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 to Agtech Issues: The Shiny Object Syndrome | PrecisionAg | Plant Health Solutions Cancel reply

2 comments on “Agtech Issues: The Shiny Object Syndrome

Business Management Stories
Business ManagementBeing a Great Team Player in the Precision Agriculture Game
March 15, 2018
Only great team players who are great teammates, have the potential to get championship results. Each player on the team Read More
Business ManagementOpinion: Closing the Gap Between the Precision Ag Industry and New Graduates
March 1, 2018
As my time as an undergrad comes to a close, I look at the precision ag industry and I see Read More
Business ManagementIndigo Launches On-Farm Storage to Facilitate a Direct Farmer-to-Buyer Grain Marketplace
March 1, 2018
Indigo Ag, Inc., a company dedicated to harnessing nature to help farmers sustainably feed the planet, has launched an on-farm Read More
AmericasNFMS 2018: Precision Farming, Ag Tech Developments from Louisville
February 21, 2018
Last week’s annual National Farm Machinery Show (NFMS) in Louisville, KY, was this author’s first experience attending the mid-winter Midwest Read More
Trending Articles
Business ManagementBeing a Great Team Player in the Precision Agriculture Game
March 15, 2018
Only great team players who are great teammates, have the potential to get championship results. Each player on the team Read More
Dr Brian Arnall Oklahoma State Paul Schrimpf
Excellence AwardsOpen For Nominations: PrecisionAg Awards Of Excellence Honor Outstanding Achievement in Ag Technology
March 7, 2018
Nominate an outstanding individual for one of four PrecisionAg Awards of Excellence. Recipients will be honored at a special ceremony during the 2018 InfoAg Conference in July. Read More
AmericasCrop Scouting in Brazil Improves Through Intelligent Pest Monitoring Systems
February 28, 2018
About nine years ago, shortly after finishing my graduation, my first job was as a monitor of pests and disease Read More
Events12 Groundbreaking AgTech Startups Selected to Pitch at AgLaunch Startup Station
February 22, 2018
AgLaunch is bringing its Startup Station pitch event back to the Mid-South Farm and Gin Show for a second time Read More
Industry NewsNFMS 2018: Case IH Talks Autonomous Agriculture, Announces Pilot Program
February 20, 2018
Since the reveal of the autonomous concept vehicle, Case IH has been evolving the technology and further defining automation and Read More
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
Latest News
SST Software building Stillwater, OK
Industry NewsSST Issues Sirrus, Summit Updates
March 20, 2018
SST Software today announced releases of upgrade versions of their flagship desktop software and iOS mobile application. Development teams have Read More
DronesWalmart Investing in Ag Technology
March 20, 2018
Walmart is applying for a range of patents using drones to automate farming. The move could support its grocery business Read More
Aerial Drone
Industry NewsCorteva Agriscience Announces Planet Deal
March 20, 2018
Corteva Agriscience, Agriculture Division of DowDuPont, through its software business, Granular, announced today with Planet – an integrated aerospace and Read More
AmericasSciFi in Ag: Precision Aerial Planting Next Up for Ag?
March 20, 2018
What do trees, drones, and minefields all have in common? Precision aerial planting. A concept first introduced in the 1930’s Read More
Precision Irrigation
Data ManagementAgGateway Submits Irrigation Data Standard to ASABE
March 19, 2018
AgGateway has submitted its proposed irrigation data exchange standard to the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE), a Read More
Corn Field
Industry NewsIndustrial IoT Company Intros Remote Asset Monitoring S…
March 16, 2018
FreeWave Technologies today announced the general availability of the WAVECONTACT WC30i-AXIS Wireless Angle Sensor. This sensor measures thief hatch states Read More
Decision Support SoftwareOpinion: The Missing Link in Precision Agriculture
March 15, 2018
The agtech boom over the last two years is indeed astonishing. Farmers are becoming more open to new, emerging technologies Read More
Sensors/IoTEstimating Field Weather and Soil Conditions
March 15, 2018
There is a favorite expression of mine that I love to apply to meteorology: “Measure with a micrometer, mark it Read More
Filling The Planter from Cab
Service ProvidersPrecision Agriculture: What is it?
March 15, 2018
If we look at the title of the article, all of you will come to an answer. These answers will Read More
Business ManagementBeing a Great Team Player in the Precision Agriculture …
March 15, 2018
Only great team players who are great teammates, have the potential to get championship results. Each player on the team Read More
AmericasJanzen: What You Need to Know About Congress’ Agr…
March 15, 2018
Via Janzen Ag Law Blog: Senators Amy Klobuchar and John Thune have introduced Senate Bill 2487, the “Agricultural Data Act Read More
Farmer tractor tablet
Data ManagementAg’s Digital Revolution: What’s Holding Us Back?
March 15, 2018
Data is undeniably a valuable asset. Yet, in the ag ecosystem, who’s seeing the value from it? A recent article Read More
PrecisionAg InstitutePrecisionAg Institute Whitepaper Library
March 14, 2018
Welcome to the PrecisionAg Institute Whitepaper library! Here you will find free whitepapers and case studies from the PrecisionAg Institute Partners Read More
Africa/Middle EastAgTech Startup Wefarm Secures New Financing Round
March 14, 2018
Wefarm, the world’s largest farmer-to-farmer digital network, has secured $5 million in additional seed funding, led by Silicon-Valley based True Read More
Spensa platform
Industry NewsAg Tech News: DTN Acquires Spensa to Boost Predictive M…
March 14, 2018
DTN announced today that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Spensa Technologies, according to a press release on Read More
Industry NewsAg Tech News: BioLumic Garners $5 Million in Series A
March 14, 2018
BioLumic, creators of the first ultraviolet (UV) crop yield enhancement system, today announced the close of $5 million in Series A financing. Read More
UAV drone
DronesFlorida Specialty Crops: Realizing the Benefits of Prec…
March 13, 2018
Dr. Yiannis Ampatzidis recently joined the faculty at UF/IFAS Southwest Florida Research and Education Center (SWFREC) in Immokalee, writes Frank Read More
Data ManagementAgReliant Genetics, The Climate Corp. Collaborate on Da…
March 13, 2018
AgReliant Genetics, the third largest seed company in North America, and The Climate Corp., a subsidiary of Monsanto Co., have Read More