The technology revolution in agriculture

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Agriculture, for the most part, has a perception problem. The general (non-ag) public often has romantic views of producers riding on tractors and tending their crops, much the same way they have for generations. In their view, agriculture hasn’t changed much.

We all know that is definitely not the case. Agriculture has taken the bull by the horns when it comes to modern technology, adapting it at a very fast pace. Think about products like GPS-guided tractors; ten years ago those products were in their infancy, with only a few producers dabbling in this revolutionary technology. I can recall interviewing producers with this “new” autosteer technology. Today, it’s an option you can add.

When you think about it, the technology revolution in agriculture has been nothing short of amazing, and it’s catching the eye of the general public. How can you tell? When you start reading about agriculture in a non-ag business publication, it’s a safe bet that 1) the technology is here to stay and 2) we’re getting the attention of the non-ag sector.

A recent article in Inc. magazine provided some interesting insight. Most of the information in the article is probably not news to you, but what I found very interesting is that agriculture – specifically agricultural technology – is grabbing the attention of the business world.

Some of the comments were also quite interesting. For instance, “one startup in the [agricultural technology] sector, FarmLogs, builds software that aggregates crop-field data and analyzes it to increase efficiency and yield. Because it’s industry standard for farm machinery to come with built-in sensors that track everything from precipitation to soil composition, companies like FarmLogs don’t have to manufacture any complementary hardware. As with an increasing number of industries, it’s all about the data.”

It’s a great read. A quote from Rajiv Khosla, professor of precision agriculture at Colorado State University, really stuck out to me. He said, in regards to ag technology: “People outside of agriculture don’t really understand how accomplished this whole industry is. One example is auto-guidance or autopilot systems. The first auto-guidance systems came out in 2004, and the most recent survey shows that 30 percent of farmers across 33 major agricultural states in the U.S. are using some form of auto-guidance. It’s allowing them to farm in low-visible light, to plant straight, and to not overlap chemicals. It’s increasing production, and you’re not even touching the steering wheel.”

It definitely is an exciting time to be in agriculture.


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