Agtech: 10 Things I Hate About You!

Agtech: 10 Things I Hate About You!

Before you get bent out of shape from the title, remember if you’ve read my articles before you know I like to reference pop culture in them. This one refers to the cult classic rom-com movie from 1999. I really like the title because it brings up a some of the things I’ve been hearing lately from colleagues and others in the agriculture industry with a dash of the plot of that movie. Much frustration, but also understanding, acceptance, and even love!

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Much like the movie, there are players in this industry that act like some of the characters. I’ll let you decide who is who though: You have the the bad boy who is actually good; the difficult, uptight girl who just wants to be understood; the young boy who wants the dream girl; the young dream girl who can get all the boys; the nerdy friend; the drama queen goth chick; the overbearing dad that doesn’t want his daughters to date; and of course, the egotistical meathead who’s rich and usually gets punched in the end. Sounds pretty much like every rom-com, and like some of us in the agtech industry, as well.

The kicker to the title of that movie is that all these people generally have a love-hate relationship with each other, but all need to deal with each other to get what they want. Some even eventually fall in love with one another (think agtech buyouts and mergers) or just can’t get along (lawsuits). Sounds similar to a few agtech companies lately, to say the least.

All in all, what comes to mind when thinking of this love-hate relationship between others in the entirety of the agtech industry is frustration, confusion, settling, pain, wasted time, lies, trouble, acceptance, pride, cockiness, and well…money. Sounds like the feelings right out of the teenage years, although that is pretty much where agtech as an industry is right now.

With all that being said, I decided to make a list of Top 10 things I (and others) hate about the agtech industry. I did this in the Dave Letterman style of countdown to “spice” it up some, and in the perspective of a grower and/or a trusted advisor. Hold onto your free hats and yardsticks.

10. I thought you said I could fix all my problems with your imagery. I know that area in the field sucks but what does it all mean!!?? I’m feeling “No Definitive Visual Interest.” I guess my field and mental health are declining at the same time (small single tear). Do you have counseling services instead?

9. You can’t have my data because I lost it in one of my hundreds of USB drives. It could be in that one that looks like a gun though, feel free to check it out. I think you’ll see the data if you point it at your foot and pull that trigger-like thing.

8. When you said calibrate my data, you didn’t even ask if I knew what the heck I was doing? Can I still send you 100 files from the last four years with two different types of combines? Oh, also my neighbor helped. I’ll take that free cap now.

7. “Well, we just raised $10 million and said AI, will you pay us $5 per acre?” Ok, well I raised one finger and said GTFO, will you walk over the edge of that cliff over there?

6. So, my super high-res imagery doesn’t work on my monitor and I ran out of storage since I have like 10,000 pictures. Also, after losing the third drone, the fourth one is free, right? I like toys.

5. SSURGO? Sounds more like “Sure, go ahead and waste my money on that awful soil/VRA map!” Wait, I get free VRA maps and a year subscription? I’ll take it! ALL HAIL SSURGO!

4. If you think machine learning is cool, try losing thousands of dollars by switching your agronomy decision to someone like GEICO. They even follow the great and powerful SSURGO.

3. Oh cool, another sensor to put on my ground. But wait, look at that, a free plastic rain gauge with calendar. What does yours do better? “Tells you the future…” Awesome, I like DeLoreans and flux capacitors too. Here is $1,500.

2. Well, I wonder if this puck will do better on the ice? Pretty sure my field didn’t start in my shop or maybe it did? Did I plant a backwards Z shape, too? Hmm, maybe the “clouds” will fix it.

1. “It’s unlikely but there is a small chance this data from this machine will work in this other machine you may just need to spend another 10k on this system instead.” So…you’re telling me there’s a chance, I’ll take three!

So with all this being said and the fun in it (at least I hope you can take a joke), I and everyone else do not hate agtech. We just get really frustrated with some of the plots, marketing, promises, hype, and general shenanigans. We all get it, it will get better and you have to start somewhere. Everything is complicated way more than people think in agriculture, especially when you try to play with agronomy and tech together.

It’s a matter of time before the next thing out there will piss many of us off, but at least someone is trying. I hope you all take these 10 things and think of 10 more funny yet true and harsh realities about agtech. Because in the end, if you can’t criticize yourself and others while accepting some basic truths, you can’t really grow into figuring out how to make it better or as close to perfection as possible.

If we keep on talking about all the positives in agtech we’ll forget how we actually got to that point and why someone pushed a little harder in the past or some failed for the greater good. Do everyone a little favor and remember your love/hate feelings for this industry. I know I will.

P.S. I love you AgTech, but #%&#%@#%#%@##&$%!!

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Pedro says:

Hi; I’m launching a AgTech Magazine in Brazil. Can I use this text?

Paul Overby says:

Great, Nathan! 🙂

Noel Magnin says:

You are right, most feel the same but the problem is that all solution providers just use the same data (NDVI and similar) to promise THE best solution. Some add to this Soil surveys. They are wrong, NDVI is useful but does not provide the solution, same for soil surveys of all sorts. What is required is to evaluate WHY the collected data is important and WHICH data should be collected for improvement reasons (yield/quality). Then data integration is required before taking decisions as to how to improve yields and quality.
All these “solution providers” should go back to the drawing board, sit down and relax, think hard and come back with IMPROVED solutions. They simply come to you with something that has shown somehow good results in one place, at some time, but the results were just totally different in some other place. That is a shot in the dark proposition.