2017: Raring To Increase Precision Agriculture Adoption

Representatives from Partner organizations supporting the PrecisionAg® Institute in 2017 describe their companies’ unique roles, explain how they support retailer/dealer professionals, and take a stab at longer-term prospects in the quest for increased precision adoption.

Teddy Bekele Winfield UnitedWinField United
Teddy Bekele
Vice President of IT

How would you describe the unique role that your company plays in the precision agriculture marketplace?
At WinField United, our goal is for our retailer owners to be that trusted advisor for farmers. We have several ag technology products and offerings to help retailers deliver superior agronomic insights, be more efficient and make better sense of the ever-changing ag technology marketplace. Answer Tech is our educational mobile web portal and mobile app store that lets retailers compare new tech products. The R7 Tool helps promote better planting and in-season decision-making, while our Retail Efficiency Tools save retailers valuable time. Our cloud-based data management system, Data Silo, connects these different tools so they can all communicate with each other.

What is your company’s outlook for precision agriculture in 2017?
This is an exciting time for precision agriculture. As tools become easier to use, adoption and proficiency will increase. Farmers and retailers are beginning to grasp just how drastically these applications can improve bottom-line performance over the long term.

WinField United is particularly excited about the role precision agriculture can play year-round. Technology is helping to refine the selection of seed and the timing of crop protection applications, and is making yield data more purposeful. Whether you’re tech-savvy or feeling behind the times, we’re here to help retailers find the right solutions for their business.

What, in your view, are the longer term prospects of precision agriculture (2018-2020)?
Looking further ahead, precision agriculture tools and services are only going to get better. More stable platforms and reliable performance will lead to more confidence. The increase in mobile offerings will increase usability and the adoption of precision agriculture.

I expect to see more sensors on farms, particularly more affordable options, to use real-time information in decision-making. And I anticipate farmers and retailers will use more models. As more data becomes available, better recommendations will be possible and yield estimates will become more accurate. If lower commodity prices and industry consolidation continue, partnerships and connections will continue to be the norm.

What is your company’s view of the role of service providers in driving precision adoption?
Precision agriculture is the future, and we’re committed to helping retailers embrace and best use it. For retailers that provide their own precision ag platforms, I urge them to keep improving so they are easier to use, mobile-friendly, and connected to other tools. Precision ag platforms should be a part of overall service and combined with agronomic support, not just a separate department. Increasing proficiency and educating the entire staff about the value and use of technology will help retailers be that trusted advisor to farmers.

Caleb Schultz Simplot Grower SolutionsSimplot Grower Solutions
Caleb Schultz
SmartFarm Regional Manager

How would you describe the unique role that your company plays in the precision agriculture marketplace?
Simplot Grower Solutions’ unique role in the precision agriculture marketplace is our custom approach to precision agriculture including our internally developed precision agriculture processes, analysis, and reporting. Our strengths center on detailed agronomy and variable rate fertility recommendations. We are able to take a custom approach to any customer’s situation since we are not bound by the constraints of a specific FMIS system as a result of using the open architecture of our ArcGIS platform. We also have a great deal of strength in soil mapping and remote sensing via satellite constellations. We will continue to be a leader in the industry as a result of our innovative internally developed approach.

What is your company’s outlook for precision agriculture in 2017?
Precision within our locations has an extremely positive outlook in 2017 as a result of unveiling new internally developed tools that will help distribution of our information and make our precision platform more accessible to our stakeholders. Other developments involving in field precision agronomy efforts are bolstering our outlook for the coming year.

What, in your view, are the longer term prospects of precision agriculture (2018-2020)?
Long term prospects are also positive as late adopters are now beginning to come online with precision tools. This steady stream will increase core precision businesses as early adopters continue looking at leading-edge technologies and driving innovative business opportunities for us.

What is your company’s view of the role of service providers in driving precision adoption?
Equipment costs are often the limiter for late adopters in the precision space. Large operators absorb equipment costs easily. However, the bulk of farms in the mid-size range have a more difficult time absorbing these costs, which will need to continue to decline to allow the mid-sized operations to be able to take advantage of precision services.

Mike Gomes TopconTopcon Precision Agriculture
Mike Gomes
Vice President, Business Development

How would you describe the unique role that your company plays in the precision agriculture marketplace?
Topcon Agriculture is a provider of hardware and software used on machines. Our uniqueness comes through the depth of our sensors and solutions in an easy-to-use package, backed by the support of the local dealer. From load cells on seed tenders, to industry-leading auto-steering, multi-product variable-rate application, boom height control, and yield monitors, to weighing systems with connectivity on the grain cart for traceability, Topcon Agriculture is providing tools that help growers improve productivity, and more important profitability, in all aspects of their farm operations.

What is your company’s outlook for precision agriculture in 2017?
We see 2017 as slightly stronger than last year and with a brighter future for subsequent years. Growers are continuing to adopt solutions that help improve the efficiency and profitability of their operations. The payback on the technology is there, and in competitive markets, these tools and technologies of precision agriculture are becoming “table stakes” for the most competitive farms and agribusinesses. Growers realizing the strongest returns are utilizing the technology in multiple operations to minimize expense and to get the most productivity out of their equipment.

What, in your view, are the longer term prospects of precision agriculture (2018-2020)?
Positive and strengthening. Tech-nologies are continuing to evolve beyond efficiency to encompass connectivity for coordination and reducing waste and inefficiency along that path. This industry is gaining strength because, pure and simple, it makes growers money by improving equipment efficiency and reducing costs through savings on inputs, often with higher yields. Once growers become confident in the mastery of one technology, they naturally start to add more, which continues to add to their confidence and competence, saving money along the way.

What is your company’s view of the role of service providers in driving precision adoption?
We view the local dealer or service provider as integral to the success of the ultimate end user. With anything new, there is a bit of a learning curve. Having a friendly face who understands both the technology and also how you intend to use the technology on your operation is something worth paying for. Local support, be it on the phone or in the field, can often be the tipping point that enables customer success. In an internet age when information is all around us, being able to answer the question as well as make the technology sing during stressful planting and spraying seasons is a true value that grows happy customers and profitable operations.

Joe Akin SST SoftwareSST Software
Joe Akin
Chief Operating Officer

How would you describe the unique role that your company plays in the precision agriculture marketplace?
Given market volatility and dynamics, SST Software’s sustained success for more than two decades is unique in itself. Central to this success is delivering tangible value to agronomic service providers via products, services, and information specifically designed for those seeking scalable and secure solutions. Core to all SST products and services are standardization, centralization, automation, and communication — all of which are necessary to achieve agX compliance, which allows interoperability with other agX-compliant applications. This interoperability only begins to reveal the true value in standardization.

What is your company’s outlook for precision agriculture in 2017?
Realized value in data management solutions is good for everyone in the industry; we expect this realized value to increase year over year. We’ll continue to partner with customers to co-innovate, solve real problems, and deliver legitimate value.

What, in your view, are the longer term prospects of precision agriculture (2018-2020)?
If we are to succeed as an industry, we must rally around data standards and platforms that allow seamless connectivity across systems. Future success demands a singular definition of data; this approach empowers service providers to select best-of-breed software applications while gaining interoperability across systems. For far too long, redundant data entry and incompatibility have stymied both innovation and value creation. All those working tirelessly to support a feverously growing population deserve better.

What is your company’s view of the role of service providers in driving precision adoption?
Agronomic service providers are key to enabling success at the farm gate. This is why SST has built its business through partnerships with ag retailers and crop consultants. Our commitment is to empower service providers with products, services, and information that allow them to deliver differentiated value to their customers. Service providers who continue to invest in strengthening customer relationships while pushing the envelope to unlock and deliver value will ultimately reign supreme.

Ryan Molitor RavenRaven Applied Technology
Ryan Molitor
Director of Customer Experience

How would you describe the unique role that your company plays in the precision agriculture marketplace?
Raven delivers technology that improves product efficacy, reduces the amount of inputs needed, and improves the profitability of an operation. Our Hawkeye Nozzle Control System accomplishes this by focusing our precision efforts down to the individual nozzle on a sprayer. On/off control, turn compensation, and consistent pressure at the nozzle provide a lot of benefits for a machine and operator. Together, our complete suite of application products helps control droplet size and reduce spray drift to combat weed resistance, something that is a great challenge for service providers today.

What is your company’s outlook for precision agriculture in 2017?
Raven believes ag retailers and service providers understand the role that technology can play in helping improve product application in the field. Through some new programs, we’re helping them understand how utilizing the right technology not only improves product efficacy, but offers a return on the investment to increase their profitability.

What, in your view, are the longer term prospects of precision agriculture (2018-2020)?
We think companies will continue to adopt technology in their operations. As machines in their fleet get older, they’ll look to aftermarket upgrades to get more usage out of their equipment. It will be important that we continue to work with these companies so they understand what types of technologies should be adopted and how they can best implement these in their operation.

What is your company’s view of the role of service providers in driving precision adoption?
We think that understanding how to better manage data and logistics will be a key factor for service providers. Everyone seems to understand the importance of these factors, but putting them into practice is entirely different. For Raven, this means helping service providers understand how to connect the dots. We are starting to see companies address compatibility issues with things like Slingshot and AgX, which pushes us to help customers understand how they can put these products to work for their business. As a technology provider, we also need to be on the leading edge of this movement towards data management and work with software partners to make sure our technology is compatible so a customer isn’t caught in the middle. Data and logistics need to be simplified in order for our customers to get the most out of their business.

Ernie Chappell EFC SystemsEFC Systems, Inc.
Ernie Chappell
President & Founder

How would you describe the unique role that your company plays in the precision agriculture marketplace?
EFC Systems brings unique abilities to the marketplace with more than 25 years of experience bringing comprehensive technology solutions to agribusiness retailer/dealers. Our modern web-based and mobile enabled platform is built by in-house, U.S.-based developers. This allows us to bring solutions to market at a brisk pace. Another unique aspect is our deep experience in both financial (ERP) and precision platforms — as we are seeing, in order to efficiently work with growers, it is typical that information is needed not just from both systems but from a more comprehensive single solution like we offer.

What is your company’s outlook for precision agriculture in 2017?
We feel the market will see a move from early adopters to more widespread use in organizations. This will shift desired features from individual users or location-based solutions to more of an organization-level desire to utilize technology consistently with growers. With the consolidation trend to larger retailer/dealer organizations, this desire for a more enterprise solution will drive a need for more comprehensive and scalable solutions. This will be the year of getting more serious about core functionality that helps retailers understand ROI and become better advisors to growers.

What, in your view, are the longer term prospects of precision agriculture (2018-2020)?
We’ll see continued consolidation among retailers/dealers with surviving entities being forward-thinking firms that are serious about embracing changing grower needs. Likewise I think we’ll see consolidation in the technology provider space. Retailers/dealers really don’t have time to change systems every couple of years, and stronger solution providers will emerge to support the full technology needs of this new larger retailer/dealer of 2020. Precision agriculture will become synonymous with just saying agriculture. Good financial and field data management systems will be vital to cope with increased regulation/documentation needs as well as driving increased profitability.

What is your company’s view of the role of service providers in driving precision adoption?
Service providers have a critically important role in driving precision adoption, just as they have been the driver in most every other aspect of agriculture advancement of the last 50 years. Growers gravitate to trusted relationships with their service providers. Sure, a few may go it alone, but the bulk of growers are not just comfortable but really want to have trusted service provider partners as they navigate the increasingly complex of farming. The biggest drag on adoption has been the anemic pace that the typical service provider has invested and embraced new technology. This is changing now.

Jason Ellsworth Wilbur EllisAgVerdict Wilbur-Ellis
Jason Ellsworth
Product Manager

How would you describe the unique role that your company plays in the precision agriculture marketplace?
We act as a full-service provider in all areas of field technology — namely software, data management, site-specific services, and field applications for all crops with a focus in specialty crops including trees, vegetables, berries, and vines.

What is your company’s outlook for precision agriculture in 2017?
We project that there will be a consistent increase in adoption throughout 2017 as growers maximize their return on investment, by investing in services and partners that enable them to put their data to work for their farming operation.

What, in your view, are the longer-term prospects of precision agriculture (2018-2020)?
The longer-term view will bring products and services for increased, quicker, and more efficient data acquisition. In turn, a clearer understanding of the use of data and improved analysis and application will enable actual use of data in real-time and long-term planning.

Products and services that combine best management practices and data to increase the sustainability of a farming enterprise environmentally and economically in the areas of soil health, nutrient management, integrated pest management and traceability and transparency.

What is your company’s view of the role of service providers in driving precision adoption?
The two pieces that most growers have trouble with are data acquisition across the operation, and how to use and incorporate it in the day-to-day operation, let alone in long-term planning. As-applied/planted maps, yield, soil samples, imagery, costs, application rates, and even dates are frequently not captured or are lost.

Traditionally, service providers have centered services on a single set of point-in-time data to make a recommendation for crop protection products or fertilizer. The effort going forward will be to partner with the customer to use that data in addition to imagery, yield, and in-field observations of the results to determine the effectiveness of recommendations and build farm-specific datasets to increase profitability of the operation.

Lane Arthur John DeereJohn Deere
Lane Arthur
Director, Digital Solutions

How would you describe the unique role that your company plays in the precision agriculture marketplace?
John Deere is the one place you can turn for not just equipment, not just technology, and not just dealer services — but all three together. This unique combination saves customers time and gives them the peace of mind that comes from quality products, backed by dependable service. We’re also taking collaboration to new heights in the world of ag. For instance, through innovative products like JDLink and the John Deere Operations Center, customers can connect and communicate with their machines, their dealer, and other partners, using what they learn to take immediate action and plan for future success.

What is your company’s outlook for precision agriculture in 2017?
We predict a year of strong progress in precision. Facing intense pressure to increase yields and reduce costs, more and more producers are looking for an “edge” that will make their best farming even better. Many are finding that advantage by investing in technology. But this isn’t a case of “if you build it, they will come.” John Deere is working hard not just to create solutions, but to guide customers to get maximum value from precision ag products and practices—old and new. We’re doing a lot of listening.

What, in your view, are the longer term prospects of precision agriculture (2018-2020)?
As technology gets even easier to use and even more compatible with mixed fleets, growers will more readily adopt precision agriculture tools. Putting that technology to work will generate new and increasing value in their operations. Our customers will use data to make decisions, then evaluate the impact of those decisions on profitability. As a result, they will have a richer, clearer view of performance from year to year. They’ll be looking to all of us — manufacturers, dealers, service providers — to use that intelligence in ways that add even more to their bottom line. Smart!

What is your company’s view of the role of service providers in driving precision adoption?
It’s all about collaboration. We hear story after story about how service providers and John Deere dealers are working together to make customers more profitable. When we unite with strong partners to help customers adopt and benefit from technology, we get results. Join forces with your customer’s extended team. Pool your strengths to analyze machine data, exchange knowledge of the grower’s operation, and formulate agronomic recommendations. The customer will benefit — and so will you.

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