Having Technology Talent On Hand Is Critical

Many years ago, while doing a stint in academia, I participated in an introductory course in agriculture for freshman students. The course provided an overview of the field from a number of perspectives, which were represented by the instructors. On my first day, I would start off my lecture by commenting that the students could have gone into an easier major such as nuclear physics but instead they chose the more difficult field of agriculture.

As you would expect, this pronouncement enlisted a hearty round of laughter, but there was in my comment a strong element of truth, which was missed by my young audience. Simply stated, agriculture is a complex system, which requires adherents of the field to have a broad range of knowledge and experience. Add in the technological advances associated with “precision” agriculture and you have defined a pretty challenging endeavor for students and adult learners.

Probably the single greatest challenge for precision agriculture is attracting “qualified” individuals into the field. I emphasize qualified because too many times I see personnel being “retrofitted” for precision agriculture. That is, individuals were originally hired to be field advisors or salespersons who are now being told to participate in precision agriculture. Worse yet, their participation was inaugurated without technical preparation, without a reduction in their original duties, and, in some cases, without the support of their bosses. In other words, employees are being asked to be nuclear scientists without the education and training, and, in many cases, without their interest. It is little wonder why many organizations struggle with precision agriculture.

Clearing Hurdles

So what are the barriers that must be overcome to ensure there are “qualified” individuals in the field of precision agriculture? The first barrier is education. No matter what the undertaking, individuals must first acquire knowledge about the subject area. Whether formal through university degree or informal through independent courses or an apprenticeship program, education is the first step.

The second barrier is training (activity leading to skilled behavior). Training puts education into action. Since agricultural practices vary significantly by commodity and geography, training provides help to fine tune what a person has learned.

The third barrier is culture. Every agricultural organization has its way of doing things. Roles and habits in these organizations have evolved over many years based on the needs of growers and the economic opportunities in the industry. For precision agriculture to work, these roles will have to change to accommodate new technologies, data, and decision making.

The fourth and last barrier is value. Most agricultural professionals have a good idea what their efforts are worth in the marketplace. When something as different as precision agriculture enters the picture, the work associated with it has no established value. Worse, the initial value is often perceived to be low when compared to other efforts. This perception can be positively corrected by documenting the efficiencies and monetary benefits accrued the grower through the use of precision agriculture in their management. Once value is recognized, it is an easy step to provide incentives for individuals to excel in precision agriculture.

Learn, Excel

It is clear from the “Precision Agriculture Success Stories” in this and other previous publications that individuals can overcome the barriers. Careful readings of the stories reveal that success was the result of education, self training (typically through trial and error), working in a culture comfortable with change, and exceling in an environment that provides incentives. Furthermore, as one follows the stories over the years, it will also be apparent that success feeds on success. The more effort individuals work with precision agriculture, the greater is the return of their investment in time and energy.

Individuals or companies interested in precision agriculture may ask, “How does one get ‘qualified’ to improve their chances for success?” One great starting point is to find out about companies providing information technology (IT) services for precision agriculture. These companies, which can be IT specialists, soil labs, dealers, or consultant groups, can offer different levels of programs along with training to meet the needs of most professionals in the industry. Another area of help is with books, journals, vendor literature, and trade magazines such as this one.

Once individuals get proficient with the programs and other tools of precision agriculture and are current on what works in the field, only their imaginations become the limiting factor on the path towards success.

Editor’s note: This article first appeared in the Winter 2006 issue of PrecisionAg Special Reports.

Leave a Reply

Service Providers Stories
Farmer Advisor
Service Providers2018 Plan: Engaging the Next Generation of Ag Service Professionals, and More
December 12, 2017
Here at Meister Media Worldwide (MMW) HQ we’re deep in the throes of content planning for 2018. Our rookie season Read More
Farmer and computer
Service ProvidersPrecision Agriculture Writers Wanted To Join Our Team in 2018
December 10, 2017
About The Opportunity: PrecisionAg.com is looking for people to join our team in 2018 and submit original content to our Read More
Grower-Field-iPad-Connectivity-Photo-Credit-VLab
Business ManagementOpinion: Agtech Boom Is Yet To Come
December 6, 2017
Many agronomists, farmers, and VC groups monitoring the agtech world are proclaiming the startup boom is over. Investments are down, Read More
John-Deere-Connect-Mobile
Service Providers10 New Mobile Apps for Precision Agriculture
December 5, 2017
Ag professionals continue to reap the rewards of new smartphone apps. And perhaps no segment of farming is benefitting more Read More
Trending Articles
Harvested-Corn-Field-Clouds
Data ManagementWeather Services Advance Precision Agriculture
December 4, 2017
Some estimates suggest over half of growers’ activities are impacted by weather conditions, from field workability to fertility management to harvest Read More
Wheat-an-oats-Daniel-X-ONeil
Data ManagementWill Open-Source Finally Unlock Ag Technology’s Potential?
November 28, 2017
To Aaron Ault’s eyes, ag technology right now is something like a walled garden — not unlike the Microsoft of Read More
Africa/Middle EastPERSPECTIVE: Is Bayer’s Highly Anticipated xarvio App the Next Uber for Ag?
November 22, 2017
As many of our CropLife IRON readers might know, every summer at MAGIE we award the most popular product featured Read More
Used Combine
Service ProvidersFinding New Precision Ag Opportunities in Older Equipment
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
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
Latest News
Drones-belong-in-the-hands-of-growers
Industry NewsPrecisionAg.com’s 17 Most Read Stories in 2017
December 13, 2017
Roughly speaking, we’re a little over two weeks away from blowing out the candles on 2017. It’s been a bizarre Read More
Farmer Advisor
Service Providers2018 Plan: Engaging the Next Generation of Ag Service P…
December 12, 2017
Here at Meister Media Worldwide (MMW) HQ we’re deep in the throes of content planning for 2018. Our rookie season Read More
Field
Decision Support SoftwareCeres Imaging Details New Pest, Disease Detection Produ…
December 12, 2017
Ceres Imaging, which provides science-backed aerial images to growers, will offer Midwestern corn and soybean farmers an early warning system Read More
Claas RTK Field base
Industry NewsCLAAS Taps Syncron for Cloud-Based Spare Parts Manageme…
December 11, 2017
Syncron, a provider of cloud-based after-sales service solutions, today announced CLAAS, a manufacturer of agricultural machinery, has selected Syncron Inventory – Retail Read More
Farmer and computer
Service ProvidersPrecision Agriculture Writers Wanted To Join Our Team i…
December 10, 2017
About The Opportunity: PrecisionAg.com is looking for people to join our team in 2018 and submit original content to our Read More
american-robotics-Scout-Drone
DronesAmerican Robotics Unveils Fully Autonomous Drone System…
December 7, 2017
American Robotics, an industrial drone developer specializing in agricultural automation, has unveiled its flagship product Scout. It is a self-charging, Read More
Industry NewsJohn Deere Upgrades Generation 4 Display Capabilities
December 6, 2017
John Deere has introduced its latest advanced guidance and machine data sharing technology with the addition of three new AutoTrac Read More
Grower-Field-iPad-Connectivity-Photo-Credit-VLab
Business ManagementOpinion: Agtech Boom Is Yet To Come
December 6, 2017
Many agronomists, farmers, and VC groups monitoring the agtech world are proclaiming the startup boom is over. Investments are down, Read More
Data ManagementAgritechnica 2017: Executives Discuss Europe Ag Tech Ad…
December 6, 2017
While North American growers slog through yet another season of depressed farm incomes and commodity markets, across the pond it’s Read More
Bitcoin-for-Agriculture-Source-TheJavaCoincom
Data ManagementWill Bitcoin Work in Agriculture?
December 5, 2017
If you checked the Internet lately, you’ve probably seen the words, Bitcoin, cryptocurrency, and blockchain. I won’t describe them in Read More
Vineyard weeding Robot-Naio-Technologies
Robotics/Labor SaversRobots Are Coming for Your Crop Protection (and Other I…
December 5, 2017
The market for agricultural robotics market is small but burgeoning, and their impact is likely to be quite a bit Read More
John-Deere-Connect-Mobile
Service Providers10 New Mobile Apps for Precision Agriculture
December 5, 2017
Ag professionals continue to reap the rewards of new smartphone apps. And perhaps no segment of farming is benefitting more Read More
On-Farm-Trials-Brazil
AmericasOn-Farm Trials in Brazil: The Way to Improve Agronomic …
December 4, 2017
The idea of using on-farm trials to gather data about the performance of any crop input has been in place Read More
Harvested-Corn-Field-Clouds
Data ManagementWeather Services Advance Precision Agriculture
December 4, 2017
Some estimates suggest over half of growers’ activities are impacted by weather conditions, from field workability to fertility management to harvest Read More
Longford-Silt-Foam-map
Data ManagementUnderstanding Precision Farming and Soil Morphology
December 4, 2017
The USDA Soil Conservation Service, now Natural Resources Conservation Service, has been charged with creating the country’s soil survey. This Read More
Spensa platform
Industry NewsSpensa Adds TerrAvion Aerial Imagery
December 4, 2017
Spensa Technologies announces today its partnership with TerrAvion, a California-based start-up that provides aerial imagery for agriculture. As customers of Spensa Read More
Industry NewsCase IH Announces Updated AFS Data Transfer Capabilitie…
December 4, 2017
Case IH has announced seamless data transfer capabilities between its Advanced Farming Systems (AFS) Connect farm management system and six Read More
Data ManagementCropLife: FBN CEO Appears at ARA 2017 Conference (Recap…
December 2, 2017
Right on the heels of news it has raised $110 million in a Series D funding round, Farmer’s Business Network Read More