Top Tech Trends To Watch

In 2007, CropLife® magazine’s two benchmarking surveys — the Precision Agriculture Adoption survey conducted in the winter, and the E-Survey, a computer and technology adoption survey conducted in the fall, didn’t end up revealing any particularly sweeping trends in retail use of technology. But there have been significant changes in the technology arena under the surface, both for manufacturers of technology products and for the retailers that use them.

As the managers of our sister brand, PrecisionAg, we’ve been deeply tied into the world of ag technology from both the retailer and the grower perspective. So we’re taking advantage of our position here to prognosticate on what we see coming in the world of agricultural technology in 2008 — what will be hot, what will be not, and so forth. We’ll check back in this space in December’s issue to see how we did, whether we have something to crow about — or if we have to eat crow.

1. Power Of Telemetry

Blackberries have brought e-mail to everyone on the road, wherever the user happens to be. But e-mail is just one software tool in a potentially massive toolbox, given the right receiver appliance and the right hardware driving it. With improvements to the “handheld device of choice” and specially designed software, telemetry could bring enormous capabilities and tools to bear in agriculture.

It’s out there and working in the technology-leading industries. For example, in health care, doctors now carry tablet notebooks at patient visits, allowing them to write and submit prescriptions without picking up the phone. Cardiologists can receive signals from a monitor hooked up to a patient that provide real-time heart monitoring information anywhere the doctor can receive a cell signal.

In agriculture, software manufacturer SSI is working on a rollout of a new program that will use telemetry to allow a home base computer to communicate with applicators in the field using a program that runs on a cell phone. The program will provide turn-by-turn navigation from job site to job site for the rig operator, record and download application data in real time, and provide the ability to track the rig’s movement throughout the day. This isn’t about being Big Brother — using this information, it will be possible to route machinery more efficiently and to find inefficiencies that are not possible to detect from a distance.

2. GPS Steering Fully Matures

When GPS steering first debuted in 1999, it was largely reserved for folks who could generate enough profit to pay the hefty entry fee. Today, there’s something for just about every level of use, and most manufacturers have filled in their lines, either through their own initiatives or through partnerships with other manufacturers.

For example, Autofarm, which specializes in high end real-time kinematic (RTK) steering systems; and Raven, which delivered a wide range of steering options using free and subscription-based satellite signals, are partnering on product development to serve a wider range of customers.

Hemisphere GPS, which manufactures the Outback Guidance line of products, purchased BEELINE, which produces GPS steering software. Outback will now have the ability to add accuracy to its line of GPS steering products, which to date had just one entry in the RTK steering category, the Baseline.

As the market further matures in 2008, look for more of this type of collaboration, and potentially some market shakeout if companies can’t keep up with the trend.

3. GPS Everywhere

We’ve seen an explosion of global positioning hitting the consumer market, which is serving to bring price points down for basic equipment and has manufacturers thinking about ways to help consumers get the most out of the GPS systems they buy. Given the number of cars that build in GPS systems as a high end option, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to expect that by next model year, GPS will be standard equipment on most vehicles. New product development should serve to keep prices going down, while improving functionality for all forms of GPS.

4. Growers Getting Technology

Implement steering, which actually steers the pull-behind tillers, applicators, and planters in addition to the tractors and ensures better row accuracy, has taken off among growers, especially those doing strip-till. A second technology, GPS controlled planter clutches, has been widely embraced by OEMs and in little more than a year has become standard. With growers gaining so much control over every row, from seed count to fertilizer application to tillage, their expectations of the accuracy from retailer service will be that much higher.

5. Food Safety

Could 2008 finally be the year that traceability issues come to the fore? After a number of disturbing revelations about food by-products coming in from China, and e-coli contamination domestically in beef and produce, the public — and in response, the government — have taken notice of the holes in our ability to track and trace food. Another significant scare with a national election on the horizon could push it over the edge.

Leave a Reply

Featured Stories

CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis To Relocate Agribusiness Division To Denver
July 16, 2014
The move Eastward will allow Wilbur-Ellis’ Agribusiness Division to be more accessible to relevant geographies and is expected to enhance communication and collaboration among the division’s nearly 3,000 employees. Read More
Soybean field
FungicidesValent Launches New Seed Protection Fungicide For Soybeans
July 16, 2014
The INTEGO SUITE System contains the first new, novel seed protection fungicide chemistry registered in 30 years by the EPA for protection against Pythium and Phytophthora. Read More
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
Eric SfiligojDoes Biotech Crop Labeling Really Matter?
July 7, 2014
Initiatives to label products made with biotech crops are intensifying. But should the industry continue to fight them? Read More

Trending Articles

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
EquipmentGPS: 25 Years And Still Growing
June 2, 2014
The evolution of global positioning systems applications in agriculture remains ongoing as the technology hits a notable milestone. Read More
CropLife 10013 Key Acquisitions Pinnacle Has Made In The First Half Of 2014
May 29, 2014
The only thing that has reached a more frenzied pace than #plant14 might be the multiple acquisitions that Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings has made in the first half of the year. Read More

Latest News

FungicidesEPA OKs Two Willowood Fungicides
July 21, 2014
The EPA has approved Willowood Azoxy 2SC and Willowood AzoxyProp Xtra. two widely used broad spectrum, preventative fungicides with systemic and curative properties. Read More
Precision AgFarmers Learning Fast As UAVs Take Off
July 17, 2014
Farmers and others interested in how UAVs can be used in agricultural applications were able to learn more about the technology during the recent Precision Aerial Ag Show. Read More
CropLife 100Bobby Knight, Richard Petty To Highlight Ag PhD Field D…
July 17, 2014
Attendees at the July 24 Ag PhD Field Day at Hefty Farms will learn about the latest agricultural technologies, and get a chance to meet legendary sports figures Bobby Knight and Richard Petty. Read More
WebinarsUpcoming Webinars
July 17, 2014
Register for one of our upcoming Webinars or access our archive of past Webinars to view recordings of presentations that may be of interest to you. Read More
A finished Willmar 16-ton side-shooting tender.
TendersNew Production Facility Helps Willmar
July 17, 2014
In 1963, a group of businessmen started Willmar. Today, a half-century later, the company is one of the ag industry’s longest-running brands. Read More
FertilizerCF Industries Sells Carbon Credits To Chevrolet, Donate…
July 17, 2014
CF Industries has completed the sale of a large block of carbon reduction credits to Chevrolet, and will donate the net proceeds of $600,000 to the National FFA Foundation. Read More
CropLife 100Grainland Cooperative, Minier Cooperative Grain To Merg…
July 17, 2014
The shareholders of Grainland Cooperative and Minier Cooperative Grain Co. approved a merger of company operations effective August 1, 2014. Read More
ManagementStudy: Drought Costing California Billions
July 17, 2014
A new study has found the drought has cost the state $2.2 billion, primarily in lost farm revenue and wages. Read More
FertilizerCF Industries Resumes Production At Oklahoma Nitrogen C…
July 17, 2014
The company had shut down production at the Woodward, OK, facility in April to address an issue in one of the site’s boilers. Read More
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis To Relocate Agribusiness Division To Denve…
July 16, 2014
The move Eastward will allow Wilbur-Ellis’ Agribusiness Division to be more accessible to relevant geographies and is expected to enhance communication and collaboration among the division’s nearly 3,000 employees. Read More
Soybean field
FungicidesValent Launches New Seed Protection Fungicide For Soybe…
July 16, 2014
The INTEGO SUITE System contains the first new, novel seed protection fungicide chemistry registered in 30 years by the EPA for protection against Pythium and Phytophthora. Read More
Crop InputsSyngenta Drive To Thrive 10 Finalists Announced
July 15, 2014
Finalists are chosen based on the quality of their essays and photos depicting what makes them thrive. Read More
FertilizerHow To Minimize Phosphorus Losses In Runoff
July 15, 2014
Phosphorus losses from agricultural fields can be divided into three categories: flash losses of soluble phosphorus, slow leak losses and erosion events. Here's how to minimize losses in each instance. Read More
ManagementCalifornia Drought Threatens To Dry Up Farm Wells
July 15, 2014
Farmers hit hardest by California's drought could begin to see wells run dry next year, according to a new study by The Center for Watershed Sciences at the University of California, Davis. Read More
Precision AgPoll: Do you plan to attend this year’s InfoAg Co…
July 14, 2014
This year’s InfoAg Conference is just two weeks away. The premier event in precision agriculture takes place July 29-31 at Read More
LegislationFarm Bill Implementation Continues
July 14, 2014
The bill provides $28 billion over the next five years for conservation on private lands while streamlining several old programs and creating new ones like the Regional Conservation Partnership Program. Read More
MicronutrientsH.J. Baker Continues Expansion Of Atmore Facility
July 14, 2014
The company has improved its molten sulphur unloading system to help meet increased sulphur demand at Tiger-Sul’s Atmore, AL, facility. Read More
Stewardship4R Certification Training Kicks Off As Lake Erie Algae …
July 14, 2014
As scientists prepare for the coming season of potential algae blooms on Lake Erie, nutrient service providers have been signing up for the 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification program at a steady pace. Read More