Precision Agriculture Survey: What’s Next?

With the recession in the general economy causing fallout in the agricultural industry, there’s a question about what comes next for precision technology and services. Two areas explored further in the 14th Annual Precision Agriculture Survey were which emerging precision technologies would have the most impact on agricultural dealers’ businesses and what current barriers prevent further growth and expansion of precision agriculture. Investments made in a technology during a period of tight financial times may be a strong indicator of how integral that technology has become to a business. Based on survey responses this year, precision technology has certainly become an integral part of many crop input dealerships’ businesses.

When asked which technologies would have the most impact on their businesses in the future, the most common technologies mentioned by survey respondents were improvements in the overall use of GPS (especially with controller-driven application) and improvements in guidance systems (autosteer). Several respondents specifically mentioned RTK (real-time kinematic) satellite navigation and how the improved accuracy would be of real benefit to the effectiveness of precision technology. Some of the comments included:

“I feel VRT (variable-rate technology) will have the most effect. EPA regulations eventually will mandate nutrient runoff control in the Great Lakes watershed, especially now with a green-friendly administration in Washington, DC.” (OH)

Mapping Updates

Improvements and changes in mapping technologies were mentioned by several respondents. Several respondents mentioned the importance of having more accurate digitized maps and maps being compatible across different technologies. Comments included:

“Field mapping needs to be set up so when I go into a field all I have to do is turn the switch on and go, then be able to print it out. I don’t have time to calibrate, download, and correlate information from computer to GPS systems.” (PA)

“Digitized soil types mapping.” (IL)

Another closely related area was using yield data and integrating it with other data for better analysis. Developing fertilizer application recommendations based on yield replacement was seen to be the next step:

“Increase in VRT fertilizer utilizing customers’ GPS maps from the combine to replace nutrients removed from previous years.” (IL)

“Precision planting is the next big thing in our area. Also started with electrical conductivity (EC) mapping — got some guy going to try it and overlay their grids to that.” (IA)

“Yield data and other farm data management services: So many of our customers have the info or the ability to collect the info but lack the time, drive, or understanding of how to manage and utilize various data (yield maps, application records, as-applied, etc.).” (SD)

“[Combining] data from inputs all the way through yield. Data is more important than application. Growers want details on yield results from what is working and what is not.” (IA)

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. This was the same list of barriers that we asked about last year and in 2004 to see what impact the global recession has had on the potential growth of precision technologies. Figures 9, 10, and 11 show the percentage of respondents who agreed with each customer, dealer, and technology issue listed (rated a four or five out of five, where five is “strongly agree”).

The biggest customer issue impacting precision services this year is farm income, with half of the respondents indicating it would be a barrier to the expansion of precision agriculture in their area, compared to only one-third a year ago. The effect of income seemed to be much more limiting than the cost-benefit trade-off which did not change from last year. This suggests that the barrier is grower financial conditions, not a problem with reconciling the cost with expected benefits.

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. Pressure on service fees and high equipment costs were both less of an issue in 2009 than in 2008.

One of the biggest drops in concern was the issue of being able to create a precision program that was significantly better than a traditional program — declining from over one-third of the respondents rating it a barrier in 2008 (37%) to only 28% of the respondents in 2009. This is consistent with the other survey results that suggest as fertilizer prices remain relatively high, applying fertilizer material in a more “precise” manner is seen to be more effective.

The only technology issue that was rated more of a problem in 2009 was technology that is incompatible across equipment, with almost half of the respondents reporting it was a barrier to expansion. With several respondents indicating they wanted to integrate grower data such as yield map data with application data and EC data, the lack of compatibility may become more of a barrier until changes in software catch up. The overall cost of precision was less of a barrier than last year or 2004.

Summary

Overall, precision agriculture has become much more accepted as part of a grower’s way of farming as well as in the retail’s business. As money becomes tighter, the need to integrate precision data/information across equipment types more easily and with more accuracy and effectiveness becomes a bigger challenge. Results would suggest that growers and dealers believe that precision technology plays a bigger role when there is financial pressure.

Leave a Reply

Precision Ag Stories
Precision AgGoogle Glass: New Tool For Ag
October 8, 2014
New wearable smart technologies such as Google Glass show potential to greatly impact how we accomplish the business of feeding the world. Read More
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
Top 100 Articles
CropLife 100BRANDT Commemorates National Ag Day
March 20, 2015
The Illinois agriculture community gathered at BRANDT global headquarters on March 18 to celebrate National Ag Day behind this year's theme Sustaining Future Generations. Read More
Wheat Growers, North Central Farmers Elevator Pursue Merger
CropLife 100Wheat Growers, North Central Farmers Elevator Pursue Merger
March 3, 2015
Two CropLife 100 retailers — South Dakota Wheat Growers (ranked No. 11) and North Central Farmers Elevator (No. 19) — have entered into a Letter of Intent to unify the two companies into a newly named cooperative. Read More
Growmark Group
CropLife 100GROWMARK In 2015: Back, To The Future
March 2, 2015
The nation’s third largest ag retail organization is simultaneously moving forward while remembering its past. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Expands Sanders Brand In The South
February 27, 2015
Pinnacle has acquired Hopkins Seed and Chemical in Qulin, MO, which expands the company's Sanders brand to nine Southern states. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Launches New Providence Agriculture Location In Indiana
February 27, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings — ranked No. 6 on the CropLife 100 — has established a new retail location in New Castle, IN, which will operate as part of Pinnacle's Providence Agriculture brand. Read More
Carl Casale of CHS
CropLife 100Cooperative CHS Returns $518 Million To Owners
February 23, 2015
The 2015 cash return to owners is based on CHS net income of $1.1 billion, the company's second highest on record. Read More
Latest News
FungicidesSyngenta Suing Willowood Over Azoxystrobin Fungicide
March 27, 2015
Syngenta announced today that it has sued agrochemical maker Willowood, LLC., for patent and copyright infringement, as well as unfair Read More
ManagementRetail Week: The Future Of Mycogen Seeds; The 4Rs At Na…
March 27, 2015
Editors Eric Sfiligoj and Matt Hopkins discuss recent trips, including a look at the future of Mycogen Seeds at Dow Read More
Eric SfiligojMonsanto Hears The WHO
March 27, 2015
Another challenge to the safety of glyphosate, and the responses from supporters and opponents, calls to mind a classic Dr. Seuss story. Read More
Industry NewsMonty’s Plant Food Expands Sales Team
March 27, 2015
Monty’s Plant Food Company, a leader in natural soil enhancement and  plant fertility products, has hired Andrew Bullock as a Read More
Crop InputsSyngenta Louisiana Plant Poised For 2015 Production
March 26, 2015
As the 2015 planting season gets underway, growers across the country will need crop protection products to combat pests and Read More
Lake Erie Nutrient Stewardship
LegislationOhio Lawmakers Finalize Phosphorus Restrictions
March 25, 2015
State lawmakers on Wednesday finalized new rules designed to curb toxic algal blooms on Lake Erie, calling the regulations a major step forward in addressing the problem. Read More
Spreaders17 Fertilizer Spreaders For 2015
March 25, 2015
Manufacturers shoot for versatility and accuracy in this year's crop of fertilizer spreaders. Read More
Industry NewsMonty’s Hires Mid-South Product Consultant
March 25, 2015
Monty's Plant Food Co. has hired Matt Woodring as a Product Consultant for portions of Central Kentucky and Tennessee.    Read More
StewardshipMapShots Integrates With DriftWatch
March 23, 2015
Growers and agricultural providers using AgStudio FARM and AgStudio PRO can now view vital information about specialty crops and apiaries through a recent integration with the DriftWatch Specialty Crop Site Registry from FieldWatch, Inc. Read More
Crop InputsWorld Health Organization Report Contradicts Scientific…
March 23, 2015
A new report from the World Health Organization has classified glyphosate with a “2A” rating as a probable carcinogen, a Read More
Eric SfiligojSeed Treatment Stays Necessary
March 20, 2015
Grower-customers looking to scale back spending in 2015 won’t consider seed treatment, say experts. Read More
HerbicidesMARCH MADNESS: Industry Rallies Around Glyphosate Safet…
March 20, 2015
A newly published report from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies the herbicide glyphosate as a "2A-rated possible carcinogen" and the ag industry responds by circling the wagons. Read More
ManagementRetail Week: Precision survey, a technology acquisition…
March 20, 2015
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sflilgoj discuss recent travel, the upcoming precision adoption survey, and an unusual sighting at a Read More
CropLife 100BRANDT Commemorates National Ag Day
March 20, 2015
The Illinois agriculture community gathered at BRANDT global headquarters on March 18 to celebrate National Ag Day behind this year's theme Sustaining Future Generations. Read More
Crop InputsBioSafe Launching TerraGrow Soil Inoculant
March 20, 2015
TerraGrow is a blend of beneficial bacterial and fungal spores and nutrients carefully designed to promote healthier soil and crops. Read More
Winter Wheat
AdjuvantsMax Systems Debuts New Adjuvant NanoRevolution 2.0
March 18, 2015
Added to a tank mix of glyphosate at the conservative rate of two to four ounces per acre, NanoRevolution 2.0 has proven effective in killing resistant weed species that had already had up to two applications of the leading glyphosate product. Read More
Photo credit: United Soybean Board/the Soybean Checkoff
Seed/BiotechAgnition Launches Microbial Catalyst Seed Treatment
March 18, 2015
Agnition it has launched Commence for Soybeans, a microbial catalyst seed treatment for soybeans that stimulates microbial activity for healthier soil and a superior growth environment. Read More
4R Certified, Nutrient Stewardship Council,
StewardshipTyler Grain & Fertilizer Now 4R Certified
March 18, 2015
The 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program has announced Tyler Grain & Fertilizer Co. in Smithville, OH, has been added to Read More