Don’t Play Catch Up With Your Precision Technology

The Technology Evolution

Farmers are very proud people and want their rows to be the straightest in the neighborhood.  In the late ‘90’s equipment dealers had salesmen making the rounds demonstrating a new product called autosteer.  A lot of times these salesmen were met with the response of “I can drive straighter then any computer.”  Not to discount their ability, the salesman would ask if they could simply install the universal system and let the farmer run it for a day.  More often than not, once the farmer got the hang of it, he would opt to buy the system.  The farmer found out that, while he could drive pretty darn straight, the “computer” could drive just a little bit straighter. This allowed the farmer to concentrate on other tasks, like how the planter was operating. Autosteer was the initial way of making a farmer’s life easier.  Instead of sawing on a steering wheel all day long, he could let the machine do the work and he could take care of the more important tasks.  This was the first advent of multi tasking in agriculture.

It’s All About The Data

Precision technology in agriculture has been one of the fastest growing areas in the last 10 years.  The initial platform of autosteer is now as common as an AM/FM radio on ag equipment.  Precision ag technology has evolved all the way to driverless tractors.  With each evolution in technology the farmer’s life is made easier and their ability to make quicker decisions is amplified.  Every piece of ag equipment is gathering data about machine performance, seeding data, spraying rates, and harvesting yields to name a few.  All of this data allows a farmer to make an informed decision about their operation.  As with most technology, precision ag is constantly changing and improving.  As one system is released, its replacement is most likely already in development.  With the release of new systems come new features that the predecessor didn’t have. Not all new features are simply included in the new system; some are add-ons that cost money.

Plan For Upgrades

Let’s take another look at our farmer who bought the autosteer when it first came out.  While at the time autosteer fulfilled every need they had, however time and technology changes.  If our farmer simply continued to use his autosteer system and didn’t invest in upgrading their precision technology over the years, they may be in for a shock when they finally do upgrade. If a farmer plans their precision technology purchases similar to their equipment purchases, and has a plan for upgrading, they can take incremental steps to stay current with technology and spread the cost out over several years.

Stay Up To Date

Keeping current on technology also helps a grower manage their risk exposure in another critical way; obsolete equipment.  As new precision technology is introduced the oldest becomes unsupported by the manufacturer after a given amount of time.  This could lead a farmer to the exposure of increased cost of replacement, should there be an electronic equipment failure with their technology.  If the farmer was to keep as close to current on their precision technology, they greatly would reduce their risk of losing their significant investment in precision technology, should the unthinkable happen.

In conclusion, while the initial investment in precision technology can be expensive.  Not keeping current can lead to a larger investment to catch up.  If a investment can be spread out over time and incremental upgrades are taken, a farmer’s risk can be lowered and they can become more efficient with the resources available.