Top 10 Precision Trends

The CropLife/Purdue Precision Agriculture Adoption Survey involves a five-month process of intensive work. The questionnaire is tweaked and tuned to collect information relevant to today, while much of the core survey remains the same to ensure its relevance to data collected in the late 1990s. After two rounds of mailings, results are compiled and interpreted into the main report presented in the preceeding pages.

This year, Purdue’s Bruce Erickson, who did the lion’s share of the work on the survey, and Paul Schrimpf had a “debriefing” conversation about the survey findings and came up with 10 key trends that the survey seems to indicate.

1. Covering Costs
Precision profits are still hard to come by, with 57% of respondents reporting they are not covering their fixed costs or making a profit — the same percentage as in the 2009 survey.

2. Optimism Outweighs Realities, But …
On surveys dating back to almost the beginning, we have asked retailers to project out three years as to the growth or decline of precision agriculture services in their businesses. And historically, optimism has reigned about the future of precision technology. The reality, however, has virtually never matched what the retailer anticipates, or hopes, will come true.

This year, the average increase in the major precision offerings were anticipated to grow anywhere from 6% to 10% by 2014. But while the actual percentage has never panned out, the significant degree of future optimism indicates that retailers are feeling positive about future prosperity derived from the services they offer.

3. Precision Is Mainstreaming
A curious “trend” expressed in the survey results was that the number of retailers offering precision agriculture “services” appears to be dropping in key categories, including georeferenced soil sampling and fieldmapping with GIS. Certainly, retailers may be outsourcing these services to other entities, or some growers might be doing some of this work on their own.

But we also feel that it’s just as likely an indication that these services have become so integrated into full-service retailers that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to separate it out as an a la carte service. Precision services are packaged up into a larger, more holistic offering.

4. Spatial Precision Still Too Complex
Precision technology has experienced some points of exponential growth in recent years, but virtually all of them have benefits that are essentially efficiency-oriented. Adoption of precision practices that involve collecting, interpreting and taking action of data have remained relatively stagnant over several surveys. In the early part of the 2000s, a challenged farm economy took a significant toll on the use of techniques such as variable-rate fertilizer (VRA), and revealed that income challenged farmers did not have much stomach for georeferenced fertilizer recommendations when inputs were high and crop prices low.

Could regulation aimed at reducing fertilizer use inject life into VRA fertilizer practices? Could better, more compatible systems make a difference? Or could improvements in on-the-go sensor technology help to reduce complexity and improve adoption? It’s a longer term issue the precision industry will continue to deal with in the years ahead.

5. Lightbars Finally On The Ropes?
Automatic guidance has continued its torrid adoption pace, approaching two-thirds of retail respondents to the survey. The technology debuted on the survey in 2004 at less than 5%, so its rise as an agricultural technology could legitimately be called meteoric. And this year, we’re observing a virtually equal and opposite drop in the use of “manual guidance,” i.e. lightbars. With improving pricepoints and wider options than ever, it seems that we are seeing a “replacement” effect of one technology for the other.

6. Section Control … Zero To Hero
Thanks to its inclusion in virtually all professional grade sprayers today, and the retailer’s tendency to replace equipment on a fairly regular time interval, sprayer boom control has risen a gleam in someone’s eye to nearly four in 10 respondents using the technology over less than five years. For stewardship, efficiency, and product-saving, it’s a no-brainer capability for most retailers.

7. VRA Seeding Interest Explosion
Driven by the availability of highly precise seed clutch technology and embraced by seed companies trying to help growers optimize their seed planting and placement (and efficiently plant seeds that are increasing in price virtually every year), variable rate seeding is revealed on the survey as a significant area of interest. While there are conflicting views on the overall benefits of seed rate variation, it seems likely that it will continue to grow and mature as a precision ag technique and technology.

8. Barriers To Adoption: A Meaningful Drop?
We found it surprising that there is still so much concern about equipment compatibility and cost as barriers to retail adoption of technology. It’s true that both factors still hover around the 50% area, but vs. the 2004 survey, the number has dropped significantly. Recent industry alliances, pledges of enhanced compatibility and dropping prices on some of the most powerful technology may finally be eroding these as key challenges to retailer adoption.

9. Cost Reduction Is The Ultimate End
With the increasing cost of seed and inputs and spiking prices on the grain markets, the end game for technology up to now has most successfully focused on reducing risk and cost savings rather than on generating revenue. The next big thing — telemetry that ultimately transmit both highly accurate GPS signals and the Internet for data movement and collection — will tend to keep the focus in these areas.

10. Untangling GPS
Global positioning has gotten increasingly complex with the proliferation of real-time kinematic technology and, more recently, cellular-based signal alternatives. To get precision adoption beyond its current state, signal consistency and compatibility is needed.

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