLife 100, East Kansas Chemical will operate as part of Pinnacle's Performance Agriculture brand. Read More
MAGIE 2014 ShowStopper
EquipmentJohn Deere Again Wins MAGIE ShowStopper Award
August 25, 2014
For the second consecutive year, John Deere was honored at the Midwest AG Industries Exposition (MAGIE) for its new R4045 sprayer. Read More

Latest News

StewardshipProgram To Examine Ag-Related Practices, Policies To Pr…
September 22, 2014
A panel discussion on October 14 will include a significant discussion on key issues and solutions related to all aspects of harmful algal blooms. Read More
Eric SfiligojIt’s Product Of The Year Voting Season
September 22, 2014
Readers of CropLife IRON will choose 2014’s best new product over the next month. Read More
Palmer pigweed in soybean stubble
HerbicidesValent To Discontinue Gangster Herbicide
September 22, 2014
Valent will discontinue Gangster Herbicide after the 2015 growing season as growers can now deploy Fierce XLT herbicide in soybeans. Read More
Equipment2014 Product Of The Year Voting
September 19, 2014
Many new products were introduced to the ag retail marketplace this year. From this group, CropLife IRON and its consulting partners have selected five finalists for the Product of the Year award. Please cast your vote today to help us determine the winner. Read More
Equipment2014 Farm Science Review Crowd Tops 2013 Show
September 19, 2014
The 52nd annual Ohio State University Farm Science Review welcomed more than 130,000 farmers, industry professionals, FFA students and agricultural enthusiasts during the three-day event. Read More
Seed/BiotechUSDA Approves Enlist Following Rigorous Review
September 18, 2014
Dow AgroSciences now awaits EPA registration of Enlist Duo herbicide, the companion herbicide to the Enlist traits, which is expected in the near future. Read More
BlendersYargus Appoints New Plant Manager
September 18, 2014
Steve Shaffer will direct and coordinate daily operations at the company’s Marshall, IL, manufacturing plant, where the Layco line of material handling equipment is produced. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Acquires Kansas-Based Cedar Ridge Supply
September 16, 2014
Cedar Ridge Supply will operate as part of Pinnacle's Performance Agriculture brand. Read More
StewardshipSecretary Vilsack Highlights Innovative Conservation Ef…
September 15, 2014
Nearly $16 million in Conservation Innovation Grants (CIGs) will be awarded to 47 organizations to help develop cutting-edge ideas to accelerate innovation in private lands conservation. Read More
Seed/BiotechSyngenta Responds To Cargill Lawsuit
September 15, 2014
Syngenta believes that the lawsuit is without merit and strongly upholds the right of growers to have access to approved new technologies. Read More
Equipment2014 Farm Science Review Launches Mobile App
September 15, 2014
Smartphone and tablet users planning on attending the 2014 Farm Science Review can now download this year’s customized mobile application. Read More
CropLife 100Southern States Coop Grower Sets Georgia Soybean Yield …
September 15, 2014
Georgia farmer Randy Dowdy's soybeans yielded an astonishing 110.66 bushels per acre, crushing the previous record of 82 bushels-per-acre. Read More
NIMITZ Treated vs Untreated pepper plant
InsecticidesNIMITZ Nematicide Approved By EPA
September 12, 2014
NIMITZ is a novel, non-fumigant nematicide with simplified application features, user safety and an active ingredient with a unique mode of action. Read More
InsecticidesMarrone Bio Innovations Receives Patent For Chromobacte…
September 11, 2014
The patent is the first step for MBI in developing a commercially viable product to inhibit infestations of corn rootworm larvae across America and other regions. Read More
HerbicidesDow AgroSciences: Keeping The Pipeline Stocked
September 11, 2014
Dow AgroSciences is embracing product diversity to drive the company’s future. Read More
CropLife 100CHS Is Official Partner Of New St. Paul Ballpark
September 10, 2014
The new ballpark in St. Paul, MN, officially became CHS Field with Twin Cities-based CHS Inc. revealed as the naming rights partner. Read More
EquipmentHagie Honors Farming Stewardship Leaders
September 10, 2014
The Iowa Farm Environmental Leader award recognizes Iowa farmers as environmental leaders that are committed to healthy soils and improved water quality. Read More
Precision AgPlantBeat: Your Plants’ Pulse In The Palm Of Your Han…
September 10, 2014
A new agronomic monitoring and recommendation service from Phytech could rewrite the book on real-time plant health status monitoring. Read More