Consider some of the drivers of change in production agriculture, which already are happening. These drivers support even greater precision in agricultural production practices.
First, environmental pressures will continue to increase at the farm level. Farmers will need to become even better stewards of their environment. It is both good business and good politics. Precision practices are fundamental to that effort.
Second, consumers are demanding products at the grocery store and restaurant that are high quality, consistent and safe. Production practices, which can achieve and document these consumer needs, are critical to the value-added agricultural market we so strongly seek.
Third, much of production agriculture will move to a contract, produced-to-specification business. Farmers, suppliers, processors and food retailers will need to collaborate on genetic and production technology, as well as market feedback systems. The ability to attract commodity or specialty production contracts may well be driven by the demonstrated ability to produce using precision methods, including produce-to-input-specification techniques.
Finally, commodity grain and livestock producers will likely require even greater efficiency in order to compete. By definition, efficiency is achieved by some combination of increased revenues, decreased costs and greater profitability. Precision practices can lead to more efficient operations.
These drivers suggest a bright future for those who prudently adopt precision agriculture in their operations. Even if you disagree with some or all of these specific points, we all agree that the business of farming continues to become more complex and affected by many market forces.
Quite simply, we will need to sharpen our ax to prosper in the years ahead.
Editor’s note: This article first appeared in the January 1998 issue of PrecisionAg Illustrated.