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

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
Todd Golly and UAVs
Precision AgReal-World UAV Experience In Agriculture
February 3, 2014
Minnesota grower Todd Golly shares his views on the use of unmanned aerial vehicles. Read More

Trending Articles

Green Valley Ag facility
Retail FacilitiesGreen Valley Ag Adopts A.J. Sackett’s Precision Fertilizer Blending® Technology At New Facility
July 8, 2014
Sackett's Precision Fertilizer Blending® Technology is making huge strides around the world. Green Valley Ag adopts the technology at its new facility to support its advancing agronomic needs. Read More
Retail FacilitiesWaconia Manufacturing Builds Facility Designed For Speed, Efficiency
July 7, 2014
To make its new hub facility more efficient, Cooperative Elevator enlisted the aid of Waconia Manufacturing. Read More
EquipmentSummer Show Preview 2014: Superior Sprayers Take The Field
July 3, 2014
In this final installment of our coverage of the major categories of Big IRON that retailers can expect to test-drive at this summer’s events, here is a look at 19 sprayers. Read More
Scouting a soybean patch at Green Valley Ag.
EmployeesCropLife Compensation Survey: Battling Talent Drain
July 2, 2014
Retailers too often lose employees to companies outside of agriculture, while recruiting efforts are most often limited to competitors and other ag-focused organizations. Read More
HerbicidesDow AgroSciences Introduces SureStart II Herbicide
June 16, 2014
The enhanced formulation has improved viscosity and increased stability under heat and controls more than 60 high-anxiety grasses and broadleaf weeds found in corn fields. Read More
HerbicidesBASF Investing $270 Million To Expand U.S. Herbicide Production
June 11, 2014
BASF has invested more than $270 million to expand herbicide production capacities in the U.S., including more than 20 new products to be launched over next two years. Read More

Latest News

StewardshipMonsanto Joins Panel Of Innovators To Advance Research …
July 30, 2014
Monsanto Co. and The Climate Corp., its division, recently joined a roundtable of experts at the White House to share ideas and research approaches to help the world’s farmers manage and adapt to the impact of climate change on the global food supply. Read More
Crop InputsSoybean Checkoff Produces Big ROI
July 30, 2014
Under the soy checkoff program, all U.S. soybean farmers contribute a small percentage of their gross soybean sales for research and marketing projects that maximize their profit potential. Read More
CropLife 100Learfield Sports, CHS Agree To Football-Centric, Colleg…
July 30, 2014
CHS Inc. will embark on a highly integrated collegiate sports sponsorship platform with 24 Division I universities in 19 states designed to reach the farmer-owned cooperative's rural owners and customers. Read More
LegislationUSDA Implements Key Farm Bill Crop Insurance Provision
July 30, 2014
The new Supplemental Coverage Option, available through the federal crop insurance program and set to begin with the 2015 crop year, is designed to help protect producers from yield and market volatility. Read More
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis Forms New Organizational Structure For Its…
July 30, 2014
The new structure will provide more responsive internal support and will allow regional vice presidents and area managers to spend more time with customers, on talent development and on operational excellence across branches. Read More
Palmer pigweed in cotton
HerbicidesNew Training Modules On Herbicide Resistance Now Availa…
July 30, 2014
The Weed Science Society of America has announced the availability of three new education modules on herbicide resistance in weeds. Read More
HerbicidesWillowood To Market Glufosinate
July 28, 2014
Willowood USA recently announced that Federal EPA has approved its technical registration for glufosinate. Read More
InsecticidesHow To Scout For Corn Earworms In Corn
July 28, 2014
In her weekly report, University of Missouri Agronomy Specialist Jill Scheidt discusses what to look for when scouting for corn earworm. Read More
Crop InputsDuPont Pioneer, Weyerhaeuser Enter Technology License A…
July 28, 2014
The agreement brings together agricultural and forestry know-how to sustainably improve crop productivity for corn growers around the world. Read More
EquipmentAGCO Launches Global iPad App
July 28, 2014
The free AGCO Global iPad App can be downloaded from the Apple iTunes Store and features the full family of RoGator self-propelled sprayers and TerraGator high-floatation spreaders. Read More
Eric SfiligojYuma Centennial Ag Supply Earns 2014 National Environme…
July 28, 2014
Colorado-based ag retailer receives top trophy in 24th annual DuPont Crop Protection/CropLife ceremony. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Forms Alliance With Wildlife Managment, Seed O…
July 25, 2014
The strategic alliance will provide Tecomate with key wildlife products, processing facilities, distribution centers and sales through Pinnacle’s ever-growing retail network. Read More
ManagementFranken Presses White House On RFS Support
July 25, 2014
Al Franken and a group of Senate democrats recently met with senior White House official John Podesta to urge the administration to change its position on an EPA proposal. Read More
ManagementASA, FarmLink To Launch ‘Operation Benchmark̵…
July 25, 2014
The American Soybean Association (ASA) and FarmLink are teaming up to help farmers close the $11 billion gap between what they harvested in 2013 and what they could harvest annually. Read More
StewardshipNorthey: Farmers Commit $1.4 Million to Try New Water Q…
July 25, 2014
The practices that are eligible for funding include cover crops, no-till or strip till and using a nitrification inhibitor when applying fall fertilizer. Read More
Precision AgFarmers Learn How Changing World Will Impact Iowa
July 24, 2014
Technology and understanding global consumer demand for Iowa farm products brought hundreds of farmers and agribusiness leaders to Ames recently for the annual Iowa Farm Bureau Federation Economic Summit. Read More
HerbicidesPurdue: Late Season Weeds May Require Manual Removal
July 24, 2014
Hand-rouging and pulling late season weeds by hand may be the best way to remove them, more so than using a herbicide, a Purdue Extension weed scientist says. Read More
Soybean Field
InsecticidesTransform WG, Closer SC Insecticides Receive R&D 10…
July 23, 2014
Dow AgroSciences has received the award from R&D Magazine for Transform WG insecticide and Closer SC insecticide with Isoclast active. Read More