The Globalization Of Precision Agriculture

Like the purported Chinese curse ‘may you live in interesting times,’ precision agriculture today is faced with many hurdles, twists and turns. These challenges I would argue are partly due to the “globalization” of precision agriculture.

This globalization is happening on several fronts. The first and foremost is economic. The world is once again in financial turmoil even while recovering from the Great Recession of 2008. There are new fears that some industrialized Western Countries will default on their loans and other debts. With each new round of borrowing, the credit ratings of these countries will suffer and even the safest of investments may be viewed as risky. In this bleak economic picture, the agricultural community, including both private and government entities, may become very conservative financially and may not be inclined to invest in new innovations. Precision agriculture as a nascent technical field strives on innovation and therefore could be negatively affected by this conservative fiscal posture.

The second front is the worldwide agricultural land rush. This investment in land is an off-shoot of the troubled economic picture. Global hedge funds, leery of erratic stock market performance, are turning to agriculture property as a “safe bet.” The logic is simple for this investment strategy. There are currently about seven billion people in the world with a projected population increase to about nine billion by 2040. This increase means there will be 28% more mouths to feed in just 30 years. Undoubtedly, the price for commodities will continue to be high with the increasing demand for food stocks. Even with technical advances, which will be discussed later, more land will certainly need to be cultivated to ensure an adequate food supply for future populations. Therefore, investment in arable land is an investment in food, which will be in greater demand with a growing population in the decades ahead. This rush for agricultural land by investment firms requires management tools for guiding efficient and cost-effective production. These tools will increasingly rely on precision agriculture technology.

The GMO Factor

The worldwide distribution of crops as genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) is the third front in the globalization of precision agriculture. GMO seed, with its many stacked traits that deliver desirable plant qualities and embed resistance to pests, chemicals and drought, are replacing conventional hybrids on every continent. While grains have been the popular target for genetic enhancements, other crops are being considered to increase yield and quality. The success of genomic crops relies on their proper selection for geography and practices and for their seeding population. GPS-guided planters, with their ability to precisely place seed, are able to ensure proper plant populations. Precision seed planting is, of course, on outgrowth of precision agriculture.

The movement towards larger farms supported by universal equipment and production practices is the fourth front in the globalization of precision agriculture. Like GMO seed, this global movement towards similar equipment and practices is almost exclusively with grain crops. As corporations invest in large-acreage farms, there is a tendency to gain efficiency by streamlining operations through the employment of large equipment, such as tractors, and the implementation of time-tested practices. With the aid of guidance systems, controllers and software, these tractors can carry out variable-rate seed and chemical applications in favorable environmental windows at all hours of the day. This trend in the use of universal equipment and practices is ideal for the proliferation of precision agriculture technologies worldwide.

Setting Standards

Piggybacking on the use of universal equipment and production practices is the desire for global industry standards, which is the fifth front in the globalization of precision agriculture. Initially spearheaded by the International Organization of Standardization out of Europe, countries around the world are beginning to move towards national standards in the design of equipment, the conversion of data between devices, the communication of data between computers and in the look and feel of decision-support software. These standards include the building of a glossary of terms, data dictionaries, data transfer formats and communication protocols. The AgGateway organization in the U.S. has recently expanded its role as a clearinghouse for standards in the agricultural community. Standards are absolutely critical to the long-term success of any technology. In the case of precision agriculture, standards eliminate the need for many organizations to populate and maintain the same kinds of databases. They foster the exchange of proprietary data between equipment in mixed fleets and ensure the proper sharing of data between different software programs. Most importantly, standards make life easier and simpler for growers as end users of precision agriculture technology.

The globalization of precision ag has special relevance to this PrecisionAg Special Reports issue, which looks at “Top Tech Trends.” The more worldwide exposure there is to the new precision ag technologies, the more likely these technologies will be adopted in all corners of the globe. This exposure is especially important in difficult economic times. Like the technology it represents, precision agriculture will meet its challenges as it moves out globally and into the future.

Leave a Reply

Regions Stories
Farmers Edge Truck
Africa/Middle EastFarmers Edge Aligns with PartnerRE to Streamline Crop Insurance Claims, Expand Access
February 13, 2018
Today Winnipeg-based FMIS giant Farmers Edge announced a partnership around crop insurance with Zurich-based PartnerRE. Although a bit short on Read More
Robotics Specialty Crops
AmericasHortau, Agrian Announce Strategic Partnership
February 12, 2018
Hortau today announced a strategic partnership with Agrian Inc. to deliver an expansive precision irrigation service for commercial agriculture. “With Read More
India-Farm-Irrigation
AsiaCloud-based Irrigation Could Double India’s Crop Yield and Halve Water Use
February 12, 2018
A cloud-based, micro-irrigation system tested on a farm in India has cut water use by up to 80%  and doubled Read More
AmericasDisrupting the Disruptor: Meet AgVend
February 3, 2018
Is Farmers Business Network (FBN) — and its admittedly slick crop inputs e-commerce platform, FBN Direct — really the Big Read More
Trending Articles
India-Farm-Irrigation
AsiaCloud-based Irrigation Could Double India’s Crop Yield and Halve Water Use
February 12, 2018
A cloud-based, micro-irrigation system tested on a farm in India has cut water use by up to 80%  and doubled Read More
Tools & Smart EquipmentAutonomous Tractors Could Work in Wetter Conditions than Traditional Tractors
February 8, 2018
March 20th is the first day of spring, making spring much closer than even I expected. On the farm I Read More
AmericasPrecision Farming Companies to Watch in 2018 (OPINION)
January 17, 2018
My friends, as many of you told me repeatedly throughout the last 12 months, 2017 was an interesting year in Read More
John-Deere-Cab-GPS
Data ManagementPrecision Ag Hardware and Software: A Little Off-Season Maintenance Goes A Long Way
January 11, 2018
All service technicians have heard this line. Most often when spring makes its anticipated return to our lives. It is Read More
Anez-Consulting-Paul-Anez-and-Michael-Dunn
Service ProvidersAnez Consulting: Focus On Fertility
January 9, 2018
Central Minnesota features variability aplenty when it comes to soil characteristics and topography, from flat, black expanses rich in organic Read More
Agrishow2017
Americas5 Best Ag Tech Shows in Brazil
January 8, 2018
Brazil continues to demonstrate its potential in agriculture. Several international companies are investing in our country because we have a Read More
Latest News
Harvested-Corn-Field-Clouds
Industry NewsUnderstory Patents Solid State Weather Sensor
February 16, 2018
Understory today announced that it received a patent for its mechanical strain-based weather sensor, a key component in its weather Read More
Retailer Grower
Business ManagementAgriculture and Technology: Industry Progress Lies in C…
February 16, 2018
Water is essential for agriculture. While this may seem obvious, nowhere is it more apparent than the Sonoran Desert of Read More
Agtegra_SDSU
Industry NewsAgtegra Cooperative Pledges $500,000 to SDSU Precision …
February 15, 2018
Agtegra Cooperative, Aberdeen, SD, today in Pierre announced a $500,000 donation to South Dakota State University for the Precision Agriculture Read More
Ag Retailer and Grower WinField United
Business ManagementThe Importance of Teamwork for Successful Precision Ag …
February 15, 2018
Interdependency is defined as the quality or condition of being mutually reliant on each other. I’m not a huge sports Read More
Texas-and-Oklahoma-Panhandles-Google-Earth
Data ManagementAgriculture Impacts Weather: The Case for Connected Eco…
February 15, 2018
It’s fascinating to see how modern technology has helped us increase our agricultural productivity in areas not otherwise suited for Read More
Adapt-N VRT
Decision Support SoftwareDTN Partners with Adapt-N to Provide Weather and Nitrog…
February 14, 2018
DTN has announced a partnership today at the National Farm Machinery Show with Agronomic Technology Corp (ATC), a Yara International Read More
Corn close up
Imagery/SensingSyngenta Acquires Satellite Imagery Provider FarmShots
February 14, 2018
Syngenta has acquired FarmShots, Inc., a North Carolina-based innovator of high-resolution satellite imagery that detects plant health by analyzing absorbed Read More
Pexels-Agriculture_Fields_Tractor_Precision_AG
Tools & Smart EquipmentMachine Learning: The Secret Sauce of Precision Agricul…
February 13, 2018
With the development of agricultural technologies, crop and plant diseases have been advancing as well, causing degradation of both quality Read More
Farmers Edge Truck
Africa/Middle EastFarmers Edge Aligns with PartnerRE to Streamline Crop I…
February 13, 2018
Today Winnipeg-based FMIS giant Farmers Edge announced a partnership around crop insurance with Zurich-based PartnerRE. Although a bit short on Read More
Robotics Specialty Crops
AmericasHortau, Agrian Announce Strategic Partnership
February 12, 2018
Hortau today announced a strategic partnership with Agrian Inc. to deliver an expansive precision irrigation service for commercial agriculture. “With Read More
India-Farm-Irrigation
AsiaCloud-based Irrigation Could Double India’s Crop Yield …
February 12, 2018
A cloud-based, micro-irrigation system tested on a farm in India has cut water use by up to 80%  and doubled Read More
Forbes Mixing Bowl NYC
EventsInnovative Forum Geared to Let Food, Farming, and Tech …
February 9, 2018
Industry innovators in agriculture, food, and information technology are set to mix it up again at this year’s Forbes Mixing Read More
Tools & Smart EquipmentAutonomous Tractors Could Work in Wetter Conditions tha…
February 8, 2018
March 20th is the first day of spring, making spring much closer than even I expected. On the farm I Read More
corn weather
Industry NewsSciFi in Ag: Stanford Cooling Project Could Drive Energ…
February 7, 2018
(Article Notes: This monthly column takes some crazy sounding ideas and applies them to the field of Ag Tech. The Read More
Industry NewsAgGateway Debuts ADAPT ISO Plugin Version 2.0
February 6, 2018
AgGateway’s ADAPT Framework, which is designed to make it easy for various hardware and software systems that growers use in Read More
Roger-DuMond-and-Brandon-Butz-Kova-Fertilizer
Systems ManagementThere’s No Easy Button For Value in Variable-Rate Nutri…
February 6, 2018
Roger Dumond has weathered the ups and downs of precision agriculture programs as much as anybody who’s been riding that Read More
Farmer-Soybean-field
Business ManagementFeel Something is Missing in Precision Agriculture? Ans…
February 5, 2018
I’ve seen a lot of ideas and met a lot of people in the agtech world. There have been great Read More
HomeSST Software to be Acquired by Proagrica
February 5, 2018
UPDATED 2.5.18, 2:10 PM Proagrica has signed an agreement to acquire 100% of SST Software, including Raven’s ownership stake. Based Read More