Big Moves In Precision

As we move further into the technology revolution, the technology is catching up to the ideas and dreams many had about of how precision technologies could be integrated into the ag industry. We see a parallel revolution in the consumer market as smartphones and iPads change how technology is incorporated into peoples’ day-to-day lives.

One of the biggest changes for precision technologies is the impact of a much wider array of GPS correction sources. With more options related to affordability and the level of precision offered, technologies like autosteer, on-the-go sensing and guidance-related systems are seeing rapid adoption. At the same time, some of the more traditional GPS/non-RTK precision services are becoming standard in parts of the Midwest.

Use Of Guidance Systems, RTK

Between 2009 and 2011, the use of GPS guidance systems with auto control/autosteer almost doubled, rising from 28% of the materials custom applied in 2009 to 41% in 2011. This corresponded to a similar decrease in the use of manual control/lightbars, dropping from 68% of the materials applied in 2009 to 46% in 2011. The impetus for this change to autocontrol/autosteer guidance systems has been a wider availability of types of GPS corrections so growers and dealers can choose what best suits their individual needs. With the improved accuracy in real time signals, many new agricultural technologies are now poised to take off including not only autosteer guidance systems but also variable-rate seeding, on-the-go sensors and auto nozzle shut offs.

We asked those using autocontrol GPS guidance systems what type of correction they were using (see sidebar for a guide to terminology). The most common correction was Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS), with almost two-thirds of the autocontrol guidance system users indicating they used this free service available through the FAA. A quarter of the respondents (25%) were purchasing a correction service from an RTK array/cluster such as John Deere and Trimble, while 21% were purchasing satellite correction such as OmniSTAR XP and StarFire2.

For those who are far from stationary bases or who have areas in their fields with poor signal strength, purchasing an individual base station is often the best choice. At this time, 14% of those using autoguidance have purchased their own RTK base station, either a stationary one they can place for the best signal in their market area or a portable base station that gets moved as they work on different farms/areas.

Two areas that are just at the initial phase of adoption are RTN (Real Time Networks), which use a mesh layout of base stations to provide better service coverage, and CORS (Continually Operating Reference Stations), which work on cell phone data plans to provide wireless service not dependent on line-of-sight radio waves. Both are currently being used by fewer than 5% of the respondents.

Barriers To Growth

Despite the excitement of the wide array of Differential GPS for guidance systems and all that it brings, there are still many areas in the U.S. where precision technologies have not yet taken off. The Midwest offers the advantage of often large, unobstructed views, many service providers and large acreages where the cost and learning curve for adopting precision technology can be more easily justified. In other parts of the U.S., the cost of adoption is still high.

Survey respondents were asked to rate a series of issues as to how significant a barrier they were to the growth and expansion of precision agriculture in their area. This was the same list of barriers that we asked about in 2009, 2008 and 2004. Figures 9 and 10 show the percentage of respondents who agreed with each customer and dealer issue listed (rated a four or five out of five, where five is “strongly agree that this is a barrier”).

The strong ag economy is evident in the ratings this year over two years ago. Though farm income was still the biggest customer issue impacting precision service adoption, the levels have fallen dramatically from 50% of the respondents agreeing it was a barrier in 2009, to only 35% in 2011.

The impact of improvements in technology and the usability for the end-user is evident in the ratings. The time involved in interpreting data and making decisions is becoming less of a barrier as technology becomes more user-friendly (dropping from 26% of the respondents saying it was a barrier in 2009 to only 19% in 2011). Other customer barriers are back to 2008 levels.

Most of the dealer-specific issues were no more important a barrier this year than they were a year ago, with several issues actually being mentioned by fewer respondents. Cost and fees continue to be the biggest barrier to dealer adoption (55% of the respondents agreeing). Almost the same number (54%) felt that the costs were high due to rapidly changing precision equipment, resulting in continual pressure to buy better technology and spend more to be able to provide the services demanded.

As this technology improves, however, some of the barriers are decreasing. As usability improves, it becomes less of a barrier to find employees who can deliver a precision package to customers (dropping from 49% of the respondents in 2009 to 44% in 2011). Demonstrating value to customers is decreasing as technology improves and becomes more accepted (dropping from 46% to 42% from 2009 to 2011). And as technologies start converging to standards, compatibility issues are becoming less of a problem for dealers (dropping from 49% to 41% of the respondents agreeing that it’s a barrier from 2009 to 2011).

Summary

As we move out of the early adoption phase of precision agriculture to more precise measurements and technologies, more compatibility between different technologies and better user interfaces, site-specific farming techniques are coming into their own. Similar to the adoption of smartphones and other wireless technologies among consumers, this then allows these technologies to become integral components of the ag industry.

Leave a Reply

Precision Ag Stories

Farmobile Dashboard Heat Map
Precision AgFarmobile’s EFR Dashboard Brings Real-Time Metrics To The Coffee Table
January 1, 2017
Farmobile is one of many data start-ups that we’ve been closely observing with a sense of keen curiosity since they 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
Precision AgTrimble Debuts End-to-End FMIS Platform
November 28, 2016
October’s inaugural PrecisionAg Vision Conference left this author with many thoughts and things to ponder in the coming months. Probably Read More
AGCO AgControl system
Precision AgPrecision Ag Technology: Rate Control For The Times
November 28, 2016
It’s not surprising that the need for more economical, effective application is driving the demand for the latest rate controllers Read More
Trending Articles
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
Precision AgTrimble Debuts End-to-End FMIS Platform
November 28, 2016
October’s inaugural PrecisionAg Vision Conference left this author with many thoughts and things to ponder in the coming months. Probably Read More
CHS Primeland
CropLife 100The 2016 CropLife 100 Report: Reviewing The Many Bulls And Bears Impacting This Year’s Marketplace
November 28, 2016
For virtually all of 2016, the nation was wholly focused on the big Presidential election. Some folks aligned themselves with Read More
Monsanto sign
Crop InputsMissouri Governor Meets With Bayer CEO To Discuss Monsanto Merger
November 21, 2016
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon visited Bayer AG global headquarters in Leverkusen, Germany, on November 18 to discuss the proposed Bayer-Monsanto Read More
Latest News
Eric SfiligojNo Alternative Facts: Dicamba Cropping System Applicato…
January 23, 2017
During President Donald Trump’s inauguration, much fuss was made over the use of the term “alternative facts” vs. some of Read More
Young Corn Plants
ManagementTimac Agro USA Acquires Michigan Ag Retailer
January 20, 2017
Timac Agro USA, an agriculture supply company specializing in high-efficiency plant and animal nutrition products, has acquired St. Louis,MI-based A&E Ag, Read More
Soybean field
Crop InputsNufarm Teams Up With John Deere Financial
January 19, 2017
Nufarm and John Deere Financial have teamed up to help farmers grow a better tomorrow. This program helps make purchases Read More
Sonny Perdue
LegislationTrump Formally Picks Perdue As Agriculture Secretary
January 19, 2017
U.S. President-elect Donald Trump officially announced Sonny Perdue as his choice for secretary of agriculture on Thursday, selecting a former Read More
ManagementPresident Trump, Wisconsin Review, and a Dow-DuPont Upd…
January 18, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj reflect on a new administration, a recent winter show, and crop protection company mergers. Read More
Industry NewsBayer, MS Technologies Get China Approval For Balance G…
January 18, 2017
MS Technologies and Bayer have received import approval from China for Balance GT soybeans. The new Balance GT Soybean Performance Read More
Werner Baumann, Bayer AG, and Hugh Grant, Monsanto
Industry NewsReport: Monsanto, Bayer CEOs Among Latest to Make Trump…
January 18, 2017
The chief executive officers of German chemical giant Bayer AG and U.S. seed behemoth Monsanto, Werner Baumann and Hugh Grant, Read More
Giant Ragweed
HerbicidesStudy: Focusing On Weed Seedbank Can Help Manage Herbic…
January 18, 2017
Researchers writing in the latest issue of the journal Weed Science provide important insights on the control of herbicide-resistant giant Read More
Management3 Financial Trends To Watch In Agriculture
January 17, 2017
I recently had the opportunity to attend a meeting of credit managers for Midwest ag supply and input companies, in part Read More
Andersons Retail Store
CropLife 100The Andersons To Close All Retail Stores; Shutdown Does…
January 16, 2017
In a stunning announcement to the Toledo area, The Andersons Inc. said on Sunday that it would close its two Read More
Trimble TMX-2050 In-Cab Display
Eric SfiligojPrecision To Lead Agriculture In 2017?
January 16, 2017
Another new year is upon us! And I’m certain I speak for many in the agricultural world when I say Read More
Corn
Eric SfiligojThe Mood From Madison? In A Holding Pattern
January 16, 2017
Last week, I had the chance to attend the annual Wisconsin AgriBusiness Classic show in Madison, WI. It’s been a Read More
Syngenta Sign
Crop InputsAccenture Helps Syngenta Transform Its Global Logistics
January 13, 2017
Syngenta, a leading agriculture company, has collaborated with Accenture to design and implement a new digital logistics operating model across Read More
Fall Creek Seth Harden The Nature Conservancy
StewardshipLocal Farmers’ Watershed Initiative: Continuous Improve…
January 13, 2017
The goal in the Big Pine Watershed Project is to more intentionally do what local farmers and responsible ag retailers Read More
HerbicidesEPA Expands Enlist Duo Herbicide Registration To 34 Sta…
January 13, 2017
The U.S. EPA has expanded the geography for application of Enlist Duo herbicide from 15 to 34 states. This means Read More
Olson Ag Enterprise
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis Acquires Nebraska Seed Retailer
January 13, 2017
Wilbur-Ellis’ Agribusiness, a recognized leader in precision agriculture technology and the distribution and marketing of plant protection, seed and nutritional Read More
ManagementDeere-Precision Planting Update and the Ag Secretary Wa…
January 12, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj provide the latest on the court date for John Deere/Precision Planting and the quest Read More
Monsanto sign
Seed/BiotechMonsanto, NRGene Form Agreement For Big Data Genomic An…
January 12, 2017
Monsanto Co. and NRGene have announced that the companies have reached a non-exclusive, multi-year global licensing agreement on NRGene’s genome-analysis Read More