What's Next in Precision Ag: 10 Experts Answer

Published online: Jul 31, 2011
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Technology of all kinds is changing rapidly, and it's a challenge to keep up and keep it all straight. Some of the smartest industry friends and experts weigh in on that quest with surprising and valuable answers.

What is the most important emerging technology that will have a significant impact on precision agriculture use and/or adoption?

1. Harold Reetz, President, Reetz Agronomics  Monticello, IL-- " The hardware of precision farming will continue to be more sophisticated. Use of GPS/RTK guidance systems will expand rapidly. Yield monitors, system controllers and sensor systems will continue to evolve."

2. Francis J. Pierce and Pete Nowak
, Principals of AgInfomatics, LLC , Professor Emeritus, Washington State University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, respectively.--  "Fifty years ago, author Keith Mor­gan, in making the case for automation as essential to the future of ag, acknowledged the difficulties of this endeavor in an article in New Scientist:                  "But the automation of agricultural processes is made difficult by the variable nature of environmental conditions, by the variable qualities of the raw materials and end products, by the extensive, out-of-doors nature of many of the process, by the low value of the end products, by the small scale of many agricultural enterprises, and by the farmers' limited capital resources."

3. John Fulton
, Associate Professor and Extension Specialist, Biosystems Engineering  Auburn University-- "Individual row control on planters will be one technology that enhances crop production in the future. This technology controls or drives row units independent of one another (e.g., Raven's OmniRow) vs. the whole planter or sections being controlled concurrently. As the size of planters has increased, so has the risk of off-rate errors."

4. Bruce Erickson
, Associate Director, Center for Commercial Agriculture Department of Agricultural Economics Purdue University -- "On-the-go soil nutrient sensors have the potential to turn a page in precision farming. While guidance technologies and the related applications of automated planter row controls and sprayer boom section and nozzle controls are becoming mainstream agriculture, the site-specific part where field variability is measured and managed with variable amounts of inputs such as pesticides, seeds and fertilizers (VRT) has yet to hit its stride. Crop nutrients are a logical place for the site-specific part to prove its worth - they are one of the farmer's biggest inputs, their use can directly influence crop responses, and there are critical environmental ramifications as well."

5. Dan Frieberg, Premier Crop Systems LLC  West Des Moines, IA -- "The most powerful emerging technology is that for the first time, growers can make decisions on their own data. Data-driven decision making is going to fundamentally change crop production."

6. Robert Blair, Grower and Precision Technology Expert  Kendrick, ID -- "Timely Information for better management decisions is the key to a successful operation, for both the provider and customer. Information regarding weeds, diseases, nutrient and water needs will become critical in the future due to costs, environmental impact and government regulations. To obtain that information, remote sensing will have a significant impact in the years to come."

7. Jeremy Wilson, Technology Specialist  CropIMS  Effingham, IL -- "The most important emerging technology in my opinion is improved connectivity to the cab of equipment. It's unclear whether cellular, satellite or Wi-Fi connectivity will be the ultimate winner in the race today. Once the equipment is connected, the sky is limit to the new functionality that a precision ag manufacturer can design to improve the user experience for the operators. Logistics and data transfer are the hot topics today, but that is just the beginning."

8. Terry Griffin, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Economics University of Arkansas  Division of Agriculture -- "Precision agriculture practitioners continually fine-tune the 4R's (right source, right rate, right time, right place) as well as securing the "fifth R" (recordkeeping) which is important for data analysis and verification. Pooling data from across regions will yield discoveries and insights that have previously been undetected. Ultimately, technologies that improve the decision makers' quality of life will enjoy the greatest adoption rates and usage."

9. Steve Cubbage, President, Record Harvest Enterprises, Inc. Nevada, MO -- "Mobile technology - more specifically, tablet technology - will impact precision agriculture more in the next few years than any other technology.... The thing that is changing within precision agriculture is that we are seeing producers embrace the value of data. They know that within the mounds of the digital data and colorful maps is the secret sauce for profitability in the future."

10. Dave Varner, Extension Educator  University of Nebraska-Lincoln -- "Communication technologies will dominate the implementation and enhancement of precision agriculture in the next few years. Rapidly emerging smartphone, telematics (i.e., Slingshot), and radio frequency identification (RFID) technologies are a few examples of the real-time tools that farmers will widely adopt to remain competitive in a variety of mission crucial tasks."

There is much more in the answers by these 10 experts, just take a gander at the website of http://www.precisionag.com/specialreports/?storyid=2441 and find out more!

Also, feel free to send your own thoughts via e-mail at pa_edit@meistermedia.com.