Ag Technology Plows Ahead

Kelly MarshallAgribusiness, technology

Dr. Robert Hill

Dr. Robert Hill

Market prices and a generally “down” farm economy have most farmers tucking away the checkbook, expect, it seems, when it comes to new technologies.  In a recent report from Caledonia Solutions, a research and consulting firm in Minneapolis, as many as 1 out of every 4 large farmers are actually planning to increase spending on data and equipment technology.

Agriculture technology really began with the adoption of biotech seed, followed by the widespread use of GPS steering.  “The first wave was mainly driven by yield advantages, and the second wave mainly by cost savings,” says Dr. Robert Hill, principal of Caledonia Solutions. “In this third wave, it looks like the farm operators are getting a strong dose of both benefits.”

“We are in the early stages of the third wave, which is the explosion of digital farming and big data utilization in the farming industry in the U.S.”, continues Hill. “The benefits are powerful enough to keep this adoption moving forward at a strong clip, even in the currently depressed state of the farm economy. We are seeing disruptive technologies coming to the growers. An example is Farmers Business Network. They are challenging the traditional information networks and farm input supply channels in the ag industry. This may force a structural shift in the industry.”

The study of large farm operators from Caledonia Solutions details current adoption rates and future growth projections for 34 separate equipment and data technologies.  According to the study, the total number of new equipment and data technologies deployed by a grower is going to more than double over a 6-year period.

Says Hill, “Farmers aren’t waiting to make moves for improving their operations.”