Top 5 Trends In Agriculture Technology

Emerging technology is arguably one of the most significant issues ahead for ag retailers. It is in that spirit that I present my top five technology trends, picked out as being the most important from the perspective of an information technology company.

1. Education. The first and probably the most important topic is education. With the rapid advances in computers and communication, it has become increasingly difficult for anyone in the agricultural community to keep pace with technical changes impacting field production. From understanding the genetics of seed relative to an environment, evaluating the best fertilizers, selecting the right combination of pesticides, or just understanding the day-to-day logistics of a farm operation, education is paramount for success.

In the near future, successful retailers will not be judged by price alone but also according to the materials they recommend in production and their support of sustainability practices on a farm. Consequently, retailers must develop a more “holistic” view of a farming operation. They must understand how each decision through a growing season impacts the next decision and how, collectively, decisions impact the environment and the final produce delivered to the food supply chain. Knowledge of production practices will be demanded not only by regulatory agencies but also be growing segment of the consuming public. The anticipated upstream pressure from the food supply chain can be met with on-farm operation that has accountability and traceability.

A subtler need in education is the modern understanding of integrated pest management (IPM) practices. With the rise of resistant pests, the choice of pest controls must be done more intelligently. Control decisions will require seasonal observations on the presence and movement of pests along with models predicting their future development. Visual observations will give way to diagnostic tests and written records will be replaced by electronic input using applications on smart mobile devices. Retailers that gravitate to these new tools and programs will save time and resources.

2. “Big Data.” Companies involved with the processing and storing of data refer to increasing amounts of computer-generated information as the “big data” challenge. As information becomes critical for good decision-making whether as part of the in-field support of a customer or between employees in a company, data must be collected, stored and interpreted in a timely manner. This data processing requires the maintenance of local computers and communication networks and their integration with systems over the Internet or “in the cloud.” Because of the overhead cost to maintain local computers and networks, many retailers will likely look to “cloud” solutions to process their data. That is, they will pay a fixed annual fee to remotely access computer and network services.

Remote access has the benefit of having a third-party hosting and maintaining the computer and communication infrastructure.  However, one big negative is that retailer’s data, because it is stored offsite, will be at the mercy of the third-party’s security solutions.  Consequently, a retailer must investigate the security track record of any third-party before signing on to their services.

Assuming a secure computer and communication infrastructure, whether local or remote, the processing of data, themselves, will continue to be a challenge. In order to use data in decision making, a retailer must ingest data, use formulas or models and visualization tools to convert them into usable products, integrate the various products, which can be in the form of text, graphs, tables, or maps, to create an operational “picture” of crop production in the field, and finally interpret this picture for the appropriate decisions during a growing season. Retailers would likely rely on information technology (IT) companies to assist in the processing of data for production decision making.

3. Robotics. Robotics is the use of robots or automated machines in place of humans to process information or to perform physical tasks. When you mention robots, most people think of an assembly line with robot arms constructing cars. But robotics is much more than that. It can be in the form voice recognition software that answers verbal questions from customers. It can be in the form of software that processes data and makes recommendations for production practices. In one sense, this software can be thought of as a “virtual” field manager. In the next few years, software mimicking the decision making of a manager will become increasingly important because of the “big data” challenge. No human can process the flood of data and other information in a timely manner to make a decision. Consequently, retailers will have to rely on software to ingest, convert, and integrate data into products and recommendations. Managers will still make the final decision but at a much higher, informed level by viewing products and recommendations. The same software for processing data can be used to send alerts to field managers about important events, such as severe weather.

The more classical role of robots will also become evident on the farm but at a much slower rate. Autonomous machines that are remotely directed using telematics will begin to appear in a limited role in the next few years.  These machines will first be employed in repetitive, simple tasks, such as for the loading and unloading of materials. Eventually, these machines will take the form of autonomous tractors planting seed, spreading fertilizers, applying chemicals, and harvesting crops.

Pages: 1 2

Topics:

Leave a Reply

2 comments on “Top 5 Trends In Agriculture Technology

  1. value addition to products has been the top trends in our country Nigeria for now.These trends you have mentioned are yet to be thought of.Indeed Technology and production needs to be better up.

Management Stories

LegislationUSDA: Quick Implementation Of Disaster Assistance Programs A ‘Top Priority’
July 9, 2014
USDA has processed 106,000 payments to farmers in 40 states across the country who suffered livestock and grazing losses between Oct. 2011 and passage of the 2014 Farm Bill. Read More
LegislationTFI Praises White House For Signing WRRDA Into Law
June 11, 2014
The bill streamlines U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects, prioritizes authorized waterway improvements and provides needed adjustments to the Inland Waterways Trust Fund. Read More
Allied Cooperative Grain Plant
ManagementAllied Cooperative, Arcadia Co-op Plan Merger
June 10, 2014
The Board of Directors of Allied Cooperative and Arcadia Co-op recently signed a letter of intent for a merger between the two cooperatives. Read More
EmployeesSyngenta: ‘Take Charge’ Of Farm Safety
June 4, 2014
Syngenta and health officials warn of four health-related challenges in agriculture and how they can be managed. 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