Agtech Issues: The Shiny Object Syndrome

Do you remember those cartoons where someone lures someone else by placing a piece of candy, small amount of money, or breadcrumbs in a row that ends in a trap under a box propped up by a stick attached to a string? After my visit to the Farm Progress show last week — and to be honest, other recent shows — this is the feeling I get. “Hey, come here and get this yard stick you’ll never use, this hat you’ll never wear, or this product you’ll never utilize….” Ok, I’ll take that yard stick every darn time, never use it, but if I need to visualize three feet, it is on the wall hanging on a nail and it’s like a security blanket. To quote Metallica, “Sad but true.”

This is what I call the “shiny object syndrome”, a symbiotic marketing and product development tactic used by every industry since the wheel was invented. Buy three wheels and get the fourth free! (Fast speech follows: This wheel and all wheels are subject to failure, may cause injury, death, vomiting, and at certain times desire to spin that may lead to dizziness or constipation).

It seems everyone in the news and marketing industry — which includes ag shows — are enamored with all the buzzwords that get the most attention and reaction. It is great and deceiving at the same time and I blame no one that does it and it isn’t necessarily wrong. Heck, it is the job of many at the group showcasing this article on its website that is trying to attract attention and there are many more out there. Grabbing attention isn’t what concerns me though. If it is useful, engaging in a positive way that actually works and helps, then awesome. What I’m seeing and don’t like are offers of value and tools/services that promote the “you get this much ROI or save this much money” without much or any proof. That or the false sense of reality that this one thing will change the industry, blah blah blah. You’ve heard of them all I’m sure.

I get why it happens. You need to sell a product, showcase an idea, make it shine, and be better than the next or you’ll be on the curb. While this is common in many industries, agriculture is a little different than others. Take vacuums, for example, which claim: “Better suction is the essence of cleanliness.” Thanks Dyson and Roomba (which by the way gets stuck on the damn bathroom rug every time and takes two hours to vacuum two rooms)! Don’t get me started on robots in ag right now.

We probably have all been guilty of promoting something that is only somewhat true, but we have to catch ourselves in these instances. Sure, I’ve had my moments of pushing products that maybe don’t interest the public much or provide as much extra value to get that certain buck. The one thing I don’t do is say that it will give you this much in return by the acre exactly no matter what. I’ll give examples and let them decide if they think they could do the same. For me seeing imagery everywhere throughout the world has taught me no field is the same and every farm is different — a lesson this industry needs to better understand and grasp going forward. Canned messages and promotions can be very misleading with no context and that is what is missing.

I don’t really care what the tech is or the product or service. The answer and value of it is not in saying it makes this much per whatever and is better than this or that. It is taking your product/service and showing the end user how to utilize it so that they can see their own value/profit/ROI. If it works like you think it does and how you’ve claimed, then it shouldn’t be too hard to show value. The ones that push “it will make this much per acre” are promoting their product wrong and doing it to suck you in, not to show you value. It is merely a shiny object and can’t easily be defined in the world of ag or specifically precision ag. Too many variables.

Shut-up-and-take-my-moneyNow I’m not here to say the “shiny object” mongers are hawking bad or horrible products/services, since most times they are not, but I am saying: be careful. It can backfire and hurt us all. Agriculture is in a somewhat fragile state right now and it can be really easy to follow the snake oil to grab that extra attention. The recessions and depressions in our economy have proved this. Grifters from all walks of life trying to swing you over to their side by saying anything that makes you say, “SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY!”

The would-be grifters were out in force at the show, and their desperation was lurking around every corner. To quote @dave_newby “The Farm Progress Show is where farmers with $3 corn look at all the ways they could produce corn if it was $5.”

It was kind of sad and why I could only be there for about 3 hours. My other colleagues at the precision ag conference the previous day said the same thing, that it’s not worth the time. And for the most part, it wasn’t. Not the show’s fault, and not everyone was bad but still, way too much BS and miss-leading promotion.

If the agtech or precision ag industry and its cohorts are to excel and actually gain the trust of growers and the service providers that help them on a larger scale, then we all need to find the ways to not sell or promote the shininess of products, but concentrate on the extra value they bring to the table and how it can be used in a realistic way. Not some baseless situation that says it works everywhere and for everyone. It doesn’t and nothing does.

Sell common sense. Show what is real and doable. Create an opportunity to show what you can actually do and provide. In other words, don’t sell ice to an Eskimo even if you can. Sell them the insulation blanket or cooler that makes the igloo last longer that prevents melting and saves them ice. Really, they might just want to do what they’ve been doing since they like doing it that way, and do it pretty well. Provide some breathing room maybe.

Overall, let’s skip the high drama shiny object approach. This industry is not the Kardashians….and I can’t believe I just used them as an example of what NOT to be in this ag industry. Yikes…

By the way, anyone want my stupid Roomba?

Leave a Reply

2 comments on “Agtech Issues: The Shiny Object Syndrome

Business Management Stories
Blue River Tech See and Spray prototype in CA
Business ManagementIs the Agtech Startup Boom Over?
November 13, 2017
In the past few months there has been a flurry of acquisitions of agtech startups by major players in the Read More
Spray Drift
Business ManagementProtecting Your Business with Ag Data: What Dicamba Can Teach Us (Guest Column)
November 9, 2017
All over the country, in ag communities large and small, farmers are reporting crop damage, neighbors are fighting, lawsuits and Read More
Clay Mitchell
Business ManagementAg Tech Expert Clay Mitchell to Speak at Nebraska Community College
August 31, 2017
A fifth generation farmer and a leading investor in farmland and agricultural technologies will be bringing his message to Northeast Read More
Univ.-of-Illlinois-Palmer-in-soybean1
Business ManagementOpinion: How to Leverage Precision Agriculture to Launch Your Aggressive, High-Pressure Telemarketing Business
August 14, 2017
To continue where my last article left off (which you can check out here), a precision ag company that specializes Read More
Trending Articles
Blue River Tech See and Spray prototype in CA
Business ManagementIs the Agtech Startup Boom Over?
November 13, 2017
In the past few months there has been a flurry of acquisitions of agtech startups by major players in the Read More
Spray Drift
Business ManagementProtecting Your Business with Ag Data: What Dicamba Can Teach Us (Guest Column)
November 9, 2017
All over the country, in ag communities large and small, farmers are reporting crop damage, neighbors are fighting, lawsuits and Read More
Kokoda-Trek2
Australia/New ZealandPrecision Agriculture in Papua New Guinea
November 2, 2017
I recently spent two weeks in the Central Highlands area of Papua New Guinea (PNG) on the Kokoda Track. The Read More
Robotic-Field-Scanner
Specialty CropsOpinion: Agriculture’s Big Data is Coming to You
October 20, 2017
If you think your world is changing at a dizzying pace, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. That’s my takeaway from Read More
Brazil-Soybean-field
AmericasIPNI Brazil: Precision Agriculture to Improve Nutrient Use Efficiency
October 16, 2017
As I mentioned in my last article, the IPNI Brazil Symposium on Precision Agriculture was held in early October in Read More
Decision Support SoftwareFarmers Edge, Service Provider Talk High-Frequency Imagery Deal
October 11, 2017
As the domestic ag tech market continues to mature and develop as we barrel into 2018, another intriguing partnership has Read More
Latest News
DronesDrones Play Critical Role in Ohio Agricultural Research
November 17, 2017
The Springfield Beckley-Municipal Airport now has a new hangar for unmanned aircraft and precision agriculture, writes Allyson Brown on GovTech.com. Read More
Iowa-Farmer China
AsiaIowa Farm a Model for Modernizing China Agriculture
November 16, 2017
The buddy seat on Rick Kimberley’s combine-harvester is a fine vantage point from which to observe precision farming. The combine’s Read More
Field
Data ManagementThe Climate Corp., Deveron Form Drone Analytics Partner…
November 16, 2017
The Climate Corp., a subsidiary of Monsanto Co., has announced a partnership with Deveron UAS Corp., that will deliver farmers Read More
aggateway
Service ProvidersAgGateway Recognizes Leaders at 2017 Annual Conference
November 16, 2017
At its annual conference last week, AgGateway honored individuals and companies that are advancing electronic connectivity efforts in agriculture and Read More
corn field
UncategorizedTopcon Agriculture Prepares to Release Horizon 4.02
November 15, 2017
Topcon Agriculture has announced the addition of new functions including Auto Turn and Steer to Boundary applications in its upcoming Read More
Used Combine
Service ProvidersFinding New Precision Ag Opportunities in Older Equipme…
November 15, 2017
Whether to buy new or used equipment has been and continues to be an important topic for growers. When it Read More
John-Deere-Air-Carts
Systems ManagementJohn Deere 1910 Air Carts Can Now Be Retrofitted with S…
November 14, 2017
Intelligent Agricultural Solutions, LLC (Intelligent Ag), a leader in electronics innovations for modern farming, has released Engage Zone Control, the Read More
Climate FieldView Script Creator
EuropeThe Climate Corp. Expands Global Digital Agriculture Pl…
November 14, 2017
The Climate Corp., a subsidiary of Monsanto Co., has announced at Agritechnica, the world’s leading trade fair for agricultural machinery, Read More
Soybean-Field-Photo-Barbara-Eckstein
Data ManagementWeather Forecasting: How Does It Work, and How Reliable…
November 14, 2017
Do you ever wonder exactly how the weather forecast is made? And how good are they, really? In last month’s Read More
Topcon_TAP
Decision Support SoftwareTopcon Agriculture Introduces New Connected Agricultura…
November 13, 2017
Topcon Agriculture has introduced TAP, the Topcon Agriculture Platform, a cloud-based agricultural ecosystem designed to provide real-time monitoring and data Read More
Topcon A6
Systems ManagementTopcon Agriculture Adds ISOBUS Communication to Opus Co…
November 13, 2017
Topcon Agriculture has added industry-leading ISOBUS universal terminal and task controller functionality to the Opus A6 and A8 consoles. The Read More
Blue River Tech See and Spray prototype in CA
Business ManagementIs the Agtech Startup Boom Over?
November 13, 2017
In the past few months there has been a flurry of acquisitions of agtech startups by major players in the Read More
Data ManagementAgGateway Grain Transfer Proof of Concept Shows Promise
November 10, 2017
We talk about closed-loop systems quite a bit in modern production agriculture. Having a closed-loop, or completely self-contained, system is Read More
Spray Drift
Business ManagementProtecting Your Business with Ag Data: What Dicamba Can…
November 9, 2017
All over the country, in ag communities large and small, farmers are reporting crop damage, neighbors are fighting, lawsuits and Read More
Farmers Business Network, FBN Procurement
Industry NewsFarmers Business Network Details Updated FBN Direct Sho…
November 8, 2017
Farmer’s Business Network, Inc. is modernizing the way farmers shop with a new e-commerce platform designed and engineered exclusively for Read More
Excellence AwardsNominations Open For 2018 PrecisionAg Awards Of Excelle…
November 8, 2017
The PrecisionAg Award of Excellence program sheds light on some of the most important people and programs that have helped agriculture realize the full benefits of technology to improve agronomy, efficiency, and stewardship in crop production. Read More
Data ManagementDJI Announces FlightHub Drone Operations Management Pla…
November 7, 2017
DJI showcased new hardware and software advancements that make it easier for businesses across multiple industries to incorporate drones into Read More
Deere-Combine
Data ManagementTech’s Perspective: Closeout to #Harvest2017
November 7, 2017
As the harvest season comes to a close, a quick look at Twitter gives us some insights into how things Read More