A trend carries the stigma of something that comes in and out of the mainstream. Who remembers Pogs, Hootie and the Blowfish, or Jnco Jeans (a trend that I wish I could forget). A trend is replaced by the “Next Big Thing” - this is true in fashion, technology, business, or any other industry. I was tasked with blogging about technology trends in agriculture. Instead, I am going to discuss, from personal experience, the direction I see agriculture technology products moving toward, if they have not already. The items listed below are things that will be, or are currently being, utilized by growers and will continue to evolve; rather than trends, they are staples of ag technology and will aid growers in producing a better product.
From a consumer technology standpoint, “Cloud” is and has been a big buzzword. Save your photos to the cloud, your music to the cloud, your documents to the clouds, etc. The Cloud simply means using servers hosted on the internet, rather than on a local computer, to store data. In the agriculture industry, growers have been using “The Cloud” for years. AgSense® is a great example of this; growers have been controlling irrigation devices remotely by using a cloud-based application. Users are able to access their accounts from any internet-connected device and gain access to their irrigation operation. This then allows them to get status updates and also send commands to irrigate their crops. This is not a trend, but rather the standard for remote irrigation monitoring and controlling of a farm operation, and it will only continue to get better.
Stemming from cloud-based applications are mobile application offerings. Again, center pivot irrigation companies have been providing growers with mobile offerings for quite some time. Mobile devices and mobile applications have allowed growers to move away from their computer screens and to remotely control their entire operation from the smartphone in their pocket. I personally have noticed that many Valley® BaseStation3™ users are moving to strictly using the BaseStation3 mobile application to monitor and control their center pivots, once they have configured their farm operation. Irrigation monitoring and controlling on the go gives growers the ability to be more efficient. They can skip the trip to the pivot point; skip the trip back to the desktop computer and improve their quality of life by having access to information from anywhere.
No two growers are exactly alike. Depending on crop type, region, equipment, etc., one user’s needs are different from his neighbor. Because every user is different, the data or data analysis that each individual grower needs vary, as well. This leads to another product need - customized reporting. Applications such as AgSense and BaseStation3 offer pre-canned reports out of the box that cover reporting all growers can use. With BaseStation3, growers can work directly with Valley to create reports that are tailored to their specific needs. Customized or special reporting is a new feature that continues to develop as growers expand the technology used within their operation and demand tools or reports that allow them to display data based on very specific needs.
Data, this is a big one. Growers are producing massive amounts of data associated with their farm operations, the question is, are they storing that information and utilizing it for anything? Some are doing just that. Some growers are allowing companies to access their data, then those companies use the data to produce and deliver products to those growers based on that data. For example, growers can receive variable rate irrigation (VRI) prescriptions, irrigation efficiency recommendations and other useful tools from this data. Users are allowing companies through services like Valley Irrigation Exchange to access their farm data. Valley allows third-party companies to access data that is produced by growers using the BaseStation3 software (with permission from the grower).
The technology products described above are not a trend, but the direction that ag technology is already moving toward and has been for quite a while. These products and ideas will continue to evolve and become better and better. The agriculture industry is utilizing available technologies to continually produce more and more yields as resources become more and more scarce, and this is a “trend” that must continue.
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