Leading By Example

Much is written about the contributions of large organizations in driving advancements in agriculture. But the industry also has benefited tremendously from the entrepreneurial spirit and drive of many individuals, working on their own or with small groups, providing focus and vision to ag’s biggest challenges. This year’s PrecisionAg Awards of Excellence honored three such individuals who followed their own visions, built successful businesses, and advanced the state of ag technology.

Allen Myers, president, Ag Leader Technology

Myers’ efforts in the 1980s led to the development of the first commercially viable yield monitor, a remarkable accomplishment in and of itself. But today, Myers is most pleased that his initial ideas have spawned an organization beyond his own visions.

“What I’m most proud of at this point is that I’ve given a lot of opportunities to smart, young, aggressive people that have taken the technology far beyond what I could have done alone,” says Myers. Even for the people who came to Ag Leader and then decided to leave, Myers recognizes that the training and experience afforded them enhanced the state of precision agriculture wherever they ended up.

“We brought a lot of people up to speed, and that’s played a part in fostering the growth of precision agriculture and helped push it along,” says Myers.

Today, precision is undergoing a “very rapid rate of adoption,” notes Myers, because of the accuracy available in GPS technology. “It’s enabling the auto swath control on sprayers and (planter control on) planters,” he says. “That will continue to get more sophisticated all the time because of the ability to be accurate and control things very precisely.”

Also driving adoption is the fact that more growers are getting comfortable with technology. “They realize that if they are going to make a full-time business from farming that they need to get into precision,” says Myers. “They are very concerned about the rising cost of inputs, and technology can help them save a lot of dollars and keep more of the income coming in from higher crop prices.”

Joe Russo, ZedX, Inc.

ZedX Inc. is probably best known for the development of AgFleet software for data collection and management, but the company has been building a wide range of electronic tools that help collect, manage, and interpret data for many years. Some of these tools, which include modeling programs for weather and pest infestations, were ahead of their time in terms of wider adoption by agriculture. But Russo is hopeful that technology advancement is going to make the tools more accessible, and work more seamlessly, in the near future.

“What’s happened is that the communication infrastructure is starting to get there,” says Russo. “That is what’s really been keeping some of these tools from being accessible. But we’re seeing wide area networks coming on line, and cellular technology, and we can piggyback and use these ‘roads’ to get to the grower.”

Maturing sensor technology is also an opportunity for advancement. “This area is really advancing — we have been waiting for technology that would allow the integration of real time monitors tied into advances in modeling. I think that communication, coupled with the ability to collect real time data in the field to tie into a network and add modeling, can create management products today that we could not do just a little while ago,” he says.

Russo says demand for tools has increased in recent years. “One of the surprising developments is that growers are asking us directly to provide help with issues they face, such as food safety and labor. There are real issues that translate into real dollar losses if they are not dealt with.”

Ted Macy, MapShots

Macy has toiled for many years trying to help growers collect data and understand what it means. The high cost, high reward world of agriculture today has made the conversations with growers a bit easier.

“There is definitely an increase in grower interest about getting better, more complete data,” says Macy. He also recognizes that those who come to him today are not the eager early adopters of the past. “The people originally involved with precision agriculture would jump through hoops to get reports of how many bags of seed were used and how many gallons of glyphosate were applied,” says Macy. “The next round of adopters are not as willing to jump those hoops.”

What’s making things easier are new, more powerful field devices that come very close to letting a grower do complete recordkeeping from the cab of the tractor, explains Macy. “As soon as we get to the point where we know what product got put into the machine without the operator having to make a selection, then we will have it.”

In recent years, the proliferation of guidance has had a tremendous impact on adoption overall. “I’m not sure that guidance alone fits the ‘right product, right place, right time’ definition of precision, but it has really brought the technology into the machine. Growers that have it in a piece of equipment are looking at other ways to use it, such as variable-rate seed and fertilizer. In the past they might have had trouble pushing a pencil on something like that,” says Macy.

On the whole, Macy says that the most satisfying part of his job is working with top growers and helping them succeed. “The guys in our organization are from a farming background and are very passionate about it,” says Macy. “We live vicariously through these growers, who are really top managers. To be able to sit with them and discover that decisions were because of what we learned from data we helped capture is gratifying.”

Leave a Reply

PrecisionAg Institute Stories
WinField’s Joel Wipperfurth On Empowering Data-Driven Decisions
InfoAg ConferenceOne on One with Joel Wipperfurth, Winfield United
August 15, 2018
Winfield United's Joel Wipperfurth discusses ag technology trends and topics during last month’s InfoAg Conference. Read More
1 On 1 With Paul Schrimpf: Simplot’s Allan Fetters
PrecisionAg InstituteOne on One With Simplot’s Allan Fetters
August 8, 2018
Allan Fetters of PrecisionAg Institute partner Simplot Grower Solutions talks about techology trends and key learnings from the recent InfoAg Conference in this exclusive interview with PrecisionAg's Paul Schrimpf. Read More
PrecisionAg InstitutePrecisionAg Institute Whitepaper Library
August 1, 2018
Welcome to the PrecisionAg Institute Whitepaper library! Here you will find free whitepapers and case studies from the PrecisionAg Institute Partners Read More
Excellence AwardsPassion for Teaching: Purdue’s Bruce Erickson
August 1, 2018
PrecisionAg Award of Excellence recipient Bruce Erickson is driven to share his knowledge of precision technologies and techniques with students, as well as the larger agriculture community. Read More
Trending Articles
Data ManagementAre You Using Your Soil to Its Full Potential?
September 14, 2018
Harvest is progressing across most parts of the U.S. and those growers who aren’t already harvesting are gearing up to Read More
Imagery/SensingAgtech: 10 Things I Hate About You!
September 4, 2018
Before you get bent out of shape from the title, remember if you’ve read my articles before you know I Read More
Kansas State University
Industry NewsKansas State University, Topcon Form Precision Ag Research Partnership
August 30, 2018
Kansas State University and Topcon Agriculture are collaborating to develop tools and systems to advance precision agriculture and support farmers. Read More
Blockchain building block graphic
Specialty CropsIs Blockchain the Future of Food Safety?
August 24, 2018
When the Internet Protocol Suite (TCP/IP) was standardized in 1982, permitting the worldwide proliferation of interconnected networks and eventually the Read More
WinField’s Joel Wipperfurth On Empowering Data-Driven Decisions
InfoAg ConferenceOne on One with Joel Wipperfurth, Winfield United
August 15, 2018
Winfield United's Joel Wipperfurth discusses ag technology trends and topics during last month’s InfoAg Conference. Read More
Industry NewsUrtheCast to Acquire Geosys from Land O’Lakes in $20 Million Deal
August 15, 2018
UrtheCast Corp. and Land O’Lakes, Inc. today announced they have entered a binding term sheet for the purchase of Geosys Read More
Latest News
Corn field sunset
Decision Support SoftwareLand O’Lakes SUSTAIN Launches Ambitious Digital S…
September 24, 2018
Land O’Lakes SUSTAIN today announced its plan to roll out the Truterra Insights Engine, an interactive on-farm digital platform that Read More
Business ManagementIvy Tech, Farmers Partner to Help Precision Ag Educatio…
September 20, 2018
Harvest time has taken on a new meaning for some Wabash Valley farmers, and Bobbi Hunt-Kincaid hopes her family’s first Read More
Sensors/IoTThe Answer to Agriculture’s Daunting Challenges – Soil …
September 20, 2018
According to the United Nations, 9.6 billion people will live on planet Earth by 2050. Feeding these mouths will require Read More
Data ManagementRainfall Revisited: Accurate Observations and Beyond
September 18, 2018
As a provider of weather analysis and forecast services to the agricultural industry, one of the most common questions I Read More
Business ManagementWhy Is Funding a Challenge for Women-Led Agtech Compani…
September 17, 2018
When it comes to women-led agtech companies the funding discussion never seems to cease. In June after the The New Read More
Mobile Phone in field
Decision Support SoftwareWhy Are 570 Million Farmers Not Yet Using Agricultural …
September 17, 2018
Until recently, using agricultural apps and software was a rare practice among growers. This is now changing. The mass adoption Read More
Data ManagementAre You Using Your Soil to Its Full Potential?
September 14, 2018
Harvest is progressing across most parts of the U.S. and those growers who aren’t already harvesting are gearing up to Read More
Grower Services & SolutionsDeere-Granular Collaboration Produces New Profit Maps T…
September 14, 2018
The newest development from the ongoing John Deere-Granular product development and marketing collaboration is Profit Maps, now available to farmers Read More
DronesOpinion: Combining Two Pluses with the WingtraOne UAV
September 13, 2018
For the every-day consumer interested in UAVs, there is an ocean of products from which to choose. This includes the Read More
AsiaShould Agri-Input Manufacturers Outsource E-Commerce to…
September 12, 2018
Editor’s note: Venky Ramachandran is a contributing writer for PrecisionAg.com’s sister site, AgriBusinessGlobal.com. This article was originally published on LinkedIn. Now, Read More
Industry NewsValley Irrigation Adds Remote Irrigation Management Opt…
September 11, 2018
Valley Irrigation, an industry leader in smart irrigation solutions, has announced enhancements to its remote management technologies. Multi-Year Licensing In Read More
Variable Rate ApplicationVariable Rate Fertigation System Expands with Mobile Co…
September 10, 2018
Building on the success of its Reflex Variable Rate Fertigation system, Agri-Inject has taken fluid injection to the next level Read More
Industry NewsTeralytic Earns Ag Data Transparent Certification
September 10, 2018
Soil analytics company Teralytic has completed the Ag Data Transparent certification, affirming that their data use is private, secure, and Read More
Business ManagementTop 20 Two-Year Colleges for Precision Agriculture
September 10, 2018
Earlier this year, I compiled a list of the 25 best colleges for precision agriculture. It was quite the process. Read More
Industry NewsRaven, Topcon Announce Slingshot API Agreement
September 6, 2018
Raven Industries and Topcon Agriculture announced today a licensing agreement for Topcon Agriculture’s use of the Slingshot Application Programming Interface Read More
Tablet Grower
Data ManagementThe Power of Predictive Analytics in Agriculture
September 5, 2018
Years ago if we would have been told computers, data, and technology would be scattered around every farm there may Read More
DronessenseFly Launches eBee X Drone, Breaks Through 1,000 ac…
September 5, 2018
senseFly today reportedly sets a new standard in mapping tools with the launch of the eBee X. Launched with the Read More
AmericasOn The Scene: 2018 Farm Progress Show Wrap Up
September 5, 2018
Former Monsanto President (now Bayer CropScience Chief Operating Office) Brett Begemann’s opening salvo during his first appearance at a Farm Read More