The Precision Ag Summit hovers into Jamestown, ND, for its fifth annual appearance, with topics ranging from unmanned aircraft systems (UASs) to “big data” and the financial returns for precision agricultural investments.
The event will be held January 18 and 19.
Like its predecessors, it is designed to share knowledge about precision agriculture, an expansive topic that involves the collection of data about soils, crops and climate, to help farmers make site-specific decisions to be more productive.
Ryan Aasheim is an associate with the Praxis Strategy Group in Fargo, ND, where he oversees activities of the Red River Valley Research Corridor, a nonprofit regional technology-based economic development initiative. Aasheim has worked to coordinate the event through its entire history. Most events again will be held at the North Dakota Farmers Union’s high-tech headquarters convention center.
Registration is $100 for two days, or $60 for the first day. Walk-ins are welcome, although most conference-goers typically pre-register.
Last year’s event drew in about 260 people, which was short of the 330 that came in 2014. Aasheim said the capacity of the NDFU venue has limits, so some of the events at the end of the first day will move to Quality Inn’s ballroom.
New this year will be breakout sessions that offer a choice based on skill levels, much as college courses would, ranging from novice to expert. There will be a “Real Farmers, Real Precision Ag — Navigating Successes and Failures” segment from 8:45 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. on January 19.
Big topics likely to attract attention this year include:
- UAS: January 18 from 2 p.m. to 2:50 p.m., focusing on managing data and imagery; January 19, from 1 p.m. to 1:15 p.m., covering rules for using drones; and 1:15 to 2 p.m., UAS technology options available for farmers today.
- Big data: January 18, 11 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., managing data and data strategies; January 19, 9:45 a.m. to 10:15 a.m., Big Data on the Farm: Privacy and Sharing; and 2 p.m. to 2:45 p.m., “Managing Your Most Elusive Farm Asset.” The speaker will be Terry Griffin, an agricultural economist from Kansas State University in Manhattan.
- Return-on-investment: January 19, 10 a.m. to 11 a.m., Brian Watkins, Watkins Farm and Cropzilla; and 1 p.m. to 1:50 p.m., “Optimizing Your Equipment — Getting the Most of Your investment.”
Aasheim said the manufacturer segment will allow producers to attend sessions for their particular supplier, whether John Deere, Trimble, Case-IH or others. “We wanted those sessions to be pretty interactive, as in, ‘Here’s what I’m doing on my operation; here’s what I’m struggling with. What kind of guidance would you give me?'”
Crop consultants helping with the event planning say some of their clients have purchased significant data-collection technology that goes unused because the equipment isn’t calibrated or fully understood.
The “Big Data” topic, in which data — collected on the ground, in the air or from space — allows farmers and others to overlay complex data sets on crops, weather, fertility, diseases, weeds and other issues. These can be knit together and analyzed or manipulated through computers and mobile devices. They allow farmers to make correlations that were unavailable in the past.