Another new year is upon us! And I’m certain I speak for many in the agricultural world when I say that very few people in the industry are probably glad 2016 is done with, for a variety of reasons. But let’s not dwell upon the past and instead look to the future.
What kind of year can we expect 2017 to be? Usually, market watchers can get some idea of what’s coming in the year ahead from the many fall trade shows and meetings that take place. However, the end-of-year events for ag retailers in 2016 didn’t really provide much consensus. Opinion split almost evenly in three different directions: 1) 2017 would be slightly better than 2016; 2) 2017 would be slightly worse than 2016; 3) 2017 would be identical to 2016. In other words, the view of the overall market fortunes for the new year is currently clear as mud.
But there was one area of the agricultural market that seems poised to explode in 2017: Precision agriculture. Even though many of the fall shows and meetings were not full-blown trade shows with lots of Big IRON on the floor, various pieces of precision ag technology were present in great numbers. Many events featured software suppliers offering up the latest in crop yield/application aids. In other cases, examples of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) were in big supply. In fact, at the annual Agricultural Retailers Association meeting in Orlando, FL, in late November, there were no less than a half-dozen UAV models exhibited at company booths on the trade show floor. This included the AgEagle from Raven Industries and PrecisionHawk. According to several of these exhibitors, interest in UAVs has increased significantly since the Federal Aviation Administration formally approved operating regulations in September.
And this level of interest is being borne out based upon CropLife® magazine’s own research. In fact, during our annual CropLife 100 survey of the nation’s top ag retailers, slightly more than half of this group is already employing or planning to employ UAVs in their precision ag operations during 2017. Furthermore, 60% of CropLife 100 retailers said their precision agriculture revenues improved between 1% and 5% in 2016.
“From drones and robots to sensors and big data, ag technology continues its exponential growth,” said my co-worker Paul Schrimpf in a recent editorial.
For many years now, we’ve covered this trend with our sister publication, PrecisionAg magazine. But starting with February 2017, we are re-dedicating this effort with a new name — PrecisionAg Professional — and focus on ag retailers. Look for this exciting new magazine to poly bag with your February 2017 edition of CropLife to keep pace with all the developments in this rapidly changing and important segment of the marketplace.
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PrecisionAg Innovation Series
In addition to the new magazine, PrecisionAg Professional is hosting a series of one-day conferences designed specifically for precision agriculture professionals and technology integrators at the field level. At the PrecisionAg Professional Innovation Series event, you can connect with ag retailers and cooperatives, agronomic and precision consultants, extension specialists, and equipment dealers, and discover which technologies are gaining traction, which have current and future value, and key lessons learned during the implementation process.
The next Innovation Series event is “Technology and the Crop Production Channel: Improving Service, Enhancing Grower Value,” February 22, 2017 at the Renaissance St. Louis Airport Hotel. For more information, visit www.precisionaginnovation.com.