The Music Of Precision Agriculture

More than 30 years ago, while cleaning out my grandparents’ attic, I came across a number of crystal radios in various stages of assembly. It appeared that my grandfather was intrigued with the new radio technology of the 1920s and had made several attempts at constructing a workable crystal set. What impressed me was all this effort to “hear the music.” Given the limited technology choices of his day, my grandfather committed time and money to a new technology that could receive music from some faraway place.

Very likely, the music heard over these pioneering units was barely audible and of poor quality, but it represented a successful effort nonetheless. In a matter of a decade after his initial trials and tribulations with this new radio technology, my grandfather could probably walk in a store and buy a unit that with the turn of a knob could provide reception as good as or better than anything he built.

The insight I got from seeing my grandfather’s extensive involvement with these early radios was his labor of love for new technologies. His working on that new frontier of radio technology and hearing the results of his labors were, for him, magical. Yes, the end goal of listening to music in the comfort of his home for the single price of a unit and a bit of electricity was undoubtedly a driving force, but being one of the first to do so was irresistible.

This fascination with new technologies was played out again some 60 years after radios with the introduction of personal computers. The same desire to “hear the music” — although the melody was now digital output — drove a later generation of technical enthusiasts to work with computer kits. And like the early crystal radios, the pioneers of the 1980s assembled the various components of a personal computer in order to see the magic of electronic text and calculations in their homes.

There was, however, a significant difference in the qualifications of individuals working on a radio vs. a personal computer. Compared to early radios, personal computers were, in a word, complicated. The knowledge needed to build a personal computer was significantly greater than that needed to build a radio. The trial and error approach used with early crystal radios was applicable to early personal computers only if individuals had a clear understanding of how the pieces fit together. Consequently, the people willing to put in the time and effort to make computer technology work were likely smaller in number compared to those fascinated with radios. And, inversely, the larger population of people who wanted to use but not build these early personal computers also wanted units that could be started with the equivalent of “turning a knob.” Thus, the desire for “user-friendly” systems became the mantra of the industry back then and today.

Fine-Tuning The Marketplace

The same magical force that drove individuals to become pioneers with radio and personal computers developed with precision agriculture. The same gradient between radio and personal computers is applicable between personal computers and precision agriculture technologies. Enthusiasts today are just as enamored with new technologies as their counterparts in the past, but they must have a greater working knowledge of these technologies to be successful in precision agriculture compared to personal computers or radios. In fact, radios and computers are part of today’s precision agriculture technologies.

Technologists in precision agriculture are more “integrators” than builders. The end goal of precision agriculture is not some stand-alone unit like a radio or personal computer, but rather an “integration” of technologies: an integration that can accommodate new innovations, such as those showcased in this issue, seamlessly. An integration that awards those individuals and companies that can bring technologies together in a user-friendly and cost-effective manner to support production decision-making and improved field practices.

The integration of precision agriculture technologies must not only address the needs of growers today, but also anticipate the needs of tomorrow. Advances in seed genomics, robotics, logistics tracking, traceability, in-field sensors, decision-support software, and other mechanical and informational technologies will take today’s integration to a new level. These advances, like the technologies of today, will demand individuals with the knowledge, skill, and experience to make precision agriculture a reality in the future.

In the end, it is always about the ability to “hear the music.” The “technology tune-up” theme of this issue is the melody of today’s precision agriculture. With the proper integration of new technologies, this melody can be the music of a profitable season for both the grower and the supporting cast of industry.

Leave a Reply

Specialty Crops Stories
Robotics Specialty Crops
EventsPrecision in Specialty Crops Gains Momentum
September 20, 2017
When John Deere acquired Blue River Technologies (BRT) recently, BRT’s See & Spray technology received plenty of play. Yet many Read More
forbes-agtech-summit
Precision IrrigationImproving Water Management: Can Silicon Valley Help?
September 13, 2017
I recently attended the Forbes AgTech Summit in Salinas, CA, where roughly 50 start-up companies originating from Silicon Valley and Read More
Robotics/Labor SaversBlue River, Deere Deal Will Accelerate Farm Robot Innovation
September 11, 2017
No, Blue River Co-founder and CEO Jorge Heraud has not been deposed — Gaddafi-style — by big, bad corporate overlord Read More
Corn Field Sunset
DronesArtificial Intelligence Is Changing the Farms of the Future
September 7, 2017
The farming industry is on the cusp of a so-called ‘technological revolution,’ writes Sohini Bagchi on CXOToday.com. With drones, robots Read More
Trending Articles
John-Deere-labs
Tools & Smart EquipmentHow John Deere’s New AI Lab Is Designing Farm Equipment for a More Sustainable Future
September 15, 2017
On a block in San Francisco’s SoMa district, near LinkedIn’s headquarters and dozens of startups, a 180-year-old company best-known for Read More
BASF Maglis grower retailer tablet
Data ManagementWhat Will Happen to My Data? Understanding Your Rights in Precision Agriculture
September 12, 2017
The use of precision agriculture-based decision making to determine fertilizer rates and hybrid types and planting rates is becoming more Read More
Robotics/Labor SaversBlue River, Deere Deal Will Accelerate Farm Robot Innovation
September 11, 2017
No, Blue River Co-founder and CEO Jorge Heraud has not been deposed — Gaddafi-style — by big, bad corporate overlord Read More
Farming at Sunset
Business ManagementAgtech Issues: The Shiny Object Syndrome
September 6, 2017
Do you remember those cartoons where someone lures someone else by placing a piece of candy, small amount of money, Read More
AgQuip overview
Australia/New ZealandAgQuip 2017 Displays New Ag Technology in Australia
August 28, 2017
The annual AgQuip field days took place in Gunnedah, NSW on August 22-24. Being the largest agricultural field days in Read More
Agri-AFC-cotton-baler
Business ManagementBringing a Southern Sensibility to Precision Agriculture
August 7, 2017
Amy Winstead considers herself blessed to have gotten in on the ground floor of precision ag adoption in the Southeast. Read More
Latest News
Systems ManagementBayer Dismisses Antitrust Concerns about Digital Farmin…
September 20, 2017
Bayer said it was unable to propose the sale of any digital farming assets to allay EU concerns about its Read More
Farmer with iPad
Australia/New ZealandAgrian Expands into Australia
September 20, 2017
In line with a familiar growth trajectory, Agrian Inc. is moving into Australia with a physical support and sales presence Read More
Robotics Specialty Crops
EventsPrecision in Specialty Crops Gains Momentum
September 20, 2017
When John Deere acquired Blue River Technologies (BRT) recently, BRT’s See & Spray technology received plenty of play. Yet many Read More
Decision Support SoftwareSyngenta Helps Lead Efforts for Farm Management Softwar…
September 19, 2017
Ag data from tractors, combines, planters, and other farm machinery present a huge opportunity for growers to manage their operations Read More
Petra-Andren-Cicada-Innovations
Australia/New ZealandGrowLab’s Rocket Fuel for AgTech in Australia
September 19, 2017
Despite its superpower status as a producer and exporter of agricultural goods and services, up until now Australia has had Read More
CropIn-Team-Photo-credit-BW-Disrupt
AsiaCropIn Aims to be a Global Leader in AgTech Sector
September 19, 2017
Krishna Kumar created AgTech startup, CropIn Technology in 2010, along with co-founders Kunal Prasad and Chittranjan Jena. The trio went Read More
China-Beidou-Navigation-Satellite-System
AsiaChina’s Navigation System Gets Powerful Chip to I…
September 18, 2017
A new powerful chip technology has been introduced in China’s national satellite navigation system to provide high-precision positioning, according to Read More
Tablet Grower
Industry NewsFieldReveal Names Hesse New CEO
September 18, 2017
Matt Hesse has been selected as the Chief Executive Officer of FieldReveal, a newly launched joint venture formed to deliver Read More
John-Deere-labs
Tools & Smart EquipmentHow John Deere’s New AI Lab Is Designing Farm Equipment…
September 15, 2017
On a block in San Francisco’s SoMa district, near LinkedIn’s headquarters and dozens of startups, a 180-year-old company best-known for Read More
Wheat sunrise
Australia/New ZealandSparkLabs Group Launches an Agricultural Tech Accelerat…
September 15, 2017
SparkLabs Group, which claims to be the largest startup accelerator group in Asia, is stepping into agricultural tech with a Read More
Sensors/IoTCollaboration Leverages Internet of Things, Sensors in …
September 15, 2017
The vision of having license-free community sensor networks for agricultural users has made a giant leap closer to reality. A Read More
Young Corn Field
Data ManagementPurdue Online Tool to Help Farmers Make Precision Decis…
September 14, 2017
An innovative online tool developed by a Purdue University engineering professor will allow farmers to process data collected from their Read More
forbes-agtech-summit
Precision IrrigationImproving Water Management: Can Silicon Valley Help?
September 13, 2017
I recently attended the Forbes AgTech Summit in Salinas, CA, where roughly 50 start-up companies originating from Silicon Valley and Read More
Nate-Dorsey-Field-Trial-Curve-Compensation
Systems ManagementField Trial: Precision Application and Curve Compensati…
September 13, 2017
Several months ago I wrote an article about curve compensation in planters and how these systems can help create more Read More
Diamondback moth
Tools & Smart EquipmentTechAccel Invests in Unique Sprayable RNAi Pesticide Te…
September 12, 2017
TechAccel, the Kansas City-based technology and venture development company, has announced it has awarded the first grant under its “Path Read More
BASF Maglis grower retailer tablet
Data ManagementWhat Will Happen to My Data? Understanding Your Rights …
September 12, 2017
The use of precision agriculture-based decision making to determine fertilizer rates and hybrid types and planting rates is becoming more Read More
Terra
Imagery/SensingAerial Imagery Aids Decision-Making
September 12, 2017
As the growing season has progressed, aerial imagery has been part of the world record setting data-collection efforts for Terra, Read More
Hurricane-satellite-image
Decision Support SoftwareKeeping Things in Perspective: Weather vs. Climate in O…
September 12, 2017
As I write this, we are on the heels of catastrophic flooding in Houston due to Hurricane Harvey, and another Read More