Precision Ag Technology: Use It, Don’t Lose It in 2018

With the start of the New Year, I always find myself reflecting on the past year and identifying what worked well and what didn’t to focus on opportunities missed in the previous year. As I looked back in the world of precision agriculture, I was excited with the opportunities producers have with equipment, software, analysis tools, and agronomy insight that new and existing precision agriculture platforms and organizations can bring to each farm. As I thought into this, the one thing I wanted to drive home was that for these tools to work to the top potential, we must make sure we’re giving them the opportunity to succeed. For 2018, my message to producers is to make sure and use it, don’t lose it, in working with precision tools this upcoming season. To ensure success, it is critical that each tool is set up for success to perform at the highest return.

Seed Choice

Many options are available for planters today, and the amount of precision and accuracy these machines can deliver is endless. Before placing that high-tech and state-of-the-art planter in the ground, I believe it is critical to make sure that planter can succeed, and this starts with the seed. We only get one choice (exception of multi-hybrid or variety planting) of seed to put in the ground, and even if we have the best planter equipped with all the works, if we don’t have the right seed for the conditions of the field, we may lose out on opportunity.

Field Work Conditions

Like seed choice, with many field work conditions we only get one chance before we move on to the next, or before weather can get in the way. For planting, it is critical our planters are set up correctly for the seed and soil conditions to reach maximum opportunity. If we are working the ground with tillage passes, ensuring soil isn’t too wet to create compaction for later headaches is critical. Even with high-tech precision equipment, if we struggle with seeding, create compaction layers, or plant with skips or uneven emergence, our planter or tillage pass can’t save us from losing out on opportunity in 2018.

Irrigation Management

For irrigated producers, it can be a struggle to determine when to irrigate, where to put water, and how much water to put across a field. Luckily, many irrigation management technologies and tools are available for producers in precision agriculture. Even with the best seed, fertilizer, and precision equipment money can buy, if irrigation is off by under- or over-watered applications, fields can lose out on maximum opportunity. Make sure to not miss opportunity by washing away investments such as fertilizer or chemicals, and giving the crops you grow optimum environments to do so.

Soil Testing

Before precision applications occur, or decisions are made on what to apply, a solid foundation of what is going on in each field is critical for efficiencies and maximizing opportunity this season. When we know what is in the ground and what is available to our crops, we can maximize efficiencies across the field with whatever precision application equipment we get to work with. Don’t leave fields with missed opportunities due to a small deficiency that has been unknown, or lose out on profit due to over application in other areas.


A popular tool the last few years, imagery can provide quick and detailed insight across fields without large expenditures. Being able to check on a problem, and identify it quickly can make in-season decisions easier and maximize opportunity before problems can cause yield and/or profit loss. Whichever imagery provider or type you use, be sure to continually check and consult on what is happening in-season, to make quick decisions without missing opportunity.

Test Plots

One of the biggest opportunities I see with precision agriculture tools is to learn on your farm what works and what tools have the most impact on your acres with high accuracy and ease. With precision equipped planters, try different seed rates, or strip trials to see what works best across variations in the field. With different input application equipment, what rates or methods work best for different crops or fields? Test plots can be done at high precision with today’s tools, and can help answer many questions. What type of fertilizer do I apply? When do I apply it? What seed rate is right for this specific soil type? What happens with row spacings in my field? What irrigation rates respond best across field variations?

In low commodity price times, decisions can always feel pressured. With precision tools, decisions can be made easier, but be sure to give those tools every opportunity to succeed by setting them up for success. A sports car wouldn’t work well in a mud bog, where a more suitable vehicle would do, but a sports car works very well on a smooth, paved road. This analogy is like many of the struggles I have seen with tools not performing due to outside influences that didn’t help set the precision ag tools up for success.

Whatever precision agriculture technologies or tools you are using in 2018, make sure they are right for your farm and the support behind them is right for you. There are many options out there for whatever precision equipment you are using or are interested in. Efficiency is key to these times, and ensuring applications, inputs, and decisions are made without wasting or losing these opportunities will lead to capturing success in 2018. I for one am looking forward to this season, and I hope you are as well. Happy New Year!

Leave a Reply

Tools & Smart Equipment Stories
Robotics/Labor SaversStine Seed Plunks Down $5 Million on Smart Ag’s Driverless Tractor Kit
June 14, 2018
Stine Seed Farm has invested $5 million in Smart Ag Inc., an Iowa technology firm that has developed a full Read More
Service ProvidersDeere Launches Bale Mobile App with Hay and Forage Yield Tracking
May 30, 2018
John Deere introduces its Bale Mobile app to help hay and forage producers get detailed information, improve efficiency, identify bale Read More
AGCO White planter 9800VE
Service ProvidersPrecision Planting Announces Ready Row Unit Planter Customization Offer
May 30, 2018
Precision Planting is reportedly making it easy and affordable for farmers to upgrade and customize their planters for their farms Read More
Farmers Edge Truck
AmericasFarmers Edge, Raven Announce Collaboration Agreement
May 9, 2018
Raven Industries and Farmers Edge announced today a marketing and collaboration agreement. The two companies are working together to develop Read More
Trending Articles
EventsHighlights from the 14th International Conference on Precision Agriculture
July 9, 2018
The 14th International Conference on Precision Agriculture (ICPA) presented by the International Society of Precision Agriculture (ISPA) was held in Montreal, Read More
Topcon X30 Console in cab
EventsAssociation Seeks Definitive Definition of “Precision Agriculture” — What’s Your Vote?
July 2, 2018
More than two-dozen definitions of precision agriculture have been identified through the years — but which is the best and Read More
AmericasRaven Name to Grace New South Dakota State University Facility
June 27, 2018
According to a press release issued by the company, Raven Industries was recognized today in the naming of South Dakota Read More
DronesNew York Apple Orchard Claims World First in Pollination by Drone
June 18, 2018
Beak & Skiff Apple Orchard in LaFayette, NY, is the first orchard in the world to use drones to pollinate Read More
Sensors/IoTJohn Deere, Pessl Instruments Team Up to Create Opportunities
June 18, 2018
John Deere is best known for its line of tractors, combines, sprayers, and implements. However, in an effort to help Read More
Decision Support SoftwareSST’s Matt Waits: Innovative Data Solutions Key to Transforming Global Agriculture
May 31, 2018
Proagrica, part of RELX Group, earlier this year acquired U.S.-based precision agriculture solutions company, SST Software, in a move set Read More
Latest News
Industry NewsFarmobile Acquires Prime Meridian, Taps Cubbage as New …
July 13, 2018
Farmobile today announced an agreement to acquire the assets of Prime Meridian, a precision agriculture data management company based in Read More
DronesPrecision Agriculture Takes Flight at North Carolina St…
July 13, 2018
Take a walk into the Suggs Laboratory for Precision Agriculture and Machine Systems and it’s hard not to be impressed, Read More
DronesAutomated Weeders Have Arrived in Vegetable Fields
July 12, 2018
The vegetable production areas of the Central Coast of California have lifted vegetable cultivation to a high art, writes Richard Read More
AgJunction, InfoAg 2014, Autosteer, GPS
Industry NewsAgJunction Settles with Raven in Patent Infringement Su…
July 12, 2018
AgJunction Inc., a leader in advanced guidance and autosteering, has settled a patent infringement lawsuit it filed against Raven Industries, Read More
Business ManagementTaking Measure of the Precision Agriculture Program: 6 …
July 12, 2018
In the overall agriculture market, the rhetoric surrounding emerging technology over the past half-decade has been nothing short of breathless. Read More
Industry NewsNew Raven Slingshot Advancements Will Help Save Time, R…
July 11, 2018
Raven Industries, Inc. has announced several new services available on the Slingshot and Viper 4 platforms: Job Generator and Job Read More
Industry NewsAgIntegrated Acquires Exclusive Licence to Satshot’s Im…
July 11, 2018
AgIntegrated, Inc. (AGI), a leader in precision ag data integration and software development, and Satshot, a leader and pioneer in Read More
Australian Harvest
Australia/New ZealandAustralian Agritech Plants Blockchain for Efficiency
July 11, 2018
“Agritech” at one time would have meant new equipment such as tractors and combine harvesters, but today it refers to Read More
AsiaIndia: Using Artificial Intelligence for the Good of Fa…
July 11, 2018
After graduating from IIT-Madras, the first thing that Vivek Rajkumar did was to buy four acres near Thiruvananthapuram and start Read More
Industry NewsForbes List of Innovative Ag-Tech Companies Includes Gr…
July 9, 2018
Forbes magazine recently posted a list of the 25 most innovative ag-tech startups in 2018, which includes a few companies Read More
AmericasNutrien Ag Solutions Brand, New Digital Platform Launch…
July 9, 2018
Nutrien (formerly Crop Production Services) has officially rebranded its retail business to Nutrien Ag Solutions, aligning the company’s retail operations Read More
EventsHighlights from the 14th International Conference on Pr…
July 9, 2018
The 14th International Conference on Precision Agriculture (ICPA) presented by the International Society of Precision Agriculture (ISPA) was held in Montreal, Read More
Industry NewsTerrAvion Integrates Aerial Imagery with John Deere Ope…
July 6, 2018
TerrAvion, Inc., a large volume provider of aerial imagery to agriculture, has announced an integration to allow TerrAvion’s aerial imagery Read More
Data ManagementAgriculture’s Next Breakthrough: New Technologies…
July 3, 2018
We live in an exciting time in agriculture. Not only is technology advancing rapidly, but the understanding and comprehension of Read More
Precision IrrigationNotes from the Field: A Look at Irrigation Management P…
July 2, 2018
One of the things I love most about my work is making periodic treks into the field – more often Read More
Topcon X30 Console in cab
EventsAssociation Seeks Definitive Definition of “Preci…
July 2, 2018
More than two-dozen definitions of precision agriculture have been identified through the years — but which is the best and Read More
Industry NewsAg Equipment Manufacturers: 3 Trends to Shape Farming G…
July 2, 2018
Bottom line instead of brand loyalty. Tractors and harvesters will look more like computers. Data will drive productivity. These are Read More
Ag Retailer and Growers with tablet WinField United
Service ProvidersPrecision Ag Technology: Act Like You’ve Been There Bef…
July 2, 2018
One of my dad’s favorite, albeit borrowed, sayings was, “Act like you’ve been there before.” He was mostly referring to Read More