Ship Shape

The high tide raises all boats, and that was certainly true for the good ship “Ag Technology” on the seas of agriculture in 2008. Across practitioner groups, retailers to consumers to growers were investing dollars in yield-boosting, efficiency-building technology.

“With the ramp-up in grain prices over the past couple of years, farmers have had more money to invest in upgrading their operations,” notes Harold Reetz, director of external support, Foundation For Agronomic Research — and long-time precision champion. New tractors, combines, and other equipment have brought a new wave of farmers into the world of precision farming technology, and have allowed early adopters to upgrade to newer versions of hardware and software tools.

Dave King, marketing manager with Ag Leader Technology, agrees. “I think an interesting trend is that for as long as precision farming has been around we are just now starting to get past the early adopters.  There has been a large increase in first-time buyers of precision farming hardware this year.  The rising costs of inputs have made everyone start to think about how they can save money.”

What are they buying? “They are buying everything,” says King. “Some are starting with guidance, while others are starting with application control or planting. It just depends on what the farmer sees as the best fit for their operation right now. We are also seeing people who took the first step a year or two ago come back and add additional precision farming products.”

Good news? Yes, as long as it all works. “Are we providing enough opportunities for these new clients to learn about their new tools?” asks Reetz. “Do we have sufficient support staff available? These are important questions to answer, and important opportunities to provide service and support and build a tighter relationship with key customers.”

Reviewing The Year

Beyond the generally upbeat market this year, here are some additional observations from “the year that was.”

Closing The Data Loop. While new field technology like automatic steering and boom control has been flying out the door, data consistency and connectivity also made strides in 2008. Mark Waits, marketing manager with SST Software, says that the most compelling technology trend he’s seen is the movement towards efficient data communication between desktop and field computers.

“We see a continuing trend in the combining of traditional precision agriculture technologies with information management practices for a more complete decision support system,” says Waits. “There is a growing interest by precision agriculture equipment manufacturers to ramp up recordkeeping features for their customers. This will have a profound effect on the information management side of precision agriculture, which is where we would argue the real decision-making, as well as the compliance benefits, are found.”

Waits asserts that there is an emerging need for devices to “talk” to one another with little or no file management by the user. “In time, we think a desktop computer and an in-field device will be able to wirelessly and synchronously exchange data,” he explains. “When that happens, seed and variable-rate fertility recommendations, crop plans, etc. will flow seamlessly from an agronomist’s desktop computer to a grower or applicator in the field. All as-applied data could ‘synch’ back to the agronomist creating a true collaborative recordkeeping system that will yield a lot of valuable information for growers.”

Building In Precision. Mike Gomes, product manager at Topcon-Sauer Danfoss, says that manufacturers are more often building capabilities into the equipment. “OEMs such as AGCO are coming out with their next-generation products, such as Auto Guide 2, that are continually more embedded or integrated into the equipment,” says Gomes. They use the existing display in the tractor, existing steering valve and wheel angle sensor, etc., and this is a trend I believe we will see continue.”

Partnering Up. Gomes also sees a continuation of the kinds of partnerships that manufacturers have been forming over the past few months as a way to stay competitive in the marketplace. “Consolidation will occur as more industry players form strategic relationships to shore up any perceived weaknesses or ‘gaps’ in their product lines to offer a more solutions-oriented product offering,” says Gomes.

Developments in Telemetry. Data movement via cellular technology took big leaps forward, with the release of several new logistics and field communication programs. The October issue of CropLife® (“Rethinking Everything”) presents one example of the power of cellular communication. Equipment manufacturer GVM recently threw its hat in the ring with a logistics program of its own, GVM Telematics. Aaron Hunt, who is working on the project for GVM, admits that high-speed cellular data coverage has expanded into the rural areas much faster than he had anticipated.

“This has opened up a host of new technologies to precision agriculture that were either not previously possible or prohibitively expensive,” he says. “The new technology that has grabbed a lot of attention and interest in the past year has been telematics.”

Telematics includes the real-time GPS tracking of moving assets and the remote management of internet-capable displays in the field, including remote desktop control and the wireless push of application files and workorders. “Telematics systems have opened up new ways for operators and fleet managers to optimize their field operations, saving money on overhead cost and creating greater potential income through more efficient use of current assets,” says Hunt.

Leave a Reply

Precision Ag Stories

EquipmentWhat Does FBN’s Latest Attempt At Disintermediation Really Mean For Ag Retailers?
February 6, 2017
When Farmer’s Business Network (FBN), the Silicon Valley-based ag data startup that promises to leverage all kinds of on-farm data Read More
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
Trending Articles
Farmer and aptop
Matt Hopkins10 Warning Signs Your Website Is Grossly Outdated
February 8, 2017
Your Website is often a visitor’s first impression of your ag retail business. A positive first impression can set the Read More
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
Latest News
Roy Blunt
LegislationARA Recognizes Blunt, Heitkamp For Legislative Efforts …
February 17, 2017
Agricultural industry continues to face federal regulatory challenges. Thankfully, agriculture’s allies in the U.S. Senate stepped forward. The Agricultural Retailers Read More
LegislationThe Fertilizer Institute Commends Senate On Confirmatio…
February 17, 2017
The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) President Chris Jahn issued the following statement on the Senate confirmation of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Read More
Trump, Senate, Cabinet
LegislationBREAKING: Trump EPA Nominee Scott Pruitt Confirmed by S…
February 17, 2017
Scott Pruitt, who as Oklahoma’s attorney general spent years suing the Environmental Protection Agency over its efforts to regulate various Read More
ManagementFebruary Road Trip Edition
February 17, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss their recent visits to Indiana and Kentucky. Read More
Heritage Cooperative Finished Building Aerial
ManagementHeritage Cooperative, Agland Co-op Approve Merger
February 17, 2017
Agland Co-op and Heritage Cooperative stockholders have both approved the merger agreement between Agland Co-op and Heritage Cooperative. Now begins Read More
LegislationARA Fly-In: Ag Retail Descends on Capitol Hill, Lawmake…
February 15, 2017
More than 100 agricultural retailers, distributors and suppliers headed to Capitol Hill Tuesday morning for the Agribusiness Congressional Fly-in, according to a Read More
Untreated soybean seed Heartland Coop
Seed/BiotechMarrone Bio Innovations, Groundwork BioAg Bio-stacked M…
February 13, 2017
Marrone Bio Innovations, Inc. and Groundwork BioAg, Ltd have announced successful seed treatment field trials of the world’s first all-biological Read More
NL5000 With G5 Technology
SpreadersNew Leader Introduces NL5000 Dry Nutrient Applicator Wi…
February 13, 2017
New Leader, a division of Highway Equipment Company (HECO), has announced the next generation of spreading technology with the NL5000 Read More
Fertilizer Storage
Crop InputsThe State Of The Fertilizer Industry
February 9, 2017
He’s all hat, no horse.” It’s a humorous way of describing a person who tells a good story, but is Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Agriculture Agrees To Credit Agreement Amendme…
February 9, 2017
Pinnacle Operating Corp. has entered into an amendment (the “Amendment”) to its First Lien Credit Agreement that will provide for, Read More
ManagementUpdates on Upcoming Trips, Dow-DuPont, and the Des Moin…
February 9, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj review a few future travels, along with the latest on big company mergers and Read More
Championship Tractor Pull
EquipmentNational Farm Machinery Show Highlighted By Championshi…
February 9, 2017
The scream of monster engines, the stench of burning rubber and the ground-pounding vibrations of the country’s largest, loudest and Read More
Farmer and aptop
Matt Hopkins10 Warning Signs Your Website Is Grossly Outdated
February 8, 2017
Your Website is often a visitor’s first impression of your ag retail business. A positive first impression can set the Read More
Corn Field
InsecticidesArysta LifeScience, DuPont Collaborate On Rynaxpyr Prem…
February 8, 2017
Arysta LifeScience recently announced that it has entered into a global collaboration with DuPont Crop Protection for the development of Read More
Industry NewsThe Fertilizer Institute Board Elects New Chairman, Vic…
February 8, 2017
The Fertilizer Institute’s (TFI) Board of Directors has elected Chuck Magro, President and CEO of Agrium, and Tony Will, President Read More
Sonny Perdue
ManagementARA Joins More Than 600 Organizations In Support Of Per…
February 8, 2017
The Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) recently joined with more than 600 agricultural groups on a letter of support for Governor Read More
World Agri-Tech Innovation Summit Panel 2016
Crop InputsWorld Agri-Tech Innovation Summit To Be Held In San Fra…
February 8, 2017
“Breakthrough Applications and Business Models for Sustainable Farming” is the theme of the World Agri-Tech Innovation Summit to be held Read More
Cedar Country Cooperative
Eric SfiligojConsolidation In Agriculture: More Middle Movement
February 7, 2017
If you’ve regularly followed my column, you know I’m something of a movie junkie. Like many, one of my favorite Read More