Recap: The Ohio State University Explores Ag Tech ROI at Soybean Workshop

Students Soybean FieldHow do soybean producers begin to extract value from the vast selection of digital tools available in agriculture today? At the ROI of Digital Tools for Soybean Producers Workshop on September 8th, nearly 30 individuals including growers, Extension professionals, industry, and university researchers from six states gathered to discuss this question.

The event, organized and hosted by the Digital Ag Team of The Ohio State University and sponsored by the United Soybean Board and The Ohio State University Extension, was held at the Beck’s Hybrids in London, OH, in an effort to better understand how growers view the value of these digital tools and services.

According to AgFunder’s midyear report for 2016, $1.75B was invested in ag tech. With new and mature companies pushing data and digital services, farmers are faced with a challenge: to understand the digital technologies available and how they could be used successfully. The focus of the day was facilitating conversation between the people who create, sell, and use digital agriculture tools. Understanding what growers need from these tools in order to see a return on their investments for these technologies is crucial for making progress towards finding data solutions that work.

The interactive workshop made it possible for participants to ask questions and respond to survey questions, in real-time throughout the presentations, which ensured the discussion centered around information that matters to soybean producers. The day featured speakers from both industry and academia who presented thoughts and information about digital tools including: data warehousing, production benchmarking, production analysis, in-season monitoring, crop modeling, and recommendations. Workshop participants gained valuable knowledge about the current state of ag technology, on-going research to determine value, and the digital tools within the industry pipeline.

As the day progressed, the challenges hindering grower adoption of digital tools became apparent. A primary concern expressed by the growers are the roadblocks that prevent data from being simple to manage and access. When asked about the limitations of existing digital agriculture technologies, 35% of participants selected “ease of use.” However, making digital tools easy to use is not a straightforward task, especially when incoming data is as diverse as the data being generated in agriculture.

Not surprisingly, another commonly mentioned issue that hinders the usability of digital tools was the lack of interoperability and finding ways to eliminate the burden of moving data around to be able to use it.

When asked if digital tools that provide data warehousing would provide value, 87% of participants said “yes.”

One participant noted, “There isn’t any one way to view all your information. The question is how do we use [digital tools] together to our best ability.” Several presenters were ready to demonstrate how these concerns are being addressed. Jay Witkop of John Deere, and Seth Smoot with The Climate Corporation, provided insights into how each company is working towards a smoother data flow and more user-friendly interfaces. Once the ag community finds solutions to the logistical problems of data management, these digital tools will be able to translate data into information that can bring value to growers.

The potential value of digital tools is something participants were able to get excited about. Ninety-one percent of participants agreed with the statement “I would feel more confident in my decisions if I had more accurate, better quality data.” Dr. Joe Luck at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Dr. Laura Lindsay, a soybean research professor at The Ohio State University, discussed the current applications and opportunities for using data to improve the profitability of soybean production. Both delivered overviews of current research being conducted at land-grant universities that are generating the knowledge necessary to enhance the services digital tools provide.

Mike Hannewald from Beck’s Hybrids, explained how they use the Practical On-Farm Research facility as testing grounds to identify the ways data can be used to guide decision-making at the farm level.

Participants also weighed in on what they believed to be key research priorities. The top response was soil fertility, selected by 35% of the participants. Seed recommendations and crop health monitoring were other popular answers, with 26% and 22%, respectively. Despite current research, 30% of the participants feel that the return on investment of digital tools are limited. Jeremy Wilson with CropIMS, thinks the reason for this is because most growers have neglected to collect enough high quality data to set the foundation for their “House of Information.” Wilson, who also farms, explained for participants the strategy he uses to uncover and then understand field variation and how managing it differently impacts his bottom line.

At the end of the day, attendees left with a fresh perspective on ag technology. Taking the time to have these in-depth conversations is valuable because it allows representatives from different sectors of agriculture to weigh in on what’s important right now, what works well, and what aspects of ag technology still need refinement. The conversations that took place at the workshop helped to better frame the challenges and opportunities growers are facing with digital technologies. With more research and discussion, comes hopes that in the near future there is a better understanding of the value digital technologies can provide farmers.

Leave a Reply

Data Management Stories
Farm-Storm-Clouds-Photo-Eden-Hills
Data ManagementThe Precipitation Problem in Agriculture
April 17, 2018
Precipitation is arguably the most important agricultural weather parameter, yet it is the most difficult variable to precisely measure. For Read More
Facebook-phone
Data ManagementWhat Lessons Can the Ag Industry Learn from the Facebook Data Breach? How to Tell if Your Ag Data is Secure
April 12, 2018
Today, a seemingly endless amount of ag data flows from growers’ fields into a host of technology platforms. It is Read More
Data ManagementREPORT: Bayer’s Digital Farming Business Slated for BASF Takeover
April 11, 2018
Germany’s Bayer plans to sell its digital farming business to BASF as part of changes to concessions it has offered Read More
Grower Retaile iPad
Data ManagementRobust Crop Scouting Requires Advanced Data Collection
April 2, 2018
Disclaimer: I have never been a crop scout. My intolerance for insects insinuating themselves in places that are competing for Read More
Trending Articles
SDSU-drone
Business ManagementInside the Key Strategies For Selling Precision Ag Services
April 13, 2018
In its earliest manifestation, the motive for developing precision agriculture service was entirely pure. Agronomists knew that crops were responding Read More
CROO Robotics’ automated strawberry harvester
Robotics/Labor SaversSpecialty Crops: Get in Gear Now for Agriculture’s Robotic Revolution
April 11, 2018
While the immigration debate rages on in Washington, DC, with little chance for reform in sight, the uncertain labor picture Read More
InSiteDCM
Business ManagementDelivering on Ag Data Value
April 3, 2018
Bruce Baier is another deeply experienced precision agriculture manager who survived the early years of ag technology while riding the Read More
University-of-Georgia-photo-credit-USDA
Business Management25 Best Colleges for Precision Agriculture
March 21, 2018
Choosing the right college is a process. It’s one that I’m just now embarking on with my teenage daughter. Long Read More
Farmer-tablet
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
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
Latest News
Industry NewsClimate Corp Announces 5 New FieldView Integrations
April 23, 2018
The Climate Corporation announced the addition of five industry-leading partners to The Climate Corporation’s Climate FieldView digital agriculture platform. The Read More
Laura_Crook_WinterWheat_Blackgrass_PrecisionAg
Industry NewsKansas Software Outfit Ag Developer Announces agX Integ…
April 23, 2018
Ag Developer, a Kansas based software development company, is simplifying grower/advisor communications by connecting to the agX Platform, according to Read More
field_in_back_1000_wd-featured-image
Industry NewsAyrstone Introduces High-Speed WiFi System for Farms
April 20, 2018
WiFi has become a necessity, and a proliferation of new WiFi devices have come to market for urban homes and Read More
Indian-Agriculture
AsiaIndian IoT Platform for Pre and Post Harvest Raises See…
April 19, 2018
Indian startup AgNext has raised an undisclosed seed round led by India-focused Agtech VC Omnivore Partners along with Singaporean angel Read More
Bayer-Forward-Farming
Industry NewsMaryland Farm Opens as Hub of Learning about Sustainabl…
April 19, 2018
Fourth-generation Maryland farmer Trey Hill measures the success of his operation not just by how many bushels of corn, soybeans, Read More
THRIVE
Industry NewsAgritech Startup Backers Announce New Corporate Partner…
April 18, 2018
Entering its fourth year, the THRIVE Venture & Innovation platform announced today the nine finalists and investment in its spring Read More
computer-in-field
EventsFinding Our Way in the Business of Precision Agricultur…
April 17, 2018
Service providers are the essential link between precision agriculture products and practices and the farmers who are increasingly relying on Read More
Farm-Storm-Clouds-Photo-Eden-Hills
Data ManagementThe Precipitation Problem in Agriculture
April 17, 2018
Precipitation is arguably the most important agricultural weather parameter, yet it is the most difficult variable to precisely measure. For Read More
Digital-Farming
Business Management7 Factors That Could Make or Break Digital Farming
April 13, 2018
Digital farming is the new technology genie – a genie that is now out of the bottle and cannot be Read More
SDSU-drone
Business ManagementInside the Key Strategies For Selling Precision Ag Serv…
April 13, 2018
In its earliest manifestation, the motive for developing precision agriculture service was entirely pure. Agronomists knew that crops were responding Read More
Facebook-phone
Data ManagementWhat Lessons Can the Ag Industry Learn from the Faceboo…
April 12, 2018
Today, a seemingly endless amount of ag data flows from growers’ fields into a host of technology platforms. It is Read More
DronesWhen High Value Crops Meet Inaccessible Areas: How Dron…
April 12, 2018
Avocados are one of the few crops in Chile that can economically be commercially cultivated on hills. On one hand Read More
Almond-trees-blooming
Sensors/IoTWhy Virtual Sensors Could Save California’s At-Ri…
April 12, 2018
To say that the Golden State can lay claim to the title of king of almonds might be an understatement. Read More
AgJunction, InfoAg 2014, Autosteer, GPS
Industry NewsAgJunction Launches Online Store, Low Cost Guidance Sys…
April 12, 2018
AgJunction today announced the opening of the HandsFreeFarm.com online store to bring low-cost, simple-to-use precision agriculture solutions direct to all Read More
aggateway
Business ManagementAgGateway Encourages Use of Standard Identifiers with A…
April 11, 2018
AgGateway, the non-profit organization with the mission to promote and enable the industry’s transition to digital agriculture, is offering a Read More
Remote-Soil-Sensing-Mapping
Imagery/SensingRemote Soil Sensing Enhances Precision Farming, Promote…
April 11, 2018
Precision agriculture management requires understanding soil at increasingly finer scales. Conventional soil sampling and laboratory analyses often lack this granularity Read More
Data ManagementREPORT: Bayer’s Digital Farming Business Slated f…
April 11, 2018
Germany’s Bayer plans to sell its digital farming business to BASF as part of changes to concessions it has offered Read More
Corn
Industry NewsSentera Announces New FieldAgent Features
April 11, 2018
Sentera announces the availability of high-fidelity crop stand, weed pressure mapping, spot scouting maps, and free local image stitching within Read More