January is typically a natural time to reflect on the past and consider the future. Dwight Koops, president of Kansas-based Crop Quest, spent some time thinking about which trends in agriculture he thought would matter most in 2015 and beyond. Here are his top five.
1. Technology adaptation. “This almost can’t be avoided,” Koops says. “Technology is being inserted into the base model of almost everything required to put a crop in the ground, and harvested.”
2. Big data. Big data is still a buzzword – and rightly so – but the challenge right now is figuring out how to get this data to work for a farmer at the local level, he adds.
“Converting data to actionable solutions is what needs to happen to make all this technology worth the investment,” he says. “Without solutions, just viewing data is pretty much worthless. This process takes a tremendous amount of time, filled with frustrations, trial and error. But when data becomes actionable, ti becomes very powerful and worth the effort.”
Bob Gore, a writer for techwire, suggests that precision agriculture may even become a mandatory practice in the future.
“Precise as in timing, location, amount and compliance reporting,” he says. “Grasp the potential here? Especially for integration and real-time data flow.”
3. Biologicals. Koops says many of the major chemical companies are focusing their attention on using biological organisms to battle weeds, insects and diseases.
“How these products control pests will be vastly different than what we are used to using for chemical control, and will require a different mindset,” he says.
4. Regulations. This is the most frustrating trend in agriculture, Koops says.
“Immense pressure is being put on farmers to track the origin of all commodities and products grown for consumption,” he says. “The technology and paper trail that this will require will vastly change how and what gets accomplished on a typical farm operation in the future. The cost to producers and consumers will be a huge burden as well.”
Some of these regulations are already upon farmers, Gore says. For example, California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act was signed into law and took effect on Jan. 1.
“It will take one or two years to create the regulations and new databases, but, suffice to say, farmers are now strictly accountable for water management,” he says.
5. Demand. “This trumps all the rest,” Koops says. “If the population of the world does hit 9 billion people by 2050, the demand to supply enough food, fiber and energy to supply the world will be a daunting task. There is no reason to doubt that production agriculture is in the driver’s seat as we look forward into the future.”
What trends do you see becoming more important this year and beyond? Continue the conversation on the AgWeb discussion boards.