The Music Of Precision Agriculture

More than 30 years ago, while cleaning out my grandparents’ attic, I came across a number of crystal radios in various stages of assembly. It appeared that my grandfather was intrigued with the new radio technology of the 1920s and had made several attempts at constructing a workable crystal set. What impressed me was all this effort to “hear the music.” Given the limited technology choices of his day, my grandfather committed time and money to a new technology that could receive music from some faraway place.

Very likely, the music heard over these pioneering units was barely audible and of poor quality, but it represented a successful effort nonetheless. In a matter of a decade after his initial trials and tribulations with this new radio technology, my grandfather could probably walk in a store and buy a unit that with the turn of a knob could provide reception as good as or better than anything he built.

The insight I got from seeing my grandfather’s extensive involvement with these early radios was his labor of love for new technologies. His working on that new frontier of radio technology and hearing the results of his labors were, for him, magical. Yes, the end goal of listening to music in the comfort of his home for the single price of a unit and a bit of electricity was undoubtedly a driving force, but being one of the first to do so was irresistible.

This fascination with new technologies was played out again some 60 years after radios with the introduction of personal computers. The same desire to “hear the music” — although the melody was now digital output — drove a later generation of technical enthusiasts to work with computer kits. And like the early crystal radios, the pioneers of the 1980s assembled the various components of a personal computer in order to see the magic of electronic text and calculations in their homes.

There was, however, a significant difference in the qualifications of individuals working on a radio vs. a personal computer. Compared to early radios, personal computers were, in a word, complicated. The knowledge needed to build a personal computer was significantly greater than that needed to build a radio. The trial and error approach used with early crystal radios was applicable to early personal computers only if individuals had a clear understanding of how the pieces fit together. Consequently, the people willing to put in the time and effort to make computer technology work were likely smaller in number compared to those fascinated with radios. And, inversely, the larger population of people who wanted to use but not build these early personal computers also wanted units that could be started with the equivalent of “turning a knob.” Thus, the desire for “user-friendly” systems became the mantra of the industry back then and today.

Fine-Tuning The Marketplace

The same magical force that drove individuals to become pioneers with radio and personal computers developed with precision agriculture. The same gradient between radio and personal computers is applicable between personal computers and precision agriculture technologies. Enthusiasts today are just as enamored with new technologies as their counterparts in the past, but they must have a greater working knowledge of these technologies to be successful in precision agriculture compared to personal computers or radios. In fact, radios and computers are part of today’s precision agriculture technologies.

Technologists in precision agriculture are more “integrators” than builders. The end goal of precision agriculture is not some stand-alone unit like a radio or personal computer, but rather an “integration” of technologies: an integration that can accommodate new innovations, such as those showcased in this issue, seamlessly. An integration that awards those individuals and companies that can bring technologies together in a user-friendly and cost-effective manner to support production decision-making and improved field practices.

The integration of precision agriculture technologies must not only address the needs of growers today, but also anticipate the needs of tomorrow. Advances in seed genomics, robotics, logistics tracking, traceability, in-field sensors, decision-support software, and other mechanical and informational technologies will take today’s integration to a new level. These advances, like the technologies of today, will demand individuals with the knowledge, skill, and experience to make precision agriculture a reality in the future.

In the end, it is always about the ability to “hear the music.” The “technology tune-up” theme of this issue is the melody of today’s precision agriculture. With the proper integration of new technologies, this melody can be the music of a profitable season for both the grower and the supporting cast of industry.

Leave a Reply

Specialty Crops Stories
group-photo
DronesPrecision Agriculture Takes Flight at North Carolina State
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
Skeketee-IC-Weeder
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
Farmer-Tablet
Data ManagementAgriculture’s Next Breakthrough: New Technologies Are Driving Efficiency, Data Insights
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
Nebraska-Storm
Precision IrrigationNotes from the Field: A Look at Irrigation Management Practices in Nebraska
July 2, 2018
One of the things I love most about my work is making periodic treks into the field – more often Read More
Trending Articles
ISPA-Yoshua-Bengio
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
dropcopter
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
JDandPessl
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
Matt-Waits-featured
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
Data ManagementInfoAg News: Farmobile Launches DataEngine, Streamlines…
July 17, 2018
Busy times these days out in Overland Park Leawood, KS, for ag data startup Farmobile, as they continue to – Read More
Agrible
Grower Services & SolutionsNutrien Drops $63 Million to Acquire Agrible
July 16, 2018
Nutrien announced today that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Agrible for total consideration of $63 million, Read More
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
group-photo
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
Skeketee-IC-Weeder
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
Retailer-Grower-tablet
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
raven-slingshot-job-generator-job-sync-1
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
Onsite-logo
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
Tomato-crop-India
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
BrightFarms
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
ISPA-Yoshua-Bengio
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
TerrAvion
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
Farmer-Tablet
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
Nebraska-Storm
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