Products including the AgCommand allow operations of any size to tailor the technology to fit their individual needs.
New collaborations drive the next wave of advancements
Precision agriculture has officially left its infancy. Companies have layered a full suite of products and services on top in recent years, including remote alerts, geo-tagging functionality, fleet management services and more. Now, data management is the next challenge to conquer.
"Early innovators have upward of 15 years of yield data and soil maps, but not many are doing much with that information," says Jeff Farrar, vice president of sales for Outback Guidance.
Thanks to the collective efforts of the ag industry, a farmer has more options than ever to put data to use on the farm. Solutions don’t just come from precision ag companies anymore, either. A growing list of tractor manufacturers and even seed companies are dabbling in the precision ag space, including John Deere, AGCO, Case IH, Monsanto Company, DuPont Pioneer, Burrus, WinField and Steyer Seeds.
Some ventures, such as the Monsanto Integrated Farming Systems program, will develop farm-specific field prescriptions that deliver hybrid and planting rate recommendations. The
initial offering, FieldScripts, will be commercially available in 2014.
WinField, with its R7 Tool, has also made big investments in supporting its seed products with top-notch precision ag capability. The R7 Tool employs the use of satellite imagery and soil maps to showcase soil variability so farmers can make smarter seed selection. This tool was recognized in March as the Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) Technology Contest Winner. ARA president and CEO Daren
Coppock says investing in precision ag is a logical move for seed companies.
"It’s extremely beneficial for ag retailers to have new technology available to them that helps ensure they are informing their customers about the right amount of seed, nutrients and crop protection products to place in their fields at the right time," Coppock says. "Innovations like the R7 Tool enable our industry to produce crops in a more environmentally sound and efficient manner.
By understanding a farmer’s geography, soil types, nutrient levels and maturity levels, Ohio-based Steyer Seeds can better select the right portfolio of hybrids for individual farms, says Ben Steyer, administration with the company.
"To be successful, we have to help the farmer be successful," Steyer says.
With the assistance of MyFarms, Steyer Seeds combines proprietary product knowledge with the farmer’s data to procure hybrid selection and plant population recommendations. Customers select their fields from Google Earth maps. Back-end programming pulls up a wealth of data—everything from soil type to yield potential. As farmers enter additional information about their farm, such as crop rotation, traits used, etc., the algorithm spits out recommendations that users can accept or tweak as needed.
Steyer says the process allows the farmer to be the "ground specialist," and his company to be the "seed specialist." Adding precision ag becomes the tool that brings the two together, he says.
Basic guidance packages, such as the Cruizer II from Raven, ensure that smaller farms won’t be priced out of precision ag.
Left behind? As precision ag has made huge strides during the past decade, farmers can do more with their field data, and new terms such as "telematics" and "fleet management" have crept into the lexicon.
- Early Spring 2013