In the overall agriculture market, the rhetoric surrounding emerging technology over the past half-decade has been nothing short of breathless. Thanks to an infusion of investment and product development largely (but not exclusively) emanating from Silicon Valley, precision service providers have endured all measure of devices, applications, and techniques being heaped upon the market.
Some of the developments have proven useful, but many others have crashed and burned or been acquired and integrated. In 2018 the sorting out of the victors and the vanquished continues.
Retail professionals have seen all of this before — turn the clock back nearly two decades to the dot-com bust, when any internet-plus-agriculture model was going to revolutionize the industry. Going back even further, it took 20 years for tractors to fully supplant horses on U.S. farms.
The lesson learned (re-learned) is that change occurs slowly in agriculture (certainly too slow for 99% of venture capital companies to recoup an investment), and that for any technology to be adopted, it absolutely must integrate immediately into existing practices. It is also imperative that the precision service provider — the grower’s most trusted advisor — is at the center of any effort to integrate a product or practice.
Finally, there’s a welcome refocus on delivering value on foundational agronomic services, from soil sampling and prescription creation to variable-rate application and field scouting.
What this means in 2018 is that for retailers who provide precision services, establishing clear farm value to the services they offer is absolutely paramount — value that can be measured in a variety of ways. To get at retail strategies for establishing value, and what value points are most important, CropLife® magazine conducted an electronic survey of retail managers to get a sense for what factors are effective in driving precision programs. This article captures the six most interesting observations from the survey of retail managers.
1. Respondents indicate they are registering value gains from precision in the form of decreasing input application.