Drones, robots, and big data. Oh my! New technologies have wowed us for generations, but going back to the mid-1990s, computer technology and the Internet really took off and has been amazing us ever since.
Technological innovation is advancing at such a pace these days, things we would not believe possible a decade ago now come to our attention with hardly a raised eyebrow. You can talk to your smartphone and it answers back. Meh.
By and large, the rapid advance of technology has improved our lives. Some argue we have become too dependent on technology, but I’d say that ship sailed the first time we slipped a cell phone into our hip pocket. The technological revolution also has reached its way into agriculture and those advances will be coming at your farm more and more in the future.
What we consider more traditional agricultural companies are betting on technology and increasingly Silicon Valley is taking note of the farm sector. Venture capitalists are recognizing the relative stability of agriculture and the basic fact we all have to eat. That means investment in high-tech farming.
At the center of this revolution will be the broad term of “precision agriculture.” The concept is capturing and using data to make more efficient farming decisions that enhance production. We are seeing more and more growers adopting the technology through things like GPS guidance and autosteer.
Even the way Florida Grower® magazine’s September issue cover story subject, Chuck Allison, manages his irrigation and fertigation, I would count as precision agriculture.
The next frontier in this technological revolution will be finding applications for unmanned aerial systems (UAS, or drones). The Federal Aviation Administration has issued regulations, which will make their use in agriculture legally viable. Companies providing crop surveying with UAS are proliferating. In fact, the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International predicts 80% of commercial UAS use will be for agriculture by 2035.
All of these emerging systems will add more layers of data about the production histories of fields and how efficiently they are managed. What will it mean to you and how can you use this information to farm smarter?
Meister Media Worldwide has a long history in precision agriculture. I like to say we were precision ag before precision ag was cool. Our company hosts PrecisionAg.com and has witnessed the groundswell of interest in the technology over the years.
In October, our company will be hosting the Precision Ag Vision Conference. If you are interested in a high-level look at how precision agriculture will shape the future of your farm or farming in general, this is an event for you.
The Conference will feature executives from various agricultural, finance, and technology companies and leading academics. Looking at the speaker lineup on the Conference website, it is fair to say there has never been a precision agriculture event like this where the business applications of this technology are so explored.
A technological revolution is upon us in agriculture, and those who embrace it will likely begin to find answers to age-old challenges. Think robotics to ease labor challenges; precision water management to address availability and quality issues; and, much much more.